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12 inspirational passages from books past and present


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Books do more than just inform and entertain us. They also help us to see through the good times and bad times, and inspire us in ways that can change our thoughts and our lives for the better.

Here are 12 uplifting theme-based passages from books past and present.

Change
What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.
— Maya Angelou in Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, 1993

Love
"I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."
— John Green in The Fault in Our Stars, 2012

Friendship
"‘Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you."

"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing."
— E.B. White in Charlotte’s Web, 1952

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
— Henri Nouwen in Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, 1974

Happiness
(My wishes are) as moderate as those of the rest of the world, I believe. I wish as well as everybody else to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else it must be in my own way. Greatness will not make me so.
— Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility, 1811

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
— Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, 2010

Time
Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.
— Mitch Albom in The Time Keeper, 2012

Conditioning
When we are caught up in likes and dislikes, in strong opinions and rigid habits, we cannot work at our best, and we cannot know real security either. We live at the mercy of external circumstances: if things go our way, we get elated; if things do not go our way, we get depressed. It is only the mature person—the man or woman who is not conditioned by compulsive likes and dislikes, habits and opinions—who is really free in life. Such people are truly spontaneous. They can see issues clearly rather than through the distorting medium of strong opinions, and they can respond to people as they are and not as they imagine them to be.”
— Eknath Easwaran, The Mantram Handbook, 1977

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Faith
The rainy season of the autumnal equinox was now come, and I kept the 30th of September in the same solemn manner as before, being the anniversary of my landing on the island, having now been there two years, and no more prospect of being delivered than the first day I came there, I spent the whole day in humble and thankful acknowledgments of the many wonderful mercies which my solitary condition was attended with, and without which it might have been infinitely more miserable. I gave humble and hearty thanks that God had been pleased to discover to me that it was possible I might be more happy in this solitary condition than I should have been in the liberty of society, and in all the pleasures of the world; that He could fully make up to me the deficiencies of my solitary state, and the want of human society, by His presence and the communications of His grace to my soul; supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon His providence here, and hope for His eternal presence hereafter.
— Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe, 1719

Letting go
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
— Steve Maraboli in Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience, 2013

Compassion
Don’t invalidate or belittle the thoughts and feelings of others just because your reality looks different. Remember, it’s easy to yell instructions from the sideline, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you are on the battlefield. Judgment and advice are cheap, but compassion is priceless.
— K.J. Redelinghuys in Unfiltered: Grappling with Mental Illness, 2020

Opposites
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
— Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, 1859

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