How can I find more meaning in my life? 
How can I have a greater impact on the world?
How can I be happier?

In this article we've collected our favorite quotes and stories to attempt to answer those questions. These aren't bumper sticker quotes that sparkle and then wear off after a few days. These are banks of wisdom that endure over decades precisely because they are applicable to friendships, relationships, career choices, and many other pieces that determine the quality of our lives. These are quotes that apply every day for a lifetime. 

Every quote is linked to more information about the corresponding book. Given the feud between Amazon and Stephen Colbert/other writers, we changed the usual Amazon linking habit and instead directed them to Powell's Books of Portland's website. 

For a better life, Hug the Rhino.

1. How can I find more meaning in my life?


“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things that they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

"I am only so beautiful as the character of my relationships, only so rich as I enrich those around me, only so alive as I enliven those I greet  ... We are inseparable from all other beings in the universe”

Derrick Jensen - A Language Older than Words


"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."

Oriah Mountain Dreamer - The Invitation

"There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists."

Derrick Jensen - A Language Older than Words

2. How can I have a greater impact on the world?


“The typical cage for egg-laying hens allows each sixty-seven square inches of floor space — somewhere between the size of this page and a sheet of printer paper. Such cages are stacked between three and nine tiers high … in windowless sheds.

Step your mind into a crowded elevator, an elevator so crowded you cannot turn around without bumping into (and aggravating) your neighbor. The elevator is so crowded you are often held aloft.

This is a kind of blessing, as the slanted floor is made of wire, which cuts into your feet.

After some time, those in the elevator will lose their ability to work in the interest of the group. Some will become violent; others will go mad. A few, deprived of food and hope, will become cannibalistic.

There is no respite, no relief. No elevator repairman is coming. The doors will open once, at the end of your life, for your journey to the only place worse (see: processing ).”

Jonathan Safran Foer -  Eating Animals

"She shook my hand, loosely, like Indians do, using only her fingers. Not like those tight grips the white people use to prove something. She touched my hand like she was glad to see me, not like she wanted to break bones."

Sherman Alexei - The Lone Ranger and Tanto Fistfight in Heaven


“Chuang-tse was sitting on the banks of the P'ue river when he was approached by two representatives of the Prince of Ch'u. They offered him a position at court. Chuang-tse looked at the water, ignoring the question. Finally he spoke, “I am told that the Prince has a sacred tortoise, over two thousand years old, which is kept in a box, wrapped in silk and brocade.” “ That is true,” the officials replied.” Chuang-tse continued: “If the tortoise had been given a choice, which do you think he would have liked better – to have been alive in the mud, or dead in the palace?” “To have been alive in the mud, of course,” the men answered. “I too prefer the mud” said Chuang-tse. “Good-bye”.

Benjamin Hoff - The Tao of Pooh

An Inuit elder ... “The family took away all of his weapons and all his tools, hoping that would force him into the settlement. Did it? No. In the middle of an Arctic night with a blizzard blowing, the old man slipped out of the igloo into the darkness and simply pulled down his caribou hide and sealskin trousers and defecated into his hand. As the shit took shape he put a spray of saliva along one leading edge to create a sharp edge. When the implement was finally created from the cold, he used it to kill a dog. He skinned the dog and used the skin of the dog to improvise a harness and used the rib cage of the dead dog to improvise the sled, harnessed an adjacent dog, and then with shit-knife in belt disappeared over the ice flow.' The elder returned alive and well in the spring. Forty years later, the Canadian government relented and returned the Inuit lands, creating Nunavut, a territory the size of Western Europe."

 - Paul HawkenBlessed Unrest

Crazy Horse - "Even the most basic outline of his life shows how great he was, because he remained himself from the moment of his birth to the moment he died; because he knew exactly where he wanted to live, and never left; because he may have surrendered, but he was never defeated in battle; because, although he was killed, even the Army admitted he was never captured; because he was so free that he didn't know what a jail looked like. His dislike of the oncoming civilization was prophetic. He never met the President, never rode on a train, slept in a boarding house, or ate at a table and unlike many people all over the world, when he met white men he was not diminished by the encounter."

— Ian Frazier, Great Plains

“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, "Business as usual." But they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.”

“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.” 

Yann Martel - Life of Pi

3. How can I be happier?


“To the Taoist, Nothing is something, and something – at least the sort of things that many consider to be important – is really nothing at all." 

"The surest way to become tense, awkward, and confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much. The animals in the forest don’t think too much, they just are. To misquote an old philosopher, “I think, therefore I am confused.”

Benjamin Hoff - The Tao of Pooh

"More is good, more is good. We repeat it and have it repeated until nobody thinks otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all of this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore. These people are so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. Neither money nor power will give you the feeling you are looking for, no matter how much of it that you have."

Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie


“I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you are with. When I’m talking to you now, Mitch, I try to keep focused only on what is going on between us. I’m not thinking about something we said last week. I’m not thinking about what is coming up next Friday.”

Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

"To be truly charming and socially effective you have to understand people, and to understand people you have to get outside yourself and immerse your mind in their world."

"The ability to connect deeply to your environment is the most primal and in many ways the most powerful form of mastery the brain can bring us." 

Robert Greene, Mastery

"Step away from the isolation. There is a whole world waiting for us, ready to welcome us home. It has missed us sorely and we have missed it. And it is time to return.”

Derrick Jensen - A Language Older than Words

"You think this is just another day in your life – it’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well."

Louie Schwartzberg - Gratitude (Meant to be watched)

Now take these ideas, these phrases and stories, these kernels of wisdom and give them meaning. Apply them to your life, share them with others, and think of them often. It's an investment in yourself and your life with a guaranteed positive return. 

Hug The Rhino Team
edited by:Kurt Berning

If you'd like to read more but are limited on time, we recommend “Tuesdays With Morrie”by Mitch Albom and “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. Both are short, fantastic reads

For a better life, Hug The Rhino