9 Wisest Maya Angelou Quotes
Maya Angelou was an inspiring woman who wrote some memorable words of wisdom.
What I like most about Maya Angelou quotes is that they show that she was real. Her life wasn’t easy and she endured many terrible hardships. She wasn’t born the brilliant and strong woman that we know her as. Angelou shaped and changed herself when she needed to. She learned from her mistakes and bad experiences. She actively tried to deepen her best qualities and dissolve any negativity, ridding herself of hatred and resentment and developing her bravery and love.
Maya Angelou always acknowledged that she had to strive for success, to learn to like herself, and develop skills in order to be the best person she could be. I think this is one of the many reasons why people love Maya Angelou’s quotes. She demonstrated that anyone can become better, no matter where they start out in life.
Maya Angelou may be the ultimate study in personal development. She was always learning and as she started to change herself, she was able to change hearts and minds with her words. Her wisdom comes from her experience and learning as well as listening to her soul.
Here are some of my favourite Maya Angelou quotes and why they are so meaningful:
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
People don’t like to change – it can be a difficult and ugly process. However, change is often the key to unlock the door to success and happiness. Angelou herself went from caterpillar to butterfly. Angelou had such a powerful voice and presence that you couldn’t imagine was once a mute. And yet, for seven years she couldn’t utter a word after being unable to deal with the trauma of being sexually assaulted as a child. She had to change herself in order to become the strong, beautiful voice we recognise now.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.
Some people don’t know that Maya Angelou was a prostitute and a brothel madam before she became a renowned author, activist and poet. As a young woman, she was just trying to survive and this quote shows that she is not ashamed of her past. Maya pays tribute to the powerful path of learning to cope and do things differently, as a step by step process. If you start from behind, that’s OK, as long as you’re willing to learn how you can be better.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
You can’t fight reality, and yet so many people try to do so. Maya Angelou is recommending here that we should “be like water” (to quote Bruce Lee) and adapt our mind and actions to circumstances that we can not alter. However, we should never just put up with things we don’t like – that includes external events and qualities within ourselves. We can change them if we put in the effort. No-one is “fixed” and everyone has the power to improve at least some of their circumstances.
Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
What Maya Angelou is talking about here is the courage to be yourself, to show yourself, and to have an open heart. It takes guts to open your heart and be vulnerable, but without doing that, we can’t be our best selves. I don’t want to add too much to this quote, because I think it speaks for itself.
You develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a 100-pound weight without preparing yourself.
If you’re struggling to be brave and feel like you aren’t strong, then take heart in this quotation. Angelou developed her courage and found her voice through reading. Literature and writing was ultimately her outlet for past trauma. Again, this is a tacit acknowledgement that Angelou herself took baby steps when she needed to in order to become courageous and successful. It doesn’t matter if you need to do that too, as long as you are always moving in the direction of your goal.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
This quotation tells of two things. Of course this is about living your life fully and “singing your song”. Everyone has a purpose in life and if you can’t fulfil that, it is terribly sad for you and everyone who could have benefited from your message and wisdom. But Angelou is also referring to her traumatic life. Through writing, she was eventually able to purge herself of her earliest experiences, her “life story”. And then, she was able to move on and express her wisdom to the world.
If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.
Angelou never had a “normal” life, and many people who have had tough experiences are desperate to “just be normal”. That was my goal as well after suffering mental health issues and having a chequered past. But, once I recovered and stabilised, I realised I had much more to give the world than I ever thought before. Everyone has unique gifts and talents – you do too. Don’t settle for “normal”. Be fully yourself – something that no-one else can be. Then you’ll be amazing.
Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
Integrity is the key ingredient in this piece of wisdom. You can only be successful, in Angelou’s eyes, if you are at peace with yourself. If you use dishonesty, manipulation or other underhand methods to attain success, it’s a hollow victory. You won’t really feel the joy of true hard-won success unless you are proud of the way in which you achieved it. Success doesn’t have to mean fame or riches – it’s about developing as a person and becoming someone who is happy with themselves and their actions.
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.
This is a beautiful verse from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise, written in 1978. It sums up her struggles in life and her strength to overcome anything thrown at her. But remember, she worked hard to become that strong person. Everyone can achieve an unbreakable spirit as long as they are prepared to develop themselves. If you haven’t read much of her work yet, I recommend checking out some of Maya Angelou’s books here. We can all learn from her work and her process of personal development, which is so often revealed in her words.
What is your favourite Maya Angelou quotation and why?https://www.wiseism.com/wisest-maya-angelou-quotes/https://i2.wp.com/www.wiseism.com/wp-content/uploads/Maya_Angelou_quotes.jpg?fit=286%2C289&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.wiseism.com/wp-content/uploads/Maya_Angelou_quotes.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Wise LivingWise MindWise Wordsachievement,become happy,books,change,change your life,courage,learning,maya angelou,maya angelou quotes,personal development,self improvement,success,wisdom,wise books,wise philosophy,wise quotesMaya Angelou was an inspiring woman who wrote some memorable words of wisdom. What I like most about Maya Angelou quotes is that they show that she was real. Her life wasn't easy and she endured many terrible hardships. She wasn't born the brilliant and strong woman that we know...The WiseistBeth Burgesswiseism1@gmail.comAdministratorMy name is Beth Burgess. I don't claim to be the wisest, but I am 'The Wiseist' - someone dedicated to collecting and sharing wisdom that can help people live their lives more happily and successfully. I'm also the bestselling author of "Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways to Get Smart Fast",, a therapist, coach, freelance writer, speaker, trainer, and workshop leader. And I'm still learning too.Wiseism