Just because you’re a horrible human being it doesn’t mean that you don’t have something insightful to say. In fact, several of history’s worst people have said some truly inspiring things. Here are some that we’ve found especially perceptive.
“Words build bridges into unexplored regions.”
If you’re finding yourself stuck on something — whether it’s an idea, a place, a conversation, or anything else — it’s helpful to remember that oftentimes, the best way to expand your mind and branch out is with words. Words can take you to places you’ve never been, build bridges with friends, and plenty more.
Then again, in the context of Adolf Hitler, those words were used for much more malicious and horrifying things. Although, when it comes to quotes, we tend to have a hard time distinguishing between Hitler and Taylor Swift.
“He who stops being better stops being good.”
It’s pretty easy to fall victim to “good enough” when you’re learning a new skill or working toward a goal, but as Oliver Cromwell reminds us, we all need to strive to be better as often as possible.
Of course, the problem here is that Oliver Cromwell’s version of “better” probably means something along the lines of being better at regicide, taking 50 thousand Irish Catholics as slaves, or being accused of being a military dictator by Winston Churchill. Cromwell was so despised by some that he was posthumously executed.
“It takes less courage to criticise the decisions of others than to stand by your own.”
-Attila the Hun
Decision-making is a tough enough endeavour as it is, but when we stand idly by and criticise others we often forget that we should stand behind our own.
Attributed to Attila the Hun by author Wess Roberts in his book, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, this quote stands out mostly because Attila the Hun was so steadfast in his conquering of Europe, his leadership that resulted in the slaughter of thousands by his barbarian hordes, and his general resolution in the plundering of western Europe.
“Impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.”
Nobody likes to utter the words, “that’s impossible”, but sometimes it truly feels like it is. When those moments hit you, it’s worth remembering Napoleon Bonaparte’s words. You just need to suck it up, take on those challenges, and get the job done.
“The real strong have no need to prove it to the phonies.”
Sometimes, it’s hard enough just to be yourself, but when people question you, life gets even tougher. As serial brainwasher Charles Manson so helpfully reminds us, the strongest among us don’t need to prove their strength.
When you’re down and out, worried about making a good impression, or just scared you’ll offend someone by voicing up, remember Charles Manson’s words.
“I believe in one thing only, the power of human will.”
When you’re feeling a bit bummed out, it’s pretty easy to think you can’t accomplish those big life goals of yours. But many people throughout history have accomplished all that and more, and human will is truly a powerful thing.
For Joseph Stalin, that will was enough to give him a dictatorship over the Soviet Union, order the death of millions, and lead a revolution. Learning to code doesn’t sound so difficult now, does it?
“A man’s gotta make at least one bet a day, else he could be walking around lucky and never know it.”
A lot of us tend to be pretty risk averse, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean we miss out on a lot of things. It’s worth stepping outside of that box occasionally though, and according to cult leader/mass suicide pusher Jim Jones, that means making one solid bet a day.
Considering everything that Jones did, we’re not even going to speculate what bets he might have made.
“Countless millions who have walked this earth before us have gone through this, so this is just an experience we all share.”
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “why has this happened to me?” then you know you’re inevitably going to realise that few things are really just about you. For the most part, someone else out there has had a similar experience in a similar situation, and gaining that perspective is often the best way to find the strength to get through a rough day.
“Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”
If you feel like you’ve had the fight taken out of you today, then this quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini might cheer you up. Instead of sitting around waiting for your boss to kick you while you’re down, stand up and take on the day.
We all know Mussolini lived like a lion. In fact, he stood tall even after losing World War II when Italians eventually found him trying to escape Italy and executed him.
“Don’t drink at all, don’t smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit.”
OK, so it’s not exactly the most clever quote on this list, but it’s certainly the most concrete. If we’ve learned anything about the secret to good health over the years it’s that there is no real secret: eat your vegetables and exercise. Live as Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe prescribes, and you’ll lead a better life.
This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.