77 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Mindfulness (To Live a More Meaningful Life)

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If you want to hear some great quotes on mindfulness, one of the best people to listen to (or read from) is Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh quotes on mindfulness are plentiful.

He wrote books about peace and mindfulness for decades. In fact, Thich is known as the “Father of Mindfulness” for the sheer immensity of work he did in that area.

Thich was the leader of a network of over 600 monks and nuns, who in turn teach mindfulness to thousands of lay students around the world. Spreading his words of peace, nonviolence, mindfulness, community & love around the world.

In addition to being noted for his amazing contribution to the mindfulness movement, Thich was a long term fighter for equality & nonviolence. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. once referred to Thich as “an apostle of peace and nonviolence”.

Thich was born to humble beginnings in central Vietnam in 1926. He began his training as a Buddhist at only 16 years old. In the 1960s he began to gain notice for his teachings on engaged Buddhism. (Also known as Humanistic Buddhism). His idea was that, Buddhists needed to be more than just contemplative. They needed to share and promote their wisdom to the world, trying to make changes for the better.

Throughout his life. Thich was a teacher. He constantly engaged himself in the peace movement around the world, once being nominated for a Nobel peace prize by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King.

He ran the West’s largest and most active Buddhist monastery, Plum Village, where thousands of people come to learn “practices such as walking meditation, sitting meditation, eating meditation, total relaxation, working meditation and stopping, smiling, and breathing mindfully.”

He founded the “Wake Up” movement that helps young people to receive training on the art of mindfulness and meditation.

Then, of course, there are dozens of books he wrote on mindfulness, meditation, peace and more. Thich was an active writer for many years and his books (and the ideas held into them) may be the crowning jewel of a life spent in service to making the world a better place.

Thich Nhat Hanh passed away on January 22, 2022. All throughout his 95 years, he showed himself, again-and-again, to live to these high ideals of promoting change through nonviolence, education and love.

These Thich Nhat Hanh quotes are almost exclusively taken from sections of his many books. If you like these mindfulness quotes. Why not check out some of the Thich Nhat Hanh books at the bottom of the page and experience some of the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh for yourself?

But enough about the great man. Let's get to the goodies. Some great Thich Nhat Hanh quotes, starting below.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Compassion

  1. Look at flowers, butterflies, trees, and children with the eyes of compassion. Compassion will change your life and make it wonderful.
  1. To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
  2. When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.”
vietnamese monk thich nhat hanh quotes
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Life

  1. Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
  2. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
  3. “We are all the leaves of one tree. We are all the waves of one sea.”
thich nhat hanh quotes images
“Our own life has to be our message.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. “We have to learn to live our life as a human being deeply. We need to live each breath deeply so that we have peace, joy and freedom as we breathe.”
  2. “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Meditation and Enlightenment

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Meditation and Enlightenment
“Enlightenment is growing all the time. It is not something that happens once and is then complete.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
  2. Sitting in meditation is nourishment for your spirit and nourishment for your body, as well.
  3. To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.
  4. My actions are my only true belongings.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Joy and Happiness

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Joy and Happiness
Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.
  2. The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don't wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.
  3. It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don't have to run into the future in order to get more.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Living in the Present Moment

thích nhất hạnh the present moment
The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. Life is available only in the present moment.
  2. No one has ever lived in the past or the future, only the now.
  3. The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
  4. While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.
  5. Yesterday is already gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us; it is the most important day of our lives.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Love

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.
  2. “In true love, you attain freedom.
  3. Patience is the mark of true love. If you truly love someone, you will be more patient with that person.
  4. True love always brings joy to ourselves and to the one we love. If our love does not bring joy to both of us, it is not true love.
  5. When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about True Freedom

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about True Freedom
Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” 
  2. Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go.
  3. Not talking, by itself, already can bring a significant degree of peace. If we can also offer ourselves the deeper silence of not thinking, we can find, in that quiet, a wonderful lightness and freedom.

(If you're interested in discussions about true freedom and other philosophical topics, here's a list of our favorite philosophy podcasts.)

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”- Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. Every one of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.
  2. For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.
  3. If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.
  4. Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.
  5. The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight can liberate us from our anxiety and worries. We let go of the past and the future, and come in touch with the wonders of the present.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Taking Calming Breaths

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Taking Calming Breaths
“Your body is your first home. Breathing in, I arrive in my body. Breathing out, I am home.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath.”
  2. Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.
  3. Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” 
  4. Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a water snake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Learning

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Learning
“Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand. Understanding means to throw away your knowledge.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness, and strength so we can help transform the situation.
  2. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.
  3. There are thousands of channels in our consciousness; it is up to us to choose the channel.”

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about Anger and Violence

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore. - Thich Nhat Hanh
“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
  2. “People kill and are killed because they cling too tightly to their own beliefs and ideologies. When we believe that ours is the only faith that contains the truth, violence and suffering will surely be the result.” 
  3. “Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war. Protesting the war is too late.”

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes about the Earth

  1. You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment.
  2. Your true home is in the here and the now.
  3. The earth is not the environment, something outside of us that we need to care for. The earth is us. Taking care of the earth, we take care of ourselves.
  4. You only need to walk in mindfulness, making peaceful, happy steps on our planet. Breathe deeply, and enjoy your breathing. Be aware that the sky is blue and the birds' songs are beautiful. Enjoy being alive and you will help the living Christ and the living Buddha continue for a long, long time.

Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, that the Earth is only the environment. That is a dualistic way of seeing.

  1. When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection; love is born.
  2. Around us, life bursts with miracles – a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life's daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.
  3. Many people suffer deeply and they do not know they suffer. They try to cover up the suffering by being busy. Many people get sick today because they get alienated from Mother Earth.
  4. The earth is so beautiful. We are beautiful also. We can allow ourselves to walk mindfully, touching the earth, our wonderful mother, with each step. We don't need to wish our friends, ‘Peace be with you.' Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.
  5. Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.
  6. What we most need to do is to hear within us the sound of the Earth crying.”

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Food and Mindful Eating

  1. Don’t chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. If you chew your planning and your anxiety, it’s difficult to feel grateful for each piece of food. Just chew your food.
  2. Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow? When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.
  3. Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip.
  4. Your journey to a healthier weight is not a journey that you start and then give up. It is a journey that you are living every day for the rest of your life.
  5. If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.

Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.

  1. At its most essential, the apple you hold is a manifestation of the wonderful presence of life. It is interconnected with all that is. It contains the whole universe; it is an ambassador of the cosmos coming to nourish our existence. It feeds our body, and if we eat it mindfully, it also feeds our soul and recharges our spirit.
  2. The Buddha said, ‘Nothing can survive without food.’ This is a very simple and very deep truth. Love and hate are both living phenomena. If we do not nourish our love, it will die and may turn into hate. If we want love to last, we have to nurture it and give it food every day. Hate is the same; if we don’t feed it, it cannot survive.
  3. There are some people who eat an orange but don't really eat it. They eat their sorrow, fear, anger, past, and future.
  4. Eating is not only nourishing for the body, but also for the mind.
  5. When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal’s creation as well a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health, and our planet’s health.

​If you'd to learn more about building the mindfulness habit, I recommend checking out this year-long physical journal that has 365 daily prompts.

Books by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh Classics 

Thich Nhat Hanh explains how to acquire the skills of mindfulness and how even simple acts like washing the dishes or drinking a cup of tea may be transformed into acts of meditation.
Old Path White Clouds presents the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha retold by Thich Nhat Hanh in his inimitably beautiful style.
Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. He teaches the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. 
Thich Nhat Hanh brings his warmth and clarity to this unique explication of Zen Buddhism. He illustrates the character of Zen as practiced in Vietnam, and gives the reader clear explanations of the central elements of Zen practice and philosophy.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers an insightful guide to living a fuller life. He illuminates how each of us can incorporate the practice of mindfulness into our every waking moment.
The book describes the four methods of mindfulness: mindfulness of the body, the feelings, the mind, and the object of mind. It teaches how to deal with anger and jealousy, to nurture the best qualities in our children, spouse, and friends, and to greet death with compassion and equanimity.
In lucid, meditative prose, he explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which the two traditions (Buddhism and Christianity) meet, and he reawakens our understanding of both. 
Thich Nhat Hanh shows the way to overcome our recurrent obstacles to love—by learning to be mindful, open, and present with ourselves and others. This guide to loving also introduces the four key aspects of love described in the Buddhist tradition—loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom.
The book provides indispensable insight on the essentials of Buddhist thought and offers a range of simple, everyday practices for cultivating mindfulness. These teachings empower us to witness the wonder of life and transform our suffering, both within us and around us, into compassion, tenderness, and peace in this very moment. 

Thich Nhat Hanh's Mindfulness Essentials

The Mindfulness Essentials Series by Thich Nhat Hanh offers clear, simple directions and inspiration for anyone wanting to explore mindfulness meditation in its many forms. These pocket-sized books are perfect for those brand new to mindfulness as well as for those looking to deepen their spiritual practice.

And if you want more eye-opening quotes, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's truly important to you..

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