8 Great Thinkers Whose Words Have Changed My Life

Inspiration appears in many forms, but for me it most often graces me from the pages of books. I am a seeker. Maybe you are too. I crave the “truth” about the nature of life and our human existence, whatever that truth may be.

This truth is constantly evolving and expanding as I read more, learn more, and open my mind and heart to all of the amazing and transformational ideas and insights that the world's great thinkers offer to us through their writing.

There are some thinkers and authors whose words have had a profound impact on me, shifting the way I view the world and live my life. I'd like to share some of their words with you.

Deepak Chopra – Doctor, public speaker, best-selling author on spirituality, mind-body medicine, and Ayurveda

If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.

Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.

Each of us is here to discover our true Self. . . that essentially we are spiritual beings who have taken manifestation in physical form. . . that we're not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences. . . that we're spiritual beings that have occasional human experiences.

Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.

You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.

Eckhart Tolle – best-selling writer, public speaker, and spiritual teacher

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.

The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor's edge of NOW — to be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you.

Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem.
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.

A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly.

Kahlil Gibran – artist, poet, and writer

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

Wayne Dyer – counselor, best-selling author, speaker

Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.

You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being — not because anybody says so, not because you're successful, not because you make a lot of money — but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.

There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there's only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.

Thich Nhat Hahn – Buddhist monk, author, poet, teacher, and peace advocate

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.

Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.

Jack Kornfield – Buddhist teacher, clinical psychologist, best-selling author

This life is a test-it is only a test.
It it had been an actual life, you would have received further
instructions on where to go and what to do.
Remember, this life is only a test.

There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, have betrayed or abandoned them, caused them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger, and confusion.

As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. Whatever happens does not really matter.

Steve Chandler – coach, speaker, author, and teacher

The best way to change your belief system is to change your belief about you. What you actually do is more important that what you say you'll do.

Therefore, from now on, I want to choose ONE THING from the list of things that need to be done, and then do that one thing as if that were the only thing. If it’s a phone call, then I need to slow down and relax and let myself be in a good, focused mood so that the phone call will be a complete experience, and the recipient and I can be upbeat afterward.

Optimism is a tool for opening your thought and energy to new possibilities for action. It is NOT a result of outside circumstances and feeling empathy for others.  Optimism is a tool for thinking that can be used any time. It is not a feeling. Most people think optimism is a feeling that comes and goes, and that's why they never know how to use it. Optimism is an effective tool like a shovel is if you are going to dig a pool in your yard. You never ask, “How do I feel like a shovel?” You use one or you don't.

Love operates in the universe in a very mathematical way.  Whatever gets put in to one side of the equation shows up on the other.  Maybe not right away and maybe not in the same place you put it, but love always comes back.  People who have great relationships in life have a relationship to the idea of love that's very pro-active.  They experience love as something they can create.  Something that they can build into their lives to whatever degree they wish.

Eric Butterworth – Unity minister, best-selling author, lecturer

Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.

Real life isn’t made up of great success and great failure, but of an infinite number of levels of living in between. And true greatness depends more on inner overcomings than on outer achievements.

Life for the whole person is a giving process. We are not talking specifically about church giving, giving to charity, etc. There are many channels through which your giving may be funneled. We are talking about attitudes toward life, the basic awareness that life is a matter of developing or unfolding from within. It is knowing that life is not something to get but something to express

Prosperity books use as examples tycoons such as Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie to illustrate how you too can become a millionaire. The fact is, these people did not set out to make money at all. In each case there was the sudden or progressive unfoldment of an idea, which in turn was translated into automobile plants and steel mills. The real substance that made it all possible was ideas. Ideas are the flowing forth into mind of the wealth of the Universe.

Please share in the comments any of the great thinkers who have transformed your world view and positively impacted your life.

If you would like recommendations for some of my favorite books and authors, please check out this page for a complete list.

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  1. Wow, Barrie what a collection of inspiration. And I’m so glad you linked to your recommended goodies page. It’s amazing. Most of those you mentioned in this post have impacted my life. And definitely Julia Cameron (who you mention in your goodies). I have almost all of her books and they are lovely places to dip into whenever I need some words of wisdom. I can hear her voice in the pages. I can also hear yours here. Simply lovely post. Thank you for sharing all this inspiration.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Do the Math- Count Your Blessings =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Dear Katie,
      I wouldn’t be surprised if you have read every book on that list! From one seeker to another, thank you for your gracious comments. 🙂

  2. Hi Barrie,

    This is a lovely post since I too love to read and have found great inspiration from books. I agree with you that the truth is constantly evolving and expanding as we read and learn a little more about the world around us.

    I enjoy reading Kahlil Gibran’s works, especially the Prophet. I have also read Eckhart Tolle.

    As for thinkings and writers who have changed my life, here they are.

    [John C Maxwell: Author, Professional Speaker, Pastor]

    “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

    I like John because of the usefulness of the many practical advice he shares.

    [Viktor Frankl: Austrian psychotherapist and holocaust survivor]

    “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

    Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning opened my eyes to the world and helped me to understand purpose in life.

    [The Book of Changes or the I-Ching]

    “In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men through them.”

    There isn’t a fixed author for the I-Ching since it is the accumulation of ancient Chinese wisdom through the ages. This is definitely my favourite book of wisdom and I refer to it daily.

    Thanks for sharing this article!

    Irving aka the Vizier
    .-= The Vizier´s last blog ..The Vizier’s Reflections- 06-12-10 to 12-12-10 =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Irving,
      Wow, you are a prolific reader! Thank you for sharing your favorite great thinkers. I also love Man’s Search for Meaning. That is a life-altering book. I need to re-visit the I-Ching.

  3. Matt Coffman says:

    Thank you for putting all these beautiful quotes in one place!

    I’m bookmarking this so I can return again and again whenever I need a concentrated jolt of clarity. What a lucky time to be alive, surrounded by so much wisdom!
    .-= Matt Coffman´s last blog ..Agreements- Promises- Commitments- Break These and Suffer Some Serious Consequences =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Matt,
      I’m so glad you liked it. There is so much great wisdom from these amazing thinkers. The difficult part is applying their wisdom to our lives, right?!

  4. Tess The Bold Life says:

    Wow, Barrie. Even though I’ve read the work of these authors I find each sentence inspiring! Steve is new to me and what he writes is beautiful.

    I would add Anne Lamont. She writes what I can’t put into words and it’s as if she were me. Life is so rich and we are so blessed to be the recipients of this wisdom.
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Grilled Chicken Tuesdays- This Is It =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Tess,
      I love Anne Lamont. Her writing is so witty and wonderful. I can read these books over and over again and still get something new from them every time.

  5. Tess The Bold Life says:

    I just clicked over to your goodie page and I did read Steve’s book Fearless: The Courage to Change the Things You Can. I purchased it the last time you mentioned him. Funny thing is I took it to MI last week to read again and never got to it. I think there’s a message here for me;) If I remember correctly he lives in Mesa AZ which is a half hour from me. Small world, eh?
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Grilled Chicken Tuesdays- This Is It =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      If he is that close, you should try to hear him speak and/or make a connection with him. He is so very nice — he encouraged me to start writing. I’m glad you have his book.

  6. Hi. Love your list. Deepak Chopra, Eckart Tolle, Gibran are my favourites too. Thank u for introducing me to the rest of the greats on your list. Am a seeker, so it resonated very deeply when you said u were too. Here’s to seeking and finding and becoming and being.
    God bless. Much peace.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I’m so glad you liked it Uzma. We seekers must share our favorite pearls of wisdom with one another!

  7. Thanks for sharing these thinkers Barrie.

    There are a few new names here for me. I’m looking forward to learning more about these people and their contributions.


  8. Excellent, Barrie! I’ve only recently “discovered” Wayne Dyer, and can attest to his effectiveness as he definitely deserves a place on any short list of inspirational thinkers.

    I will pass on this post as a suggestion for Holiday gifts. What better gift than transformation?
    .-= Paul Strobl´s last blog ..Life Lessons from Finance =-.

  9. Interesting list. I was only familiar with Deepak Chopra, a friend of mine recommended him. I will spend some time looking at these other authors.

    Have you read The Alchemis by Paulo Coehlo ? One of my personal favorites.

  10. I think I learn a little bit more about you each time I read your writing. My favorite quote from above is: “Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal.” This is it -the time is now- it’s the only one we get.

    I am also inspired by others words, whether it is in a book, a song, or a movie. It can be a small dose or a lifetime of teaching.

    The thinker that has influenced my life and work the most is Dr. Murray Bowen. He had the courage to go against the psychiatric leaders of his time, to work on managing oneself instead of treating another. And, by doing so, he showed how we can integrate our emotions with our thoughts, our individuality with our connections. We may be emotional human beings, but we can have the capacity to make big changes with small steps.
    .-= Marci´s last blog ..Are You Tired of Being a Doormat =-.

  11. lovely world says:

    When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.

    my god I cried