There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.
Great thinkers and philosophers have been trying to understand themselves, their relationships, life and the reasons “why” everything else exists since the dawn of time.
The first cave paintings were expressions of, “why am I here” and “what does it all mean”.
Looking for quotes from these great thinkers about understanding yourself is just the newest expression of that ancient need. The need to understand yourself and your place in the universe.
In this collection of quote posts, we look at quotes about understanding yourself, understanding others, understanding life, understanding relationships, and understanding why.
These quotes will give us some insights into self awareness and what it means to a human in our modern-day and age.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from these understanding quotes. But don’t just listen to me, let’s get into the first set of quotes.
(Side note: Another positive way to improve your 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 FREE, informative news from this website.)
What You Will Learn
Quotes about understanding yourself
“‘Know thyself?’ If I knew myself, I’d run away.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”– George Moore
“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.”– Sir Thomas Browne
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – C.G. Jung
“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”– Mark Twain
“I think somehow we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision.”– Eleanor Roosevelt
“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”– Jiddu Krishnamurti
“Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”– Ann Landers
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”– Socrates
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”– Henry David Thoreau
“Self-questioning and a desire to gain self-understanding is the fêted act of humankind.”– Kilroy J. Oldster
“The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.”– Julien Green
“The man that wars with and judges others is eternally lost. The man that wars with and judges himself is eternally found.”– Jason Versey
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”– Benjamin Franklin
“There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you’ve grown in self-control, judgment, generosity, and unselfishness.”– Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”– Aldous Huxley
“What I do is the truest mirror of who I am.”– Craig D. Lounsbrough
“You may never live long enough to discover who you are, but by the time you reach middle age you will hopefully realize who you are not.”– James Rozoff
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”– Buddha
Understanding yourself. Sometimes easier said than done.
This is key to the practice of mindfulness.
When we are mindful we try to slow down the world around us and truly pay attention to our surroundings and our reactions to the stimuli. Being mindful will help you be more aware and vice versa.
If you want to understand about yourself, therefore, a good way to go about it is to practice a little mindfulness or self-awareness training. It just so happens I have some great articles on both self-awareness and mindfulness to help you out…
What is mindfulness? As the title suggests, this might be the post for you to read if you have never heard of the concept of mindfulness. It gives you the basics and adds a few exercises to help you get started.
How to Practice Mindfulness: This is basically the ultimate guide to mindfulness: it includes 20 benefits of mindfulness, history of mindfulness, basics of how to practice mindfulness, step-by-step mindfulness guide, how to be mindful: at work, when anxious, in classroom, for parents, for students, for teens and more. It even has a bunch of nifty mindfulness picture quotes for you to enjoy.
Mindfulness Exercises: This is a long list of 71 different exercises you can do to increase mindfulness. This does not mean you need to (or would even want to) do all 71 exercises. It just gives you a large reservoir of mindfulness exercises to pick and choose from.
What is self-awareness & how can you become more self aware. The concepts of self-awareness and mindfulness are very close. But they are not exactly the same thing. This post explains self-awareness in detail and gives you the tools to become more self-aware in your everyday life.
Self Awareness Activities. This is a simple, but detailed post giving you many clear options and activities to increase your self-awareness. Like mindfulness. This is a buffet of ideas. Pick your favorites. Not a list of “must-have” steps for being self-aware.
Let’s dig back into the understanding quotes. Next up we have quotes on understanding others…
Quotes about understanding others
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”– Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“…treat people with understanding when you can, and fake it when you can't until you do understand.”– Kim Harrison
“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”– Marvin J. Ashton
“If you want understanding try giving some.”– Malcolm Forbes
“If you wish to please people, you must begin by understanding them.”– Charles Reade
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.” – Lloyd Shearer
“There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge.” – Ayn Rand
“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett
“We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.” – Gwendolyn Brooks
“What better way is there no make men love one another than to make men understand one another. True charity comes only with clarity-just as mercy is but justice that understands. Surely the root of all evil is the inability to see clearly that which is.”– Will Durant
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Most of the quotes on this page are about “Understanding”. That is understanding with the capital U. LIke understanding your place in the world. The universe. LIfe. The big questions. This next section is sort of the opposite of those big questions.
These are quotes about not understanding. Quotes about confusion. Quotes about bewilderment, uncertainty, ignorance, disarray, puzzlement, perplexity, befuddlement. Everything to do with the angst of not knowing or understanding why…
Quotes about not understanding
“A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.” – Bertrand Russell
“Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.”– Chinese proverb
“But why, why, why can't people just say what they mean?” – Graeme Simsion
“If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.” – Haruki Murakami
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair
“It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.” – J.D. Salinger
“Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist.” – Madeleine L'Engle
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” – Albert Einstein
“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Joseph Fort Newton
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” – Shannon L. Alder
For the next question philosophers, writers, scientists and even the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer give us their own personal views about understanding life.
This is a big question. Probably the biggest question.
My personal take is that life is about building good habits to help ourselves grow as people as we get older. Do good for others as often as possible, and try to give more to the world than we take from it. (These karma quotes may help remind you to do good more often.)
I would be interested in hearing YOUR philosophy about what is important in life in the comments at the end of the page.
But for now, let’s get to the quotes about understanding life….
Quotes about understanding life
“I have tried sedulously not to laugh at the acts of man, nor to lament them, nor to detest them, but to understand them.”– Baruch Spinoza
“Life is your teacher. How can you learn to understand your truth, if you deny your reality?” – Lorraine Nilon
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”– Marie Curie
“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand.”– Hayley Williams
“The funny thing about facing imminent death is that it really snaps everything else into perspective.” – James Patterson
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard
“The more thoroughly a person understands life, the less he will mock, though in the end, he might still mock the “thoroughness of his understanding.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” – Aristotle
“To waste one hour is proof that you lack an understanding of life.” – Sunday Adelaja
Relationships seem to be incomprehensible to many people. Why are two people who are so similar doomed for estrangement and divorce, while another couple who seem to have nothing in common may live happily together for 50 years?
How do relationships work? Why are we attracted? Why do we not understand our friends and loved ones?
This next batch of understanding quotes are ones about understanding relationships. The powerful quotes below are trying to get a handle on the thread that weaves all relationships together and understand how to make relationships work and why even when they should, sometimes they don’t
Quotes about understanding relationships
“Do not seek the because – in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.” – Anaïs Nin
“I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother.” – Martha Gellhorn
“Love is when you can understand each other's silences.” – Avijeet Das
“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.” – John O'Donohue
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” – Ernest Hemingway
“True love is born from understanding.” – Gautama Buddha
“Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.” – Richard Bach
“When the heart is won, the understanding is easily convinced.”– Charles Simmons
“When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.” – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” – Donald Miller
In the final section of understanding quotes, we come to the ultimate question. Why. Why are we here? Why do we exist? What is our purpose?
Of course, “God” is the simple answer for all believers out there. It gives us a warm feeling to know that there is an ultimate reason and purpose to our existence. But ever since Eve pulled the apple off the tree, people have still wanted to understand more of the why’s of life.
Below are the attempts of some of history's greatest minds to find answers to those hard to fathom “why” questions.
Quotes about understanding why
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”– Galileo Galilei
“Don't you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity because it hasn't developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don't expect to see.” – Douglas Adams
“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” – Hermann Hesse
“Find a purpose to serve, not a lifestyle to live.” – Criss Jami
“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.”– Abraham Maslow
“No, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere.” – Sigmund Freud
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” – J.K. Rowling
“If you know the ‘why', you can live any ‘how'.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.”– Barbara Hall
“There exists a passion for comprehension, just as there exists a passion for music. That passion is rather common in children but gets lost in most people later on. Without this passion, there would be neither mathematics nor natural science.”– Albert Einstein
“Truth searches for no one. It waits to be found.” – Suzy Kassem
Thoughts about understanding quotes?
What did you think about the choices for these quotes about understanding? Did you like these quotes? Think the choices are wrong? Or wonderful? Please share your thoughts about all the understanding quotes in the comment below. If you had a favorite or one you hated, let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed this post or any of the big picture quotes on understanding please take the time to share the quotes/post on your favorite social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Social shares are always greatly appreciated.
Finally, if you want another positive way to improve your life, then 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 FREE, informative news from this website.