33 inspiring life lessons from Helen Keller 1

Helen Keller is one of the most extraordinary people who ever lived. Despite being blind and deaf, she became a famous author, activist, and humanitarian, relentlessly devoted to helping others and speaking out for the disenfranchised. She was also the fist blind/deaf person to graduate from college. And she’s achingly poetic. Her words drip like nectar into the sore spots of the heart.

As I mentioned the other day in my “10 ways to hate yourself a little less” post, reading the words of others has been a tremendous help to me on my darkest days. (And I have had some dark days.) Here are some of my favorite life lessons from her, many of them from her autobiography, The Story of My Life.


On the best and most beautiful things

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”


On self-pity

“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.”


On the importance of friendship

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”


On opportunity

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”


On pessimism

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”


On meekness

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”


On limitations

“Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.”


On suffering

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”


On living

quote helen keller

On security

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.”


On optimism

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”


On perseverance

“I know I shall not fail.”


On character

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”


On graduating college

“If they unintentionally placed obstacles in my way, I have the consolation of knowing that I overcame them all.”


On shortcuts

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”


On blindness vs deafness

“Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.”


On looking

“Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.”


On the pleadings of the heart

“A potent force within me, stronger than the persuasion of my friends, stronger even than the pleadings of my heart, had impelled me to try my strength by the standards of those who see and hear.”


On vision

“The most pathetic person in the world is some one who has sight but no vision.”


On books

“Before me I saw a new world opening in beauty and light, and I felt within me the capacity of know all things. In the wonderland of Mind I should be as free as another.”


On struggle

“Every struggle is a victory.”


On answers

“What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.”


On conclusions

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


On contentedness

“Is it not true that my life with all its limitations touches at many points the life of the World Beautiful? Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”


On paying it forward

“I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others’ ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.”


“So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”


On Utopia

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.”


On tomorrow

“Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.”


On true happiness

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”


On effort


“Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

On four things

“Four things to learn in life: To think clearly without hurry or confusion; To love everybody sincerely; To act in everything with the highest motives; To trust God unhesitatingly.”


On loss

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”


On great and noble tasks

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”


On making the turn

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”

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