When Mark Twain’s wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens, rejected his first proposal of marriage, it’s said that he said:
I do believe that young filly has broken my heart. That only leaves me with one option, for her to mend it.
Can you sense the subtle humour there?
Or is it a thinly disguised resolution?
Since he claimed to have fallen in love at first sight, it’s probably the latter.
Born as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain was a prolific writer widely regarded as “the father of American literature”.
Amongst 28 books he wrote are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
He was also a humorist, journalist, riverboat pilot, entrepreneur and lecturer.
Here are 13 Mark Twain’s quotes that have stood the test of time and will continue to do so.
1. Get Started
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
You’ve got to wonder since when “getting started” has become “the secret”.
It seems too obvious to spell it out: to go somewhere in life, we’ve got to start.
The mere fact he has to say it implies many people dream about getting ahead in life but never start.
If you’re dreaming about something or anything, now you know what to do.
The secret is out: get started.
2. Be Ignorant and Confident
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
It’s impossible to learn if we think we know it all.
To learn something, we need to empty everything we think we know and be humble to admit what we don’t know.
A humble attitude allows us to stay open-minded. It opens up opportunities for fresh insights and new ideas.
Along with it, maintain self-confidence in our abilities to learn and adapt, and continue to learn.
Success is a matter of time.
3. Don’t Wish for Fear to Go Away
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Whether we’re preparing for an interview for a new job, our first presentation at work, moving to a foreign country or starting a new business, we shouldn’t wish for fear to go away.
Instead, wish for our courage to be stronger, to resist fear.
It means we keep fear in the corner of our mind until what has to be done, done.
4. The World Owes You Nothing
Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
Don’t you love this quote?
It’s so true.
The world was here before us. It’ll still be here after we’re gone.
We can either waste our entire life lamenting our bad luck and doing nothing or make the most of what we have while we are here.
Either way, the world doesn’t care.
What did Mark Twain Say About Worrying?
5. Don’t Worry
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
A study has shown that 85% of what participants in the study worried never happened.
And out of 15%, 79% of them found they could deal with it better than expected or they learned a lesson from it.
So 97% of worries were because of a figment of imagination!
Unnecessary worries raise our stress level, and stress is the silent killer.
The past is gone. The future isn’t here. No point to worry over either of them.
6. Approve Yourself
A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
When we can’t approve of ourselves, we go through life with a constant battle with ourselves.
The discordance between living by our values and following others’ becomes a root of unhappiness.
Be true to yourself and live your life.
7. Forget Perfection. Aim for Improvement
Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.
We don’t start because perfection convinces us we aren’t ready.
We don’t finish what we’ve started because perfection convinces us our work isn’t good enough and needs more tweaking.
Don’t let the illusion of perfection stop you from initiating whatever you dream of doing.
Just do it and finish what you’ve started.
Do it again, and again.
It’s the only way we get better at anything.
8. Every Day is the Most Beautiful Day
Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful of your life.
Note the wonderful active verb “Give”.
We have such power that we can actually “Give”.
“Give” is a choice we can exercise daily.
9. What Do You Want?
I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.
Living in the information age, finding “how” is easy. It’s literally at our fingertips.
Google has virtually all answers to every query.
The real question?
What do you want?
10. Now is the Time
Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
Your perfect time was yesterday. The next best time is today.
11. Look at the Stars
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
We know stories after stories about people who just refuse to give up despite life’s impossible hardships.
We appreciate such incredible human spirit in every walk of life.
It’s the same reason we feel a warm glow at the satisfying ending of Andy and Red’s story at The Shawshank Redemption.
The reason we crown Nelson Mandela, who survived 27 years’ imprisonment, as a beacon of hope.
As Stephen Hawking said:
Remember to look up at the stars.
12. Surround Yourself with The Great
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
We all have our close-knit of community.
If someone in that group makes you feel great about yourself or inspires you to become positive and encouraging like her, you become that person too.
Possibly you already are.
What did Mark Twain Say About Death?
13. Do Not Fear Death
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Mortality is the ultimate human suffering.
We will die, including everyone we know.
Does it make you live in anxiety and worries?
Since Mark Twain felt to express his opinion on it, there might be some people who live in fear of death.
It’s probably best to heed his wise words, though.
What will be, will be.
Why sacrifice today’s joy with worries when the eventuality will occur, regardless.
Among many quotes by Mark Twain, the 13 quotes above resonate with me most today.
It’s hard to pick my favourite because each carries a deep meaning that makes me ponder over the words.
No doubt people in his time would have appreciated the wisdom and insights.
Just the same way the following generations did, as will all future generations.
These Mark Twain’s quotes have indeed stood the test of time and will continue to do so.
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