Eleanor says…

If, like me, you read a lot, then you are exposed to a huge amount of information and, as a consequence, the thoughts and words of many, many people, outside of those you encounter in “real life” or in the various forms of media and marketing that throttle us relentlessly every day.

Some of these thoughts and words are welcome, more of them are not. But, at least with reading, you can more easily exercise quality control! (The irony of that statement in here is not lost on me, dear reader)

Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across someone whose words just resonate with you  at a really fundamental level; call it your core belief system or your heart or soul if you prefer, but whatever you call it, it’s what you truly feel and believe.

For me, no-one exemplifies this better than Eleanor Roosevelt. Her words are powerful, moving, thought-provoking and ring so true with me that when I was first exposed to them I had to go read more and more and more…

This remarkable lady is still one of the most quoted people out there, 50 years after her death. And with good reason. She was an intellectual powerhouse, with an astonishing capacity for compassion and courage.

She also possessed an extremely important and admirable attribute that I would  class as seriously lacking among us all these days: a strong social conscience. She listened to it and acted accordingly. She had many personal struggles, but they never detracted from her passionate quest for social justice.

I won’t go on too much more, as the point of this post is to let the great lady’s words speak for themselves, but I really like this short address about Eleanor Roosevelt from another former First Lady, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, and it’s really worth reading if you have a minute.

Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes, hopefully some of them may provide you with a little inspiration and possibly the urge to do a quick search and find many more and infinitely better resources to read about Eleanor Roosevelt and the most meaningful life that she led.

Eleanor says:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

Well behaved women rarely make history.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘” have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.

Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

Once I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: “No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.

No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.

We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.

Women are like teabags: you never know how strong they are until they’re put in hot water.

I have never felt that anything really mattered but knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

To be a citizen in a democracy, a human being must be given a healthy start.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.

It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.

What you don’t do can be a destructive force.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.

In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond.

Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done”.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

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Posted on October 19, 2012, in History, Ideas, Inspiration, Life, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.

  1. Fabulous post Conor! I’ve always loved Eleanor. Your tribute to her was beautiful!

  2. What a wonderful way to begin my weekend. You couldn’t have picked a better topic. Thank you so much for making my day!!!

  3. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  4. It’s a shame she isn’t here today to shame today’s so-called leaders. Wonderful quotes.

  5. For me – a real quote fan, this is absolutely wonderful! Can’ t even pick the one I like the most but really…love the post.

  6. Conor. Thanks for this post. I was not aware of these quotes, shamefully.

  7. Awesome woman, awesome post. Thanks for creating and sharing. 🙂

  8. What a very wise woman. I’ll definitely read more about her, she sounds like she was an exceptional human being. 🙂

  9. A great woman and a very wise one. Wonderful quotes, some of which I have not heard. Thank you,

  10. I’m also a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt; her words are strong and carry love and tenderness for life and for people.I could keep on quoting her on Facebook and elsewhere if I could!

  11. Thanks for bring this post to us. I like the wisdom this lady brings to us all. However I did find the last few words of your opening para so true “that throttle us relentlessly every day” . In our quest for knowledge (information) we do seem at time to suffer from overload. We forget to keep things simple.

  12. Thank you so much Conor, it was great to be reminded of this amazing woman and her wisdom. Have a lovely weekend!

  13. Great post, Conor! My high school year book quote-beneath my photo- was Eleanor’s ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ (It still is on a piece of paper tacked on my wall.) Thanks for sharing such an extensive list of the inspiring words she spoke. Loved this post.

  14. Hi Conor, Thanks for the quotes – you’re right I think they’re awesome, esp the ones I hadn’t read before (don’t be surprised if you see them pop up on pinkbananashoes sometime 😉 Keep the brilliant posts coming. A pleasure as always. Peace x

  15. Reblogged this on saymberblondi and commented:
    What a wonderful woman to remember today. Eleanor was an inspiration of her age and all that have followed. Great post Conor!

  16. Reblogged this Conor! Fantastic messages for todays people and especially women. Going to take a look at the link you posted as well. Thank you for recognizing one of the finest women in American history.

  17. Conor, awesome…couldn’t help bookmark this page. what a classic!

  18. I enjoyed this post Conor!

  19. Isn’t it funny how sometimes intelligence can be a vice — great posting.

  20. Thanks very much for this post Conor – it’s amazing how inspiring her words still are.

  21. Absolutely love this post! I have also always admired this wonderful woman, and her quotes are priceless! 🙂

  22. Really great post, thank you! She was so clever and so wise… We need more woman and man like her.

  23. These are totally fantastic, I think I may even print them out! Totally inspiring, thankyou..

  24. Truly inspirational. Love her attitude towards life. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  25. I like your blog 🙂 You have an interesting variety of topics and photos. Good work! And thanks for the Like 🙂

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