Change Quotes

I noticed one day that I have a lot of quotations in my (now-128-page) Quotations document with the word “change” in them. Here they are!

“With the only uncertainty in our daily existence being change, and a rate of change growing always faster in a kind of technological leapfrog game, speed helps people think they are keeping up.” – Gail Sheehy

“We don’t have to engage in grand heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world.” – Howard Zinn

"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states." – Carol Welch, author

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The courage we need is not the courage…the fortitude, to be obedient in the service of an unjust war, to help conceal lies, to do our job by a boss who has usurped power & is acting as an outlaw government. It is the courage at last to face honestly the truth & reality of what we are doing in the world, & act responsibly to change it.” – Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, in the documentary ‘The Most Dangerous Man in America

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” – Georg Lichtenberg

“Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” – Chinese proverb

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

“Change is never inevitable, change is always carried in on the shoulders of those who bring change with them.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.Indeed – it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

“I was at a conference about peace and freedom and so on, and I was asked, being the only native there, what I saw as the solution to the problems that we have on Earth. So that’s what I suggested, you know - getting rid of private property and nation states. They asked me, really sneeringly, to please be more realistic, because, they said, private property and nation states are here to stay. And my answer to them was, that their very best scientists are trying to tell them that human life is not necessarily here to stay. So it’s time for a radical change, there’s no time for anything else.” – Native Gawitrha’in an essay in the book Circles of Strength, edited by Helen Forsey

“If the world is to be brought to order, my nation must first be changed. If my nation is to be changed, my hometown must be made over. If my hometown is to be reordered, my family must first be set right. If my family is to be regenerated, I myself must first be.” – ‘A Chinese general’ in Reader’s Digest

“The one great failure of the environmental movement is our refusal to change our lifestyle. That in itself is devastating the planet we seek to protect.” – Paul MacClennan, Great Lakes United

“In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame, even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear not change or accident.” – Henry David Thoreau

“And what I’ve learned is not to believe in magical leaders anymore, that character and compassion are more important than ideology, and that even if it’s absurd to think you can change things, it’s even more absurd to think that it’s foolish and unimportant to try.” – Peter C. Newman

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, or say, or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it." – Charles Swindoll

“If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world. That’s your choice.” – Noam Chomsky

“Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” – Ingrid Bengis

“If we want ‘sustainability,’ we too need to start with an inner change like Gandhi did, like Nelson Mandela did, like Martin Luther King did, and we should be able to say and demonstrate that ‘My Life is a Message.’ – Kamla Chowdry, Vikram Sarabhai Foundation, Earth Charter Commissioner

“Are we at the crisis point? We’re way beyond it. The crisis point was thirty years ago. Aldous Huxley said, in the 1930s, that the greatest danger was that people would come to love their servitude. The crisis comes from not only the reality of that, but also from the fact that this economic model that people have bought into is completely unsustainable in environmental and social terms. It gives the greatest power to a small number of people who happen to be chewing up the planet at a fantastic rate. That whole model of consumption and corporate celebration and living by corporate models is killing us, and will continue to do so until everything collapses – which, judging from climate change, ozone depletion and other measurements, could be fairly soon.” ~ Jerry Mander, quoted in Adbusters magazine, Nov/Dec 2001 issue

“Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” – Albert Einstein (1946)

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely...” – Karen Kaiser Clark

“A change of heart or of values without a change of practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life.” – Wendell Berry, The Idea of a Local Economy

“You’ve got to get people to believe that change is possible… You have to show that you can fight things successfully - even if you don’t win.” – Winona Laduke, Native American activist

“By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world.” – Willis Harman

“A real radical does not stand in the margins, admiring her own purity. Rather, she is a warrior to bring outsiders’ views into the center, asking, ‘How can my actions spark change for the good in the real lives of as many people as possible?’” – Naomi Wolf in Fire with Fire

“One thing is very clear: If we are to survive, then we all must be prepared to re-examine our relationship with the environment, and be willing to make major changes in our attitudes and lifestyles. For women, the issue of saving the environment is fundamental to our very existence, because it is from us that each new generation flows. Women are the backbone of the environmental movement. It is our compassion that drives us, our strength that sustains us, and the love for our children, and for our planet, that compels us. Together we can change the world.” – Suzanne Elston in “Women & the Environment”

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” ~ Robert Kennedy

“Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966.

“We know there are immunological changes that occur in humans exposed to ultraviolet light. What is important about that is the potential for that to influence the incidence of certain infectious diseases.” – Dr. Margaret Kripke, Immunologist

“Change is a prerequisite for improvement.” – Thomas Guskey

“The capacity of people to get on with what they have been doing all their lives, even when they know it is not in their best interests, is a marvel. Denial is one of the strongest of human emotions. It gets us through the shock of chronic illnesses or sudden deaths, and often it is what keeps us from making changes in life. Thus it is not enough to have a good idea or even a great one to bring about social change. People have to believe that the problem being addressed is so bad that something must be done, and they must believe that something can be done.” – Devra Davis in When Smoke Ran Like Water – Tales of Environmental Deception & the Battle Against Pollution – 2002

“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimetre, along the way…people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin, quoted in Jane Fonda’s memoir My Life So Far

“Change usually takes place for three main reasons. First, through leadership from above by institutions or individuals; secondly through public pressure from below, and thirdly - however regrettably - through some useful catastrophes to jerk us out of our inertia into more sensible courses.” – Sir Crispin Tickell

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller, *Critical Path*

“[T]here is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order.” – Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince, Quoted in “How to Change the World – Social Entrepreneurs & the Power of New Ideas” by David Bornstein

“When there is a bend in the road, the only ones who crash are those who refuse to change direction.” ~ Source unknown

“If you think mitigated climate change is expensive, try unmitigated climate change.” ~ Dr. Richard Gammon, University of Washington, on the steps of the US Congress, June 28, 1999.

“Above all else, the mentat [advisor] must be a generalist, not a specialist. It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists. Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma. The generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense. He must cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe. He must remain capable of saying: “There’s no real mystery about that at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we’ll correct that when we come to it.”

The generalist must understand that anything that we can identify as our universe is merely part of a larger phenomenon. But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty. The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop.

It is to the characteristics of change that the generalist must look. There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual. You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: “Now what is this thing doing?” – ‘The Mentat Handbook’ quoted as “The Wisdom of Dune,” by Frank Herbert, in CCPA Monitor, April 2008

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates (quoted in Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny)

“Truth comes only to those who must have it, who want it badly enough. And gifts of healing come only to those willing to change.” – Doris Janzen Longacre in the Foreword to her book Living More with Less

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” –James Baldwin

“At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. Then, there would be a real New Age.” ~ Ken Wilber

“The moment you come to trust chaos, you see God clearly. Chaos is divine order, versus human order. Change is divine order, versus human order. When the chaos becomes safety to you, then you know you’re seeing God clearly.” – Caroline Myss

“Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope – a slight change, and all patterns alter.” – Sharon Salzberg

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale

“The hard part about change, is, well…you have to actually change.” – Jon Cooksey, Director of ‘How to Boil a Frog’

“It is the vision we hold of the possible that takes us through the trials of the present.” – David LaChapelle in Navigating the Tides of Change

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple marketing phrase

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

“We do not need to protect ourselves from change, for our very nature is change.” – Joanna Macy in World as Lover, World as Self  Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal

“It’s time for the passion for change to rush over the planet like a tidal wave.” – activist Tooker Gomberg


 '“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

 “Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.” – W. Somerset Maugham

 “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large –- I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the one most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

Mind Quotes

When I was just about to post ‘Mind Matters, I went to the Quotations document where I “store” quotations, to see what I could rustle up on the subject of mind. To my surprise, a ton of good quotes came up! Here they are…

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“Have a Good Mind. No matter what situation you’re in, find something good about it, rather than the negative things. And in dealing with other human beings, find the good in them as well. We are all interdependent. Do things for others – tribe, family, community – rather than just for yourself. Look forward. Turn what has been done into a better path. If you’re a leader, think about the impact of your decisions on seven generations into the future.” – Chief Wilma Mankiller ~ traditional Cherokee precepts 

“On my 70th birthday, I was asked how I felt about mankind’s prospects.  This is my reply: We are behaving like yeasts in a brewer’s vat, multiplying mindlessly while greedily consuming the substance of a finite world. If we continue to imitate the yeasts, we will perish as they perish, having exhausted our resources and poisoned ourselves in the lethal brew of our own wastes. Unlike the yeasts, we have a choice. What will it be?” ~ Farley Mowat, 1991 

“True democracy is only possible when people have effective power over their own affairs, their own goals, and their own resources. The larger the governing unit, the less responsive it is to human needs, the more bureaucratic and inefficient its administration. Government, we must always remind ourselves, is not (or should not be) a professionally organized system to tell people how to run their affairs; it is (or should be) a means whereby people themselves are enabled to resolve matters in their own community.” ~ John Papworth in Putting Power In Its Place

“This … dream reminded me of another I had heard years before, in which a man was in a restaurant and ordered a steak; instead he was served a large platter of beans. That dream sounded like a Zen story to me and led me to reflect for a long time on the value of plain pedestrian food, especially when we consciously order up something more special. Life has a way of plopping extreme ordinariness in front of us when we are entertaining exotic gourmet daydreams.” – Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul 

“He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abe Lincoln

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” – Steve Biko

Tommy Douglas on Fascism: “Once more let me remind you what fascism is. It need not wear a brown shirt or a green shirt – it may even wear a dress shirt. Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege.”

“There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.” ~ Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, quoted on a bumper sticker

“It is possible that the scientific character of mind is by its nature childish, capable through life of a child’s wonder and excitements, but lacking real discernment, lacking sadness, too easily delighted by its own intellect. There are exceptions, of course, the physicist Steven Weinberg, for example, whom I’ve read and who has the moral gravity you would want from a scientist.”E.L. Doctorow in his novel City of God, Random House, New York 2000, pg. 12.

“All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?” – Buddha

“The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.” – Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – quoted in Utne magazine

Pema Chödrön on heaven & hell:

“There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

There isn’t any hell or heaven except for how we relate to our world. Hell is just resistance to life. When you want to say no to the situation you’re in, it’s fine to say no, but when you build up a big case to the point where you’re so convinced that you would draw your sword and cut off someone’s head, that kind of resistance to life is hell.” — page 31-32 Chapter 7 – “Taking a Bigger Perspective” – The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, Shambhala, 1991

“What you really know is possible in your heart is possible. We make it possible by our will. What we imagine in our minds becomes our world. That’s just one of many things that I have learned from water.” – Dr. Masaru Emoto in The Hidden Messages in Water

“Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you have lots fewer decisions to make.” – Joseph Campbell, quoted in the biography “A Fire in the Mind – The Life of Joseph Campbell” by Stephen & Robin Larsen

 “The wisdom of women is to join the knowing of the body to that of the mind, to join soul to spirit, intuition to reasoning, feeling consciousness to intellectual analysis, intimacy to attachment, subjective presence to objective distance. When these functions become separated in carrying out the human project then the way into the future is to bring them together.

The human project belongs to both women and men. It cannot be carried out effectively unless both are present throughout the full range of human activities: with each other and with the family, in government, in the economic enterprise, in university education, in the religious establishment, in the artistic and literary worlds. Wherever the human enterprise is taking place women belong there as well as men. Each brings distinctive abilities to the single project.

Because men in Western civilization have isolated women in the home and in a narrow band of service activities, and have appropriated for themselves both the reality and value of the adult human outside the home, the human project in its Western manifestation has become a patriarchal establishment in quest for unlimited dominance, a dominance unsettled in itself and a disturbance to the larger human community. In a corresponding way, because men have appropriated the reality and value of the Earth for their own purposes, the Earth is becoming dysfunctional. Again it is a quest for dominance.” — Chapter 16, ‘The Fourfold Wisdom’ in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, by Thomas Berry, priest, author, teacher, geologian

“There is fierceness at work here. There is no other explanation for the raw courage and heart displayed over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of knowing we are human and intend to survive. To witness the worldwide breakdown of civility into camps, ideologies, and wars, to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems, is harrowing and dispiriting.

But immune systems do fail; this movement most certainly could fail as well. What can help preserve it is the gift of self-perception, the gift of seeing who we truly are. We will either come together as one, globalized people, or we will disappear as a civilization. To come together we must know our place in a biological and cultural sense, and reclaim our role as engaged agents of our continued existence. Our minds were made to defend ourselves, born of an immune system that brought us to this stage in our development and evolution. We are surfeited with metaphors of war, such that when we hear the word defense, we think attack, but the defense of the world can be truly accomplished only by cooperation and compassion. Science now knows that while still in diapers, virtually all children exhibit altruistic behavior. Concern for the well-being of others is bred in the bone, endemic and hardwired. We became human by working together and helping one another. According to immunologist Gerald Callahan, faith and love are literally buried in our genes and lymphocytes, and what it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who and where they really are.” — Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming <Pg. 165>

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” – spoken by Merlyn the Magician in T. H. White’s *The Once and Future King*

“The open-minded see the truth in different things; the narrow-minded see only the differences.” – Source unknown

“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme creative act.” ~ Ram Dass

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” ~ William Blake – quoted in Awakening Intuition – Using Your Mind-Body Network for Insight and Healing by Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz

“Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it. <many other nuke-related quotes here> 

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw