Maya Angelou, the award-winning writer, poet, actress, and civil rights activist, left behind so many valuable and life-changing lessons for all of us to learn. And today I will be sharing with you, 21 of these powerful lessons.
21 Life-Changing Lessons to Learn from Maya Angelou
1. Love liberates.
“Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.” ~ Maya Angelou
2. Attitude is everything.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou
3. Respect yourself.
“I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too.”~ Maya Angelou
4. You are more than what happens to you.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”~ Maya Angelou
5. You can only love others as much as you love yourself.
“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” ~ Maya Angelou
6. Life isn’t about surviving but about thriving.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ~ Maya Angelou
7. You should never lose your faith in LOVE.
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ~ Maya Angelou
“To those who have given up on love: I say, “Trust life a little bit.”~ Maya Angelou
8. Ask and you shall receive.
“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!” ~ Maya Angelou
“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” ~ Maya Angelou
9. You alone are enough.
“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”~ Maya Angelou
10. Challenges are opportunities for growth.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”~ Maya Angelou
“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!”~ Maya Angelou
11. There’s a difference between merely aging and growing up.
“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”~ Maya Angelou
12. Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”~ Maya Angelou
13. Your parents will always be your parents.
“I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.”~ Maya Angelou
14. Nothing lasts forever. Appreciate everything while you still have it.
“There were people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. 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.”~ Maya Angelou
15. You weren’t born to blend in, you were born to stand out.
“If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou
16. Making a living is not the same as making a life.
“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”~ Maya Angelou
17. Dreams won’t work unless you do.
“Nothing will work unless you do.”~ Maya Angelou
18. Great things take time.
“All great achievements require time.”~ Maya Angelou
19. Diversity is a beautiful thing.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” ~ Maya Angelou
20. Fear is a waste of time.
“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”~ Maya Angelou
21. Each of us has the power to change lives.
“Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren’t, we should behave as though we are — cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.”~ Maya Angelou
BONUS: Maya Angelou Quotes
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.” ~ Maya Angelou
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
“We need much less than we think we need.”
“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”
“I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.”
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.”
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
“We are only as blind as we want to be. “
“I got my own back. “
R.I.P. Maya Angelou. Thank you for sharing your love, your knowledge, and your wisdom with all of us. The world was, is and will be a better place just because you have lived. You will be missed.
~love, Luminita 💫
“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.”
“Had I known that the heart breaks slowly, dismantling itself into unrecognizable plots of misery… had I known yet I would have loved you, your brash and insolent beauty, your heavy comedic face and knowledge of sweet delights, but from a distance I would have left you whole and wholly for the delectation of those who wanted more and cared less.”
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”
“Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”
“The sisters and brothers that you meet give you the materials which your character uses to build itself. It is said that some people are born great, others achieve it, some have it thrust upon them. In truth, the ways in which your character is built have to do with all three of those. Those around you, those you choose, and those who choose you.”
“Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren’t, we should behave as though we are — cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.”
“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”
“Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware. And the worst part of my awareness was that I didn’t know what I was aware of. I knew I knew very little, but I was certain that the things I had yet to learn wouldn’t be taught to me at George Washington High School. ”
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”
“Strong women- precious jewels all- their humanness is evident in their accessibility. We are able to enter into the spirit of these women and rejoice in their warmth and courage.”
“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education. ”
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“The charitable say in effect, ‘I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need. I would like to share my excess with you.’ Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.”
“I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God’s will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed.”
“Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it empowers us to develop courage; to trust that courage and build bridges with it; to trust those bridges and cross over them so we can attempt to reach each other.”
“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”
“People whose history and future were threatened each day by extinction considered that it was only by divine intervention that they were able to live at all. I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God’s will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at a commensurate speed.”
“I do not need to know all things. I remind myself that it is sufficient that I know what I know and know that without believing that I will always know what I know or that what I know will always be true.”
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound. I really love language. I love it for wate it does for us, how it allows us to explain the pain and the glory, the nuances and delicacies of our existence. And then it allows us to laugh, allows us to show wit. Real wit is shown in language. We need language.”
** What is your favorite quote from Maya Angelou? What is one lesson you have learned from this amazing woman? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂