Entrepreneur, author, and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens or better known by his pen name Mark Twain has achieved so much we can say his life was well-lived.
But while the success of his books and lectures prove just that, his humor and quotes and wise words prove he also wanted us all to live a good life.
Writer and Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature” and maybe, just maybe, Faulkner was right.
Mark Twain’s words and the legacy of his work will always stay with us. And best of all, we can always go back to his work for inspiration, or simply when life feels shaky.
Twain was not a perfect man. He had failures that are documented for the world to know. But there are countless occurrences in life when his wit and humor are the perfect solution to. We’ve collected some of his quotes and while we can’t tack all of these on our walls (or maybe we can), at least we can have them on our phone’s bookmarks or something.
Nothing can be more enjoyable than reading Twain every now and then. The lessons and tips to live a good life are endless. And the humor wraps everything together really well.
Below we summarize the top 25 Mark Twain quotes.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. ~ Mark Twain
The chaos in this world often fills our lives and the next thing we know, we have no idea where we are or what we’re doing. There are countless times when an average human being who has dreams and imagination would stop and ask “what the hell am I doing?” This is not an act of craziness, dear friends. This is what happens when you know you are alive but you have no clue why. This is also a sign that you should go out and find out that one thing you believe you’re supposed to do.
Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. ~ Mark Twain
We all love doing this. Say you don’t and I can bet you’re lying. We always blame the world for not being kind enough or for not giving us the life we deserve. Seriously, don’t you think you should go work for that kind of life? A good life is not about what this world can offer because it has a lot to offer. A good life is about what you’re willing to work hard for and what you want to achieve.
A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies. ~ Mark Twain
This quote can be as literal as you want it to be. Because really, what is the point of half-truths? None. It just proves you’re too coward to reveal the truth and too coward to make a lie and then take responsibility when everybody discovers you lied. Instead of giving away half-truths to hopefully justify your actions, it’s better to go for full truths and commit to it. Easier said than done but always worth it.
The secret to getting ahead is getting started. ~ Mark Twain
It’s human nature to want to do something but also figure out a thousand reasons to put that thing off for tomorrow. This is why square one is always the hardest, because square one is where you actually need to make the step and start. But keep in mind that if you want to achieve something, it will only happen if you make the decision to start. There’s no such thing as dreaming for something and waking up owning it. Work needs to take place.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. ~ Mark Twain
There will always be a point in life where you’ll find yourself on the side of the majority. When you’ll realize you’re taking the path millions of other people are also taking. When you get to this point, you may want to pause and ask yourself if it’s really the path you want to take, or you’re only taking it because you’re not alone and therefore, it feels safe. Sometimes, we mistake company for safety. We mistake crowded spaces for right spaces.
A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. ~ Mark Twain
Nothing can be more important than self-love and self-appreciation. It is something you should give to yourself because you know you deserve it, and because you know that you matter. People have these special spaces where they feel comfortable. Spaces where they give the go signal to themselves to be who they really are. And such space is something you owe to yourself. Because if you feel comfortable on something, other people’s approval of it won’t matter. What would only matter is your approval and your well-being.
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. ~ Mark Twain
There is a fine line between seeing someone’s goals as foolish and actually belittling this man. Some people may think your goal is insane but they’re there to support you anyway. Others think you are insane and they’re there to depreciate you. You would want to steer away from the latter. It’s always better to be with those who don’t understand but sill support you than those who just pull you lower to the ground because they don’t get you.
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. ~ Mark Twain
They say it takes a strong man to survive this world, and maybe they’re right. Because sometimes, this world is a battlefield and sometimes is a garden. Either way, you need to determine how much fight there is inside of you. I’m not saying plow into everything that comes your way, but when it is needed, even a small man face-to-face with a giant will win if he’s got a big fight in him. Even the small you could win against the big dark clouds.
The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for. ~ Mark Twain
This Twain quote can’t be any truer. Finding that person we can call friend through thick and thin is probably one of the most difficult tasks in life. Sure, we all have friends, but not all of them are willing to stick with us on our most stupid days. Some only want to stay when we’re succeeding, and those are not the kind of friends you’d want to keep. It’s better to have few, true friends than many, sometimes-friend.
Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it. ~ Mark Twain
It is a fact that some people are not worthy of the truth. This may sound negative but it’s reality. There will always be the people who don’t really care about the truth. What they care about is for things to go their way, even if these things are studded with lies and pretend-realities. These are the kind of people you wouldn’t want to waste time with. The people who don’t deserve your truth because they don’t fully understand the concept of truth.
It’s better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them. ~ Mark Twain
Many of us tend to be all over about what we deserve. We never run out of list of things we believe the world should thank us for. Things everyone else should merit us for. But do we ever pause and check if we really deserve these things that we believe we do? And if we’re given honors and recognition, do we really deserve this? Is it really for us? Are we worthy of such recognition? Think.
Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. ~ Mark Twain
Worrying is part of our daily lives. It’s also a healthy feeling. It keeps our feet on the ground and keeps us keen about what’s happening around. But too much of it is simply a burden. And worrying on events we can’t really control… it’s quite pointless. Perhaps we should check up on ourselves to know what we’re really worried about. And to know if these things are worth worrying about because more often than not, we’re just overthinking.
Don’t part with your illusions. When they’re gone, you may still exist but you have ceased to live. ~ Mark Twain
There’s a fine line between existing and living and we get to make a choice, and then choose again if we don’t like the first choice. But that would be a waste of time if we do it over and over again. So maybe it would be better if you choose to define existing and living, and then choose which one you really want. Your illusions will help you along the way; your illusions, believe it or not, will keep you sane.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die anytime. ~ Mark Twain
Living fully is probably one of the most difficult thing to do. Because really, how does one live fully? There’s no definite answer to this, but it’s safe to say that enjoying everything you do is one way to put it. Focus on the things you’re passionate about and don’t fight so much with the universe, and then, the idea of dying will remain a mere thought. Nothing more. I’m not certain but chances are, it won’t bother you at all.
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. ~ Mark Twain
Seriously, just don’t. It’s a waste of time. Not that we’re belittling stupid people, but they’re called stupid for a reason. And they are in a totally different realm, a different level. When you decide to argue with them, you’re paving your way to their realm and it will be late when you realize it’s not a pretty place to be. You will realize you’ve been doing something nonsense and it won’t be easy to stop. So don’t even start.
Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else. ~ Mark Twain
This quote of Twain may not sound pretty. But even if you’re having the best time of your life, or even if you’re having the best life you can think of, the world isn’t as kind as you think it is. So yes, to be somewhere else is a necessity. This may be a literal understanding but yes, sometimes, we need books to get away and breathe. Even when life feels so good, we need to be someplace else because our world can be too much.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. ~ Mark Twain
Some people think being courageous means not being afraid. Many mistake bravery for being made of titanium. It’s not. Courage is knowing full well that fear is alive within you yet you still choose to go for whatever you’re afraid of. You still choose to push forward. Courage is mastering the art of playing with fear, not erasing it. Because life is probably going to suck if fear isn’t around. It’s not going to look good at all.
The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. ~ Mark Twain
We, as mere humans, tend to be fond of laughing at others who cannot do the things we can… who haven’t achieved the things we thought to be so easy we achieved it with flying colors. But more often than not, these easy things are also the same things we don’t do anymore, for more reasons than one. So what’s the point of knowing when we don’t even practice them? What makes us any different to those who actually can’t do it?
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. ~ Mark Twain
The lying game is something we all play. Even nuns and priests have lied at some point in their lives. The problem with lying is that you have to remember what lie you told to whom. This can be really exhausting. So instead of lying, why not simply tell the truth, even if it’s ugly? Just like any other matters in life, it’s not that easy. But it is definitely going to make our lives easier in the long run.
The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself. ~ Mark Twain
The thing about loneliness that nobody gets is that it is a good place, just like happiness. Feeling lonely is not synonymous to feeling depressed. And just like in happiness, there’s also magic in loneliness. The moment you become comfortable with yourself – with your flaws and failures and potentials, that’s the moment when the magic begins. That’s when you’ll realize loneliness doesn’t look as bad as how others describe it. Fact is, lonely is only ugly when you aren’t comfortable even with your own skin.
Reality can be beaten with enough imagination. ~ Mark Twain
Reality sucks. This isn’t a 100% fact but it is a fact. The only fun thing about reality is that you’re free to imagine. And with enough imagination, you get to make a better reality – maybe for yourself or maybe for others in the future. How do you think did inventors started out? They imagined things. If they didn’t, we’re still probably stuck with stones. If they didn’t have enough willpower to keep on imagining for a better tomorrow, today would probably still be so gray.
That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it. ~ Mark Twain
Isn’t it fun to talk about things and exchange opinions with others? This part is the fun part. But when you exchange opinion with someone who pretends to know everything and won’t accept the fact that you know better, this is the non-fun part. This is the part where you just have to sit still, control your emotions and accept the fact that there will always be those who think they’re the king of everything.
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. ~ Mark Twain
If you say you’ve never been afraid to ask, I would bet you’re lying. The thing about asking is that many people are afraid to do it, and when they do it, these same people tend to deny about doing it. I mean, that’s just crazy. Let’s just face the fact that you don’t know a thing or two on something and you need someone’s help. Don’t be a fool and think you can do and solve everything on your own.
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option. ~ Mark Twain
Forget everything, just not the fact that you matter. You are valid. And you are never a mere second option. It’s okay to set priorities but it’s not okay if you consider someone a priority but you’re a mere option for them. It’s unfair and it happens because it’s life. This universe is unfair. But you’re in control of your life and you get to decide if you’ll let yourself be just an option.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been. ~ Mark Twain
I love how this quote is put. If you ask people what they can say about wrinkles, they’d probably say ugly fine lines or signs of aging. And sure, those can be true. But sometimes, the things we consider ugly are actually traces of beauty. Ugly exists so we can have a comparison to what is beautiful. And sometimes, ugly needs to be there first and keep the ground smooth so that beauty won’t feel the roughness.