87 Bruce Lee Quotes to Help You Be Like Water
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Bruce Lee was more than just a movie star. He was also a philosopher, an author, a poet, and a teacher of martial arts.
He brought martial arts to the world’s attention like nobody else could. More importantly, his movies bridged the cultural divide between the East and the West during a time when the world was not yet open to ethnic equality.
Almost half a century after his death, many who encounter his works and words are still inspired by them. Many people who read his books find his philosophy to be good advice on how they should live their lives.
Today, we feature 87 Bruce Lee quotes that empower you to live a legendary life.
(Side note: One way to find success in life is to read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest news from Wall St. to Silicon Valley. This newsletter is a 5-minute read that's informative, witty and FREE!)
What You Will Learn
First, here are some inspirational quotes from the legend himself.
Bruce Lee Inspirational Quotes
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”
“It doesn’t matter you were born as Legend. But what does matter is Legendary End. Think about it.”
“Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” – Bruce Lee
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
“If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll only make it impossible.”
“It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
“‘What is’ is more important than ‘what should be.’ Too many people are looking at ‘what is’ from a position of thinking ‘what should be’.”
“But neither can you condemn nor justify and yet be extraordinarily alive as you walk on. You can never invite the wind but you must leave the window open.”
“Real living is living for others.”
“It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.”
“When we hold to the core, the opposite sides are the same if they are seen from the center of the moving circle. I do not experience; I am experience. I am not the subject of experience; I am that experience. I am awareness. Nothing else can be I or can exist.”
“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”
“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
“Only the self-sufficient stand alone – most people follow the crowd and imitate.”
“Be happy, but never satisfied.”
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”
“Reality is apparent when one ceases to compare. There is “what is” only when there is no comparison at all, and to live with what is, is to be peaceful.”
“Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
“The world is full of people who are determined to be somebody or to give trouble. They want to get ahead, to stand out. Such ambition has no use for a gung fu man, who rejects all forms of self-assertiveness and competition.”
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
“If there is a God, he is within. You don’t ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.”
“Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.”
“It is futile to argue as to which single leaf, which design of branch, or which attractive flower you like; when you understand the root, you understand all its blossoming.” -Bruce Lee
One thing that Bruce Lee was known for was his strength. Although he died early, stories of his feats as a martial artist continue to amaze many people.
His most famous one was probably the one-inch punch. Also, he was known to do pushups using just a single finger. There are also stories of him using chopsticks to catch rice thrown in the air.
His quotes on strength, endurance, and bravery can be applied to motivate you to work out or go after your dreams no matter what obstacles are standing in your way.
Bruce Lee Quotes on Strength, Endurance, and Bravery
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
“Remember no man is really defeated unless he is discouraged.”
“Endurance is lost rapidly if one ceases to work at its maximum.”
“Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.”
“A powerful athlete is not a strong athlete, but one who can exert his strength quickly. Since power equals force times speed, if the athlete learns to make faster movements he increases his power, even though the contractile pulling strength of his muscles remains unchanged. Thus, a smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly.”
“The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.”
“The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.” – Bruce Lee
Do you wonder what success looks like?
For Bruce Lee, success did not mean resting on his laurels. He continually trained to become the best in his discipline.
Lee believed that people should not limit what they know to one single thing. He studied various styles of martial arts, resulting in the development of his own style—jeet kune do.
The following Bruce Lee quotes about life, growth, and self-awareness show us what it takes to attain success, whether in your career, business, or personal life.
Bruce Lee Quotes About Life, Growth, and Self-Awareness
“If you truly love life, don’t waste time because time is what life is made of.”
“Life is something for which there is no answer; it must be understood from moment to moment.”
“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”
“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.”
“Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.”
“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.”
“Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.”
“After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”
“The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action is and, more importantly, his thinking becomes mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.”
“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems.”
“Instead of dedicating your life to actualize a concept of what you should be like, ACTUALIZE YOURSELF. The process of maturing does not mean to become a captive of conceptualization. It is to come to the realization of what lies in our innermost selves.”
“It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you’re being knocked down, ‘Why am I being knocked down?’ If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person.”
“As you think, so shall you become.”
“I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.”
“The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.”
“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee
“The biggest adversary in our life is ourselves. We are what we are, in a sense, because of the dominating thoughts we allow to gather in our head. All concepts of self-improvement, all actions and paths we take, relate solely to our abstract image of ourselves. Life is limited only by how we really see ourselves and feel about our being. A great deal of pure self-knowledge and inner understanding allows us to lay an all-important foundation for the structure of our life from which we can perceive and take the right avenues.”
“Be self aware, rather than a repetitious robot.”
“Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.”
“Self-knowledge involves relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Relationship is a process of self-evaluation and self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself – to be is to be related.”
“For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.”
“Time means a lot to me because you see I am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing.”
“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.”
“In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.” – Bruce Lee
“You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”
“A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.”
“If I tell you I'm good, probably you will say I'm boasting. But if I tell you I'm not good, you'll know I'm lying.”
“Satori — in the awakening from a dream. Awakening and self-realization and seeing into one's own being — these are synonymous.”
“Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.”
“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.”
“Never try to copy a successful personality.”
“The essential quality of living life lies simply in the living.”
One of Bruce Lee’s famous quotes is about water. It is interpreted to refer to his precision as a martial arts practitioner and teacher, as well as the way he lived his entire life.
Water can be a metaphor for adaptability, which is essential for success in all aspects of life.
Bruce Lee understood this necessity. May the following quotes help you realize the importance of being flexible in life.
Bruce Lee Quotes About Water and Adaptability
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” – Bruce Lee
“Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” – Bruce Lee
“The moment is freedom. I couldn’t live by a rigid schedule. I try to live freely from moment to moment, letting things happen and adjusting to them.”
“Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.”
“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”
“When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”
“The idea is that flowing water never goes stale, so just keep on flowing.”
“Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being ‘wholly’ and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.” – Bruce Lee
“The best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt on any style. He kicks too good for a Boxer, throws too good for a Karate man, and punches too good for a Judo man.”
Bruce Lee left a legacy that continues to inspire even today, both in the films he made and the words he wrote.
Which of these Bruce Lee quotes resonated with you the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.
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Here’s to living a legendary life.
Finally, one way to find success in life is to read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest news from Wall St. to Silicon Valley. This newsletter is a 5-minute read that's informative, witty and FREE.