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Best Thinking Quotes to Inspire Fresh Thinking

best thinking quotes

Your thoughts can shape your feelings can shape your actions.  Thinking is powerful stuff whether you’re shaping your moment, or shaping your lifetime.

The real beauty is that thinking is a skill and you can develop throughout your lifetime.  To build our thinking skills, we can draw from the wisdom of the ages and modern sages.

And quotes are one of the best ways to do that.  Whether it’s positive thinking quotes, or critical thinking quotes, there are so many words of wisdom and sayings that make us think.  Perhaps one of the most powerful thoughts on thinking is this …

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Unknown

Now, let’s turn wisdom into action and fill your quiver with arrows of action, and fill your mental toolbox with a garden of insight in the form of pithy prose, one-liner reminders, and quotable quotes.

To make the most of these thinking quotes, see if you can find three thinking quotes that you can use in some way or at least make you think.   There are no right answers here, only growth and greatness.  Here’s to your excellence.

Thinking Quotes

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If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking. Benjamin Franklin

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You were born with the greatest weapon in all of nature — the rational, conscious mind. Robert Greene

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To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. Voltaire

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Right thinking comes with self-knowledge. Without understanding yourself, you have no basis for thought. Jiddu Krishnamurti

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There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees. Michel de Montaigne (Essais)

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Think for yourself, not of yourself. Think of others, not for others. Naval Ravikant

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I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. Warren Buffett

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We waste our time with short term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades. Naval Ravikant

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We like it when other people agree with us, which is why we rarely say what we are thinking. Shane Parrish

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An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. Jef Mallett

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Writing is not the most important thing; thinking is. But writing is probably the best way to improve your thinking. Matt Mullenweg

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Every deep thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. Friedrich Nietzsche

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Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy

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If you can think and speak and write, you are absolutely deadly, nothing can get in your way. Jordan Peterson

The Best Thinking Quotes

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The best thinking is rethinking. Shane Parrish

As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it. Lao Tzu

The person who consistently makes you think, is the most undervalued person in your life. Shane Parrish

Thinking is the ability to strip away what doesn’t matter from a situation so you can see what does matter. Shane Parrish

Anxiety is thought without control. Flow is control without thought. James Clear

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein

Spend at least one hour a day thinking. Just thinking, alone, in silence. No music. No book. No one. Your mind gets clearer. Your relationships get healthier. Your life gets better. @orangebook_

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

New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not common. John Locke

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If you overthink you become stressed and confused. If you think too little they will think for you. Maxime Lagacé

Few men think, yet all will have opinions. Hence men’s opinions are superficial and confused. John Locke

I think (too much), therefore I am (not there to live my life). Thich Nhat Hanh

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so. Bertrand Russell

As a rule, you must always reserve the right to laugh the next day at your thoughts of the previous night. Napoleon Bonaparte

Regular minds find similarities in stories (and situations); finer minds detect differences. Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Bed of Procrustes, Amazon book)

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. A second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. A first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. A.A. Milne

We only labor to stuff the memory, and leave the conscience and the understanding unfurnished and void. Michel de Montaigne

Thinking too little about things or thinking too much both make us obstinate and fanatical. Blaise Pascal

One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans – anything except reason. Thomas Sowell

Don’t just follow people because you agree with what they think. Follow them because you’re intrigued by how they think – and how they make you think. Adam Grant

The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees. Erwin Schrödinger

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. David Foster Wallace

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

Good that you ask – you should always ask, always have doubts. Hermann Hesse

The Most Famous Thinking Quotes (Einstein, Gandhi, Buddha, etc.)

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I think, therefore I am. René Descartes

To know what people really think, observe what they do, not what they say. René Descartes

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. Coco Chanel

Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought. Albert Einstein

We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. Albert Einstein

People don’t like to think, if one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant. Helen Keller

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too. Voltaire

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in. Napoleon Bonaparte

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Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. Henry Ford

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. Friedrich Nietzsche

I still live, I still think: I still have to live, for I still have to think. Friedrich Nietzsche

Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well. Mahatma Gandhi

Knowledge is real knowledge only when it is acquired by the efforts of your intellect, not by memory. Henry David Thoreau

Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think. Thomas A. Edison

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. Steve Jobs

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We more readily confess to errors, mistakes and shortcomings in our conduct than in our thought. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hold your council before dinner; the full belly hates thinking as well as acting. Benjamin Franklin

I don’t care what people think, because people don’t think. Kanye West

What we think, we become. Buddha

Short Thinking Quotes

One-liners, short thinking quotes, sayings, thoughts and captions for your bio, social status, self-talk, motto, mantra, signs, posters, wallpapers, backgrounds.
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Schedule time to think. Shane Parrish

Rewriting is rethinking. David Perell

Learn to enjoy silence. Maxime Lagacé

Learn to enjoy not thinking. @orangebook_

Writing well is thinking well. David Perell

Don’t outsource your thinking. Angela Jiang

Overthinking, AKA underacting. Jack Butcher

The less men think, the more they talk. Montesquieu

Much learning does not produce thought. Heraclitus

The best way to minimize risk is to think. Shane Parrish

Build your own judgment, don’t rely on anyone. @AmuseChimp

Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself. Plato

For the busy mind it is painful to stop and think. Shane Parrish

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Wise? No, I simply learned to think. Christopher Paolini

For the calm mind it is pleasant to stop and write. Maxime Lagacé

Idiots ‘think’ alike, intelligent people different. @AmuseChimp

Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge. Carl Jung

A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational. Thomas Aquinas

The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking. Shane Parrish

My position on most things is this: I could be wrong, but I think I’m right. Jack Peach

Just think. Just be quiet and think. It’d make all the difference in the world. Fred Rogers

Inspirational And Positive Thinking Quotes

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You can achieve anything you want if you just change the way you think. Will you? Maxime Lagacé

Genius is finding the invisible link between things. Vladimir Nabokov

We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas. Noam Chomsky

Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out. Criss Jami

It’s the most powerful weapon you can possibly provide someone with. Jordan Peterson (On thinking and writing)

Think not so much of what you lack as of what you have: but of the things that you have, select the best, and then reflect how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them. Marcus Aurelius

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all. Friedrich Nietzsche

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You must learn to master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. Marianne Williamson

Deep understanding requires deep thinking which requires focused time alone, away from the chatter of people online and offline. It requires staying with a single thought for a long time, focusing on it and developing it. In solitude is the genesis of great ideas. @TheAncientSage

What you think constantly becomes your reality. The seed of thought is converted into action and eventually becomes the tree of your being. @TheAncientSage

It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. William Deresiewicz

A truth, an insight, which you have slowly and laboriously puzzled out by thinking for yourself could easily have been found already written in a book; but it is a hundred times more valuable if you have arrived at it by thinking for yourself. Arthur Schopenhauer

One great idea had walking down the beach can be worth more than a lifetime of hard work. Gary Halbert

The obedient student will memorize and forget. The interested seeker will explore and remember. @TheStoicEmperor

If you want to get smart, the question you have to keep asking is why, why, why, why? Charlie Munger

Funny Thinking Quotes

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Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again? Winnie the Pooh

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! Dr. Seuss

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. Terry Pratchett

I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it. Terry Pratchett

There is nothing wrong with standing back and thinking. To paraphrase several sages: “Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time”. Susan Sontag

Evidence shows that we do much less thinking than we believe we do — except, of course, when we think about it. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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You’ll have better thoughts staring at a wall than watching 24-hour news. Michael (@mmay3r)

Stop looking for angels, and start looking for angles. Ryan Holiday

Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory it too good. Friedrich Nietzsche

Our heads are round so thought can change direction. Allen Ginsberg

Deep Thinking Quotes

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To dare a thought is to risk being wrong. James Dale Davidson (The Sovereign Individual, Amazon book)

The people who don’t think are the ones who never listen. Haruki Murakami

Our judgment is amongst the most subtle things that power corrupts. Naval Ravikant

Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think. Robert Greene

Your hard work and focus will give you speed. Your thoughts and judgments will give you direction. Maxime Lagacé

Your mind is working at its best when you’re being paranoid. You explore every avenue and possibility of your situation at high speed with total clarity. Banksy

Perhaps the logical conclusion of everyone looking the same is everyone thinking the same. Scott Westerfeld

If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you. Harlan Ellison

The challenge of our time is relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible. Thibaut

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The thinker needs no one to refute him, for that he has himself. Friedrich Nietzsche

The beauty of our system is that it isolates everybody. Each person is sitting alone in front of the tube, you know. It’s very hard to have ideas or thoughts under those circumstances. You can’t fight the world alone. Noam Chomsky

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume. Noam Chomsky

You get nothing done because you prioritize thinking over doing, and you think you’re the smart one for your ability to think. Alexander J.A Cortes

In much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly. Kahlil Gibran

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think. Horace Walpole

Madness is the result not of uncertainty but of certainty. Friedrich Nietzsche

Wise Thinking Quotes

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Stop thinking, and end your problems. Lao Tzu

The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Lao Tzu

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. Lao Tzu

Nothing in life matters quite as much as you think it does while you are thinking about it. Daniel Kahneman

Your thoughts shape the world you see. The world you see shapes the experiences you have. Your experiences shape your thoughts. Shane Parrish

No decision is sometimes the best path. If you can’t get comfortable deciding, the answer is to explore the tension not force a decision. Shane Parrish

Amateurs go with the first idea that comes into their head. Professionals realize the first idea is rarely the best idea. Shane Parrish

Think through time – what do the consequences look like in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 Years? Shane Parrish

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The student reflects rarely and unconsciously. The smart reflects daily and consciously. The master let it go. Maxime Lagacé

Seek clearer thinking, not faster thinking. You acquire faster thinking on the way. @orangebook_

Just because you’ve been doing something a certain way doesn’t mean you have to continue to. Don’t let momentum make your decisions for you. Justin Kan

Quotes About Clear Thinking, Right Thinking

Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence. Thomas Szasz

Fear overrides all rational thinking. Greg Secker

The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks. Mortimer J. Adler

Pen, ink and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking. John Adams

The more tired you are, the more susceptible you become to short-term thinking. Brian Norgard

It becomes clear when you love silence, boredom and hard work. For the wise it’s play. For the ordinary it’s hell. Maxime Lagacé

How can you, in the midst of this noise, haste and false pursuits remain sensitive for the cultivation of right thinking? Jiddu Krishnamurti

Consistently successful people have the ability to separate what matters from what doesn’t and see what everyone else is overlooking. This skill is earned by doing the thinking, not buying the thinking. Shane Parrish

We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side. Charlie Munger

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. Friedrich Nietzsche (The Dawn)

An honest thinker will highlight and confront the most intimidating counterargument. A dishonest thinker will seek out the most ludicrous counterargument and pretend it is the only counterargument. @TheStoicEmperor

I suspect that they put Socrates to death because there is something terribly unattractive, alienating, and nonhuman in thinking with too much clarity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Bed of Procrustes)

High modernity: routine in place of physical effort, physical effort in place of mental expenditure, and mental expenditure in place of mental clarity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Bed of Procrustes)

Realizing the gaps in your knowledge is more important than realizing the depths of your knowledge. Kunal (@CrazyPolymath)

You must develop the discipline to think right. This will give you the discipline to act right. Iyanla Vanzant

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t. Jordan Peterson

Quotes About Critical Thinking, Deep Thinking, Decision-Making

Think hard, dig deep, do not take appearances for reality. Robert Greene

The two biggest obstacles to good decision-making are haste and anger. Diodotus

Those who cannot understand how to put their thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of debate. Friedrich Nietzsche

Both books and advice are overrated compared to thinking really hard about a problem. Thibaut

Take a moment before defending yourself and consider all the ways in which the other person may be right. Neil Strauss

A clear mind is both confident and curious, calm and loving, courageous and humble. Maxime Lagacé

I think when you multitask so much, you don’t have time to think about anything deeply. You’re giving the world an advantage you shouldn’t do. Charlie Munger

Don’t listen to people because you agree with their answers. Listen because you respect the intellectual integrity they bring to their questions. You learn more from people who challenge your thought process than from those who affirm your conclusions. Adam Grant

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott Fitzgerald

The sheer volume of options and the little time you spend on strategic thinking make it very likely that you‘re incurring massive opportunity costs. I hope that motivates you to stop and think. Johnny Uzan

The most powerful form of hard work is thinking clearly. James Clear

Best training ever for rigor and critical reasoning is…trading. You can only survive long term by going against wrong consensus by “experts”. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence. Thomas Sowell

No skill is more valuable than the ability to critically think through problems. And schools don’t teach you a method of thinking, you have to do the work yourself. Those who do it well get an advantage and those that do it poorly pay. George Raveling

Too often decisions are made based on what is quantifiable rather than what’s important. Shane Parrish

You can’t make a good decision if you don’t ask the right questions. Shane Parrish

Quotes About Thinking Independently (Or Not), Thinking For Yourself

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. Jordan Peterson

You need all kinds of influences, including negative ones, to challenge what you believe in. Bill Murray

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. John Dewey

I like to think of criticism as the highest intellectual effort that mankind is capable of, and above all, I like to think of self-criticism as the most difficult attainment of an educated man. Lin Yutang

Think! Think clearly. Think for yourself. Think your own thoughts. Think consciously, actively, critically and with diligent sagacity. Give up the dysfunctional mental habits of believing and judging. Believe nothing; question everything. Thibaut

Independent thinking is not possible as long as there is an authority – any authority – you look up to. Unless you know something first hand you know nothing. Borrowed knowledge, cannot compensate for the lack of personal insight and experience. @TheAncientSage

Success and failure are societal constructs. It’s how society controls you: by making you play according to its rules. The rules are incorporated through imitation of others as no one seems to question them. Few think independently and even fewer dare to go against majority. @TheAncientSage

Schools should teach us how to think, instead they fill our heads with irrelevant knowledge. Health care should teach us how to eat for optimal health, instead it fills our bodies with dubious chemicals. This is what happens when you abdicate self-responsibility to others. @TheAncientSage

Everyone pretends to be ‘free thinkers’, but few individuals pass the line into expressive territories that may be detrimental to their own social well-being. Criss Jami (Killosophy)

The greatest thinkers in history certainly knew the value of shifting the mind into low gear. Charles Darwin described himself as a slow thinker. Einstein was famous for spending ages staring into space in his office at Princeton University. Carl Honoré (In Praise Of Slow, Amazon book)

There are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself? Arthur Schopenhauer

It has become fashionable to collect ideas and equate this to thinking. It is not. While other ideas may spur your own, it is the act of thinking for yourself that matters. Angela Jiang

A man’s greatest asset is his ability to think for himself. @LifeMathMoney

Intelligence is dangerous. Intelligence means you will start thinking on your own; you will start looking around on your own. You will not believe in the scriptures; you will believe only in your own experience. Osho

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Leo Tolstoy

Free-thinking people must have the courage to act on their independent thought. Otherwise, they may as well be sheep. Ed Latimore

Sit in silence and reflect. Learn how to think without being told what to think. Ed Latimore

Free-thinking generates as much admiration as it does animosity. Ed Latimore

Think for yourself. Some people see warnings signs when they are alone. I see warning signs in a crowd. Maxime Lagacé

Quotes About Overthinking, Sadness, Misery

Being scared is caused mostly by thinking. David Foster Wallace

Misery is almost always the result of thinking. Joseph Joubert

Don’t suffer imagined troubles. Ryan Holiday

Be careful what you put in. Those are seeds. Don’t water them. Those will grow. Clean your garden once in a while and go for a walk. Maxime Lagacé

One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane. Nikola Tesla

You don’t have to torture your consciousness with endless thinking. Jack Kerouac (Big Sur)

The most dangerous thing about an academic education is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract thinking instead of simply paying attention to what’s going on in front of me. David Foster Wallace (This Is Water)

If you happen to be sitting, just sit. If you are smoking a pipe, just smoke it. If you are thinking out a problem, just think. But don’t think and reflect unnecessarily, compulsively, from sheer force of nervous habit. In Zen, they call this having a leaky mind. Alan Watts

Intellectualization creates a gap or lack of rapport between you and your life. You may think about things so much that you get into the state where you are eating the menu instead of the dinner. Alan Watts

We’re sitting under the tree of our thinking minds, wondering why we’re not getting any sunshine! Ram Dass

Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed. Leo Tolstoy

Pointless thinking is worse than no thinking at all. Haruki Murakami (Kafka On The Shore)

Thinking Quotes About Emotions, Rationality, Judgment

Feelings are invulnerable to rational thought. Stephen King

We like to emit logical and rational ideas but we do not enjoy this execution. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think. Antonio Damasio

Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality. Bertrand Russell

I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking. Albert Einstein

Thinking clearly and rationaly will bring you satisfaction. Listening to your heart will give you peace. Maxime Lagacé

In everything one thing is impossible: rationality. Friedrich Nietzsche

There is such a thing as being too rational. A certain level of delusion is necessary in order to succeed. Preethi Kasireddy

We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. Alan Watts

You know you’re good at something when you switch from making decisions with your conscious mind to making decisions with your instincts. Naval Ravikant

The thing that prevents you from seeing what’s actually happening are your emotions; our emotions are constantly clouding our judgment. Naval Ravikant

In an age of infinite leverage, judgment is the most important skill. Naval Ravikant

Age does not confer wisdom. Never blindly listen to the advice of ‘elders’. Trust your instincts. Train your intuition. Consciously build discernment. Fateh Singh

Emotion and instinct were the basis of all our decisions, our actions, everything we valued, the way we saw the world. Reason and rationality were a thin coat of paint on a ragged surface. Karen Joy Fowler

The rate at which you learn and progress in the world depends on how willing you are to weigh the merit of new ideas, even if you don’t instinctively like them. Perhaps especially if you don’t like them. Shane Parrish

The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. Marcus Aurelius

Progress of the human society is predicated upon the proper functioning of a key element of the human mind, that is reasoning. Abhijit Naskar

Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert. It is sometimes better, then, to use enemies as enemies rather than transforming them into friends or allies. Robert Greene

Do not fall into groupthink – the irrationality of collective decision-making. Robert Greene

One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too. Friedrich Nietzsche


Thinking is by far the most underrated activity. People consider it “unproductive” to sit on a bench and think. So they spend their lives doing things they never thought through. An hour of clear thinking can yield a conclusion that changes your life. Johnny Uzan

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