Live in the present. The past is gone; the future is unknown — but the present is real, and your opportunities are now. You must see these opportunities; they must be real for you. The catch is that they can’t seem real if your mind is buried in past failures, if you keep reliving old mistakes, old guilts, old tragedies. Fight your way above the many inevitable Traumatizations of your ego, escape damnation by the past, and look to the opportunities of the present. I don’t mean some vague moment in the present — next week or next month, perhaps. I mean today, this minute.
—Maxwell Maltz (1899–1975) American Surgeon, Motivational Writer
Duty and today are ours, results and futurity belong to God.
—Horace Greeley (1811–72) American Elected Rep, Politician, Reformer, Editor
Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other — it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future are not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.
—Charles Caleb Colton (c.1780–1832) English Clergyman, Aphorist
Right now a moment is fleeting by! Capture its reality in paint! To do that we must put all else out of our minds. We must become that moment, make ourselves a sensitive recording plate. Give the image of what we actually see, forgetting everything that has been seen before our time.
—Paul Cezanne (1839–1906) French Painter
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
—Abbie Hoffman (1936–89) American Political Activist, Anarchist
We cannot overstate our debt to the past, but the moment has the supreme claim.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity.
—Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) Russian-born American Composer, Musician
We live in the present, we dream of the future, but we learn eternal truths from the past.
—Soong Mei-ling (1898–2003) First Lady of the Republic of China
One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
When we come into the present, we begin to feel the life around us again, but we also encounter whatever we have been avoiding. We must have the courage to face whatever is present — our pain, our desires, our grief, our loss, our secret hopes our love — everything that moves us most deeply.
—Jack Kornfield (b.1945) American Buddhist Teacher
To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.
—Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) American Christian Science Religious Leader, Humanitarian, Writer
Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish Novelist
I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.
—Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) American Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.
—Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) American Architect
Do today’s duty, fight today’s temptation; do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.
—Charles Kingsley (1819–75) English Clergyman, Academic, Historian, Novelist
Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry. Work while it is called today, for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow. One today is worth two tomorrows; never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.
—James Baldwin (1924–87) American Novelist, Social Critic
Let us enjoy the fugitive hour. Man has no harbor, time has no shore, it rushes on and carries us with it.
—Alphonse de Lamartine (1790–1869) French Poet, Politician, Historian
We shall be better prepared for the future if we see how terrible, how doomed the present is.
—Iris Murdoch (1919–99) British Novelist, Playwright, Philosopher
Labour not after riches first, and think thou afterwards wilt enjoy them. He who neglecteth the present moment, throweth away all that he hath. As the arrow passeth through the heart, while the warrior knew not that it was coming; so shall his life be taken away before he knoweth that he hath it.
—Akhenaten (1378BCE–1348BCE) Egyptian Monarch, Religious Leader
The future is purchased by the present.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.
—Wayne Dyer (b.1940) American Motivational Writer, Author, Motivational Speaker
Today is yesterday’s pupil.
Our grand business undoubtedly is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist