top of page

The History of Positive Thinking in 60 Quotes

Updated: Apr 29

Stack of old books with blog title

A positive thinking message written in Shakespeare’s language is a reminder that this positive thinking idea is not new by any means and anyone who has ever been successful in life has had a few things to say on the subject.

In fact, we can go back way before Shakespeare who was born back in 1564, there are plenty of writings from the likes of Socrates 470-399BCE, Aristotle 384-322 BCE, Aesop 620-564BCE and many, many others.

If there is nothing in it and it’s all a load of baloney like many would have you believe than how come the same message is being said by the most successful, influential people that have ever walked this earth?

There are those that claim that Positive Thinking is too simplistic and if were true that it can change your life then everybody would be doing it. And that being kind shows how weak you are.

It’s true that it’s simple concept, but it’s not necessarily easy to change your mind from a negative one to a positive one and that’s why not many people do it, it’s too hard. It takes time, effort, energy and an unfailing belief that you deserve better.

Remember that Henry Ford once said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason few people engage in it.”

Below are some quotes from people who understood the power of positive thinking.

Quill and ink in front of old book with quote below added

Frame your mind to mirth and merriment which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life. - William Shakespeare

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we leaned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so let us all be thankful." – Gautama Buddha - 6-4 century BCE

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." - Gautama Buddha - 6-4 century BCE

'The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness however small is ever wasted.' - Aesop 620 - 564BCE

Quill and ink with quote below added

'At the centre of your being you have the answer, you know who you are and you know what you want.' - Lao Tzu 571 -531BCE

'Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.' - Confucius 551 - 479BCE

'The more man meditates upon good thoughts the better will be his world and the world at large.' - Confucius 551 - 479BCE

'Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.' - Heraclitus 535 – 475 BCE

Stoic statue with quote below added

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people. – Socrates 470 - 399BCE

‘The energy of the mind is the essence of life.’ – Aristotle 384 - 322 BCE

'Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans: It’s lovely to be silly at the right moment.' – Horace 65 – 8 BCE

'There’s is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.’- Epictetus 50 – 135 CE

'You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.' - Marcus Aurelius 121 – 180 CE

'A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.' – St Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226

'By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.' - Christopher Columbus 1451 – 1506

'It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.' - Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519

ink bottle and quill with quote below added

'Frame your mind to mirth and merriment which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.' - William Shakespeare 1565 – 1616

'I can no other answer make, but. Thanks. And thanks. And ever thanks.' - William Shakespeare 1565 – 1616

'Trouble knocked at your door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.' - Benjamin Franklin 1706 - 1790

'A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well and the body.' - Benjamin Franklin 1706 - 1790

'Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have the strength.' - Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821

'To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.' – Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882

'Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.' – Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882

'Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.' – Benjamin Disraeli – 1804 – 1881

'Reflect upon your present blessings... of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.' – Charles Dickens 1812 -1870

'Life appears too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.' – Charlotte Bronte 1816 – 1855

'If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.' - Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862

'Think of yourself on the threshold of success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you.' – Andrew Carnegie – 1835 – 1919

'Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.' - Mark Twain 1835 – 1910

'If you think you can or think you can’t either way you are right.' – Henry Ford 1863 – 1947

'If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.' – Mahatma Gandhi 1869 - 1948

'Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.' - Carl Jung 1875 – 1961

'Out of clutter, find simplicity, from discord, find harmony. In the middle if difficulty lies opportunity.' – Albert Einstein – 1879 - 1955

'Stay away from negative people – They have a problem for every solution.' – Albert Einstein – 1879 – 1955

'Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.' - Coco Chanel 1883 – 1971

'A positive mind looks for ways it can be done; a negative mind looks for ways it can't be done.' - Napoleon Hill 1883 - 1970

'You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.' - Eleanor Roosevelt 1884- 1962

'Any fool can criticise, complain and condemn – and most fools do. But it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.' – Dale Carnegie 1888 – 1955

woman looking to her right with quote below added

'It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.' – Dale Carnegie 1888 – 1955

'You have to believe in yourself - that’s the secret.' – Charlie Chaplin 1889 – 1977

'The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.' – Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963

'Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars - you have to let go and come point in order to move forward.' – C. S. Lewis 1898 – 1963

'Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.' - Norman Vincent Peale 1898 – 1993

'A positive thinker does not refuse to recognise the negative, he refuses to dwell on it. Positive thinking is a form of thought which habitually looks for the best results from the worst conditions.' - Norman Vincent Peale 1898 – 1993

'Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.' - Mother Teresa 1910 - 1997

'As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.' - John F. Kennedy 1917 – 1963

'They say time changes everything, but you actually have to change them yourself.' – Andy Warhol 1928 – 1987

Lightbulb background with quote below added

'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' - Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968

'Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is.' – Anne Frank – 1929 – 1945

'Anyone who ever accomplished anything did not know how they were going to do it; they just knew they were going to do it.' – Bob Proctor 1934 –

'Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.' – The 14th Dalai Lama 1935 –

'Choose the positive. You have a choice. You are the master of your attitude. Chose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.' – Bruce Lee 1940 -1973

'We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create.' – John Lennon 1940 – 1980

'A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.' – Bob Dylan – 1941 –

'Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.' – Jim Morrison 1943 - 1971

'Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.' - Barack Obama 1961 –

'Belonging starts with self-acceptance... Believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.' - Brene Brown 1965 –

'If you're not in the arena also getting your butt kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback.' - Brene Brown 1965 –

'Not all your dreams have to come true at once. Sometimes, the truth is many of them are already here and you have to appreciate them before the next ones unlock.' – Brendon Burchard 1977 –

'Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self and start acting like that person today.' – Brendon Burchard 1977 –

'I have insecurities of course, but I don't hang out with anyone who points them out.' – Adele 1988 –

to be honest I thought this was going to be one of the easiest and quickest blogs I have written…

A few examples of Positive Thinking quotes throughout the ages, that will be easy enough...

Not as quick and easy as I thought, so many great and wise people to choose from, so far too many inspiring, thought provoking quotes to choose from!

Needless to say, this is not a definitive list of quotes or people to quote from by any means. Just a selection chosen by me to demonstrate just how long this philosophy has been around and some of the people that have put it to good use. I hope you have enjoyed it, and that you too can put positive thinking in to action in your own life.

If you liked this and want more here are 95 positive thinking quotes.

Find out the big difference between Positive Thinking & Wishful Thinking

Did you know that Harry Potter is also a positive thinker? read my blog Harry Potter and the Positive Thinker part 1 and Part 2

Lisa Edwards Meditating by the ocean with signature

Drop in to my Etsy store Positive Life by Design for great printables to help you on your journey.

Don't forget to follow us on

Pinterest PT4Beginners


bottom of page