50 Fantastic Life Story Quotations!

For an inspirational lift or a grace note in your promotional materials you can’t beat a good quotation. Over the years I’ve  amassed a collection of quotes that relate to life stories and I’m pleased to share them with you here.  I’ve assembled the first fifteen on this page. For the remaining thirty-five be sure to click on the link at the bottom . Enjoy!


Memoir writing, gathering words onto pieces of paper, helps me shape my life to a manageable size.  By discovering plot, arc, theme, and metaphor, I offer my life an organization, a frame, which would be otherwise unseen, unknown.  Memoir creates a narrative, a life story. Writing my life is a gift I give to myself.  To write is to be constantly reborn.  On one page I understand this about myself.  On the next page, I understand that.

from Sue William Silverman’s Fearless Confessions:  A Writer’s Guide to Memoir (U of Georgia, 2009)

It’s not about dinner but the kind of conversations you have with your family and the stories you tell.

Robyn Fivush, Professor of Psychology, Emory University

If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973),  American writer

Anyone who’s fortunate enough to live to be 50 years old should take some time, even if it’s just a couple of weekends, to sit down and write the story of your life, even if it’s only twenty pages, and even if it’s only for your children and grandchildren.

former President Bill Clinton

To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.

Chinese proverb

Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

George Herbert (1593 – 1633), a Welsh poet, orator, and priest

The positive thing about writing is that you connect with yourself in the deepest way, and that’s heaven. You get a chance to know who you are, to know what you think. You begin to have a relationship with your mind.

Natalie Goldberg, writer, Zen practitioner, and teacher

When you speak or write in your own voice you become subject rather than object. You transform your own destiny.

bell hooks, American author, feminist, and social activist

It seems that the ancient Medicine Men understood that listening to another’s story somehow gives us the strength of example to carry on, as well as showing us aspects of ourselves we can’t easily see.  For listening to the stories of others – not to their precautions or personal commandments – is a kind of water that breaks the fever of our isolation.  If we listen closely enough, we are soothed into remembering our common name.

from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

One regret I have: I didn’t get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids.

Robert De Niro, American actor, director, and producer

Ultimately, the richest resource for meaning and healing is one we already posses. It  rests (mostly untapped) in the material of our own lifestory, in the sprawling, many-layered “text” that has been accumulating within us across the years.

from Restorying Our Lives: Personal Growth through Autobiographical Reflection by Kenyon, Gary M., and William L. Randall (1997)

Your story, it’s not boring and ordinary, by the way. We just get the one life, you know. Just one. You can’t live someone else’s or think it’s more important just because it’s more dramatic. What happens matters, maybe only to us, but it matters.

from the movie Ghost Town

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.

Isaac Asimov (c. 1920 – 1992), science fiction writer

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881), British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister

The longer we listen to one another – with real attention – the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.

Barbara Deming (1917 – 1984), American feminist and advocate of nonviolent social change

…and there’s more here!

Photo by iStockphoto

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4 Responses to 50 Fantastic Life Story Quotations!

  1. Dan, Wonderful quotes to start my monday morning. THANK YOU!
    Tina Martin

  2. Dear Dan,
    The link seems to be broken – I’d love to read the rest of the list if you have them!

  3. @ Jane Shafron. I checked the link and it seems okay. If you click on the word HERE, it should work. If it doesn’t, I’ll see if anyone else is having the problem.

    Thanks for alerting me to this.

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