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Here’s a collection of inspirational graduation quotes to be used for yearbooks, graduation cards, Facebook, speeches, etc. The inspirational graduation quotes come from historic figures, writers, celebrities, noted scholars, elected official and more.
Best Inspirational Graduation Quotes
There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.
Spread joy. Chase your wildest dreams.
I learned law so well, the day I graduated I sued the college, won the case, and got my tuition back.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
Funny Graduation Quotes
Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.
If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.
Check out these inspiring, uplifting quotes.
Inspirational Graduation Quotes for Son
It takes most men five years to recover from a college education and to learn that poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge.
Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
In the game of life, when the final buzzer sounds, the only stat you carry with you is the number of assists you made. So help other people put some points on the board.
NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Words of Wisdom for Grads
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Check out: Congratulations Graduation Messages
Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.
The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.
The important thing is this: to be able to give up in any given moment all that we are for what we can become.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.
Susan B. Anthony
The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is just one life for each of us: our own.
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.
In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.
Motivational Sayings for Grads
Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
Arnold H. Glasow
If you feel that you have both feet planted on level ground, then the university has failed you.
And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.
Dr. Seuss – More Graduation Quotes from Dr. Seuss
You will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal. There really is only one, and that is this: To fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
Sydney J. Harris
The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small, but it will count for the greater good.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Yes, but do you have pictures? We sure do. Check out Graduation Images and Memes.
For the Graduate
The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.
The best of all things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen, health and strength may fail, but what you have committed to your mind is yours forever.
The trouble with learning from experience is that you never graduate.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
Daughter Inspirational Quotes Graduation
Of course, there’s a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don’t take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates.
A. Lawrence Lowell
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!
To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.
The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.
The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
Ralph W. Sockman
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
NOTE: Inspirational graduation quotes are frequently found in commencement addresses, but also in books and magazine features.
Jim Carrey Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management – May 24, 2014
Thank you Bevan, thank you all! I brought one of my paintings to show you today. Hope you guys are gonna be able to see it okay. It’s not one of my bigger pieces. You might wanna move down front — to get a good look at it.
Faculty, Parents, Friends, Dignitaries – Graduating Class of 2014, and all the dead baseball players coming out of the corn to be with us today. After the harvest there’s no place to hide — the fields are empty — there is no cover there!
I am here to plant a seed that will inspire you to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and a clear sense of wholeness. The question is, will that seed have a chance to take root, or will I be sued by Monsanto and forced to use their seed, which may not be totally “Ayurvedic.”
Excuse me if I seem a little low energy tonight – today – whatever this is. I slept with my head to the North last night. Oh, man! Oh, man! You know how that is, right kids? I woke up right in the middle of Pitta and couldn’t get back to sleep till Vata rolled around, but I didn’t freak out. I used that time to eat a large meal and connect with someone special on Tinder.
Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound, and that’s the important thing. That’s what I’m here to do. Sometimes, I think that’s one of the only things that are important. Just letting each other know we’re here, reminding each other that we are part of a larger self. I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was.
Just a flickering light,
A dancing shadow,
The great nothing masquerading as something you can name,
Dwelling in forts and castles made of witches – wishes! Sorry, a Freudian slip there,
Seeking shelter in caves and foxholes, dug out hastily,
An archer searching for his target in the mirror,
Wounded only by my own arrows,
Begging to be enslaved,
Pleading for my chains,
Blinded by longing and tripping over paradise – can I get an “Amen”?
You didn’t think I could be serious did ya’? I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with – I have no limits! I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man! You can’t contain the container!
I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation, and though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, it was after all a loaner and would have to be returned. Then, I learned that everything outside the vehicle was a part of me, too, and now I drive a convertible. Top-down wind in my hair!
I am elated and truly, truly, truly excited to be present and fully connected to you at this important moment in your journey. I hope you’re ready to open the roof and take it all in? Okay, four more years then!
I want to thank the Trustees, Administrators, and Faculty of MUM for creating an institution worthy of Maharishi’s ideals of education. A place that teaches the knowledge and experience necessary to be productive in life, as well as enabling the students, through Transcendental Meditation and ancient Vedic knowledge to slack off twice a day for an hour and a half!! Don’t think you’re fooling me! But, I guess it has some benefits. It does allow you to separate who you truly are and what’s real, from the stories that run through your head.
You have given them the ability to walk behind the mind’s elaborate set decoration and to see that there is a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that’s going to eat you. That may sound like no big deal, but many never learn that distinction and spend a great deal of their lives living in fight or flight response.
I’d like to acknowledge all you wonderful parents — way to go for the fantastic job you’ve done — for your tireless dedication, your love, your support, and most of all, for the attention you’ve paid to your children. I have a saying, “Beware the unloved,” because they will eventually hurt themselves… or me!
But when I look at this group here today, I feel really safe! I do! I’m just going to say it — my room is not locked! My room is not locked! No doubt some of you will turn out to be crooks! But white-collar stuff — Wall St. ya’ know, that type of thing — crimes committed by people with self-esteem! Stuff a parent can still be proud of in a weird way.
And to the graduating class of 2017 — minus 3! You didn’t let me finish! Congratulations! Yes, give yourselves a round of applause, please. You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness; a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities. On the other side of that door, there is a world starving for new leadership, new ideas.
I’ve been out there for 30 years! She’s a wild cat! Oh, she’ll rub up against your leg and purr until you pick her up and start pettin’ her, and out of nowhere, she’ll swat you in the face. Sure it’s rough sometimes but that’s OK, ‘cause they’ve got soft-serve ice cream with sprinkles! I guess that’s what I’m really here to say; sometimes it’s okay to eat your feelings!
Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.
So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it — please! And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. It’s party size!
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.
I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
That’s not the only thing he taught me though: I watched the effect my father’s love and humor had on the world around me, and I thought, “That’s something to do, that’s something worth my time.”
It wasn’t long before I started acting up. People would come over to my house and they would be greeted by a 7 yr old throwing himself down a large flight of stairs. They would say, “What happened?” And I would say, “I don’t know — let’s check the replay.” And I would go back to the top of the stairs and come back down in slow motion. It was a very strange household.
My father used to brag that I wasn’t a ham — I was the whole pig. And he treated my talent as if it was his second chance. When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, like my dad. When I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion, “The Church of Freedom From Concern” — “The Church of FFC”— and I dedicated myself to that ministry.
What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.
Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart. My choosing to free people from concern got me to the top of a mountain. Look where I am — look at what I get to do! Everywhere I go – and I’m going to get emotional because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me — I did something that makes people present their best selves to me wherever I go. I am at the top of the mountain and the only one I hadn’t freed was myself and that’s when my search for identity deepened.
I wondered who I’d be without my fame. Who would I be if I said things that people didn’t want to hear, or if I defied their expectations of me? What if I showed up to the party without my Mardi Gras mask and I refused to flash my breasts for a handful of beads? I’ll give you a moment to wipe that image out of your mind.
But you guys are way ahead of the game. You already know who you are and that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.
It’s not big enough! This painting is big for a reason. This painting is called “High Visibility.” It’s about picking up the light and daring to be seen. Here’s the tricky part.
Everyone is attracted to the light. The party host up in the corner (refers to painting) who thinks unconsciousness is bliss and is always offering a drink from the bottles that empty you; Misery, below her, who despises the light — can’t stand when you’re doing well — and wishes you nothing but the worst; The Queen of Diamonds who needs a King to build her house of cards; And the Hollow One, who clings to your leg and begs, “Please don’t leave me behind for I have abandoned myself.”
Even those who are closest to you and most in love with you; the people you love most in the world can find clarity confronting at times. This painting took me thousands of hours to complete and — thank you — yes, thousands of hours that I’ll never get back, I’ll never get them back — I worked on this for so long, for weeks and weeks, like a mad man alone on a scaffolding — and when I was finished one of my friends said, “This would be a cool blacklight painting.”
So I started over. Whooooo! Welcome to Burning Man! Some pretty crazy characters right? Better up there than in here. Painting is one of the ways I free myself from concern, a way to stop the world through total mental, spiritual and physical involvement.
But even with that, comes a feeling of divine dissatisfaction. Because ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through it. All else is just smoke and mirrors. Distracting, but not truly compelling.
I’ve often said that I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where you’ll find your sense of completion. Like many of you, I was concerned about going out in the world and doing something bigger than myself, until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than myself!
My soul is not contained within the limits of my body. My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul — one unified field of nothing dancing for no particular reason, except maybe to comfort and entertain itself. As that shift happens in you, you won’t be feeling the world you’ll be felt by it — you will be embraced by it. Now, I’m always at the beginning. I have a reset button called presence and I ride that button constantly.
Once that button is functional in your life, there’s no story the mind could create that will be as compelling. The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios — both good and bad — and the ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not only viewers but also projectors that are running a second story over the picture we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script and the working title is, ‘I’ll never be enough.’
You look at a person like me and say, “How could we ever hope to reach those kinds of heights, Jim? How can I make a painting that’s too big for any reasonable home? How do you fly so high without a special breathing apparatus?”
This is the voice of your ego. If you listen to it, there will always be someone who seems to be doing better than you. No matter what you gain, the ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is the ego that it would tempt us with the promise of something we already possess?
So I just want you to relax—that’s my job—relax and dream up a good life! I had a substitute teacher from Ireland in the second grade that told my class during Morning Prayer that when she wants something, anything at all, she prays for it and promises something in return and she always gets it. I’m sitting at the back of the classroom, thinking that my family can’t afford a bike, so I went home and I prayed for one and promised I would recite the rosary every night in exchange. Broke it—broke that promise.
Two weeks later, I got home from school to find a brand new mustang bike with a banana seat and easy rider handlebars — from fool to cool! My family informed me that I had won the bike in a raffle that a friend of mine had entered my name in, without my knowledge. That type of thing has been happening ever since, and as far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it might come to pass.
Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the doors open in real life, just walk through it. Don’t worry if you miss your cue. There will always be another door opening. They keep opening.
And when I say, “life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way. You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun!
Oh, and why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith — not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire. Faith leaps over it.
You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world and after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.
Thank you. Jai Guru Dev. I’m so honored. Thank you.
If you have ideas for inspirational graduation quotes, inspirational graduation quotes for friends, inspirational graduation quotes for sister, inspirational graduation quotes for brother, or inspirational graduation quotes from parents, please let us know.
— Mike O’Halloran
Mike is an author and founder of Greeting Card Poet.
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