Robin Williams — Beloved actor, comedian, and friend to many.
He played as John Keating, an English teacher in the 1989 film, “The Dead Poets Society”. He taught at an all-male boarding school.
His unorthodox methods magnetized a group of boys, who eventually started the club, “The Dead Poets Society”—a club with whom John was also a member of from when he was a student at the same school.
In this article, I want to recognize 8 Dead Poets Society quotes that gave a huge impact in my life that I felt like others might also learn and benefit from it.
“The Dead Poets Society” movie, starring Robin Williams as John Keating, taught a group of boys about life, romance, and poetry.
What do you think it means to live? What does life mean to you?
These lessons can still be applied to today’s world, and we may find that when we do, we will have a better understanding of life and its importance.
1. “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
If there is one quote that can summarize the whole movie, it’s this one. It’s a philosophy I’ve followed even before I saw the movie. This of course just made the movie even more marvelous for me.
So simple. So straight to the point. Everyone is capable of doing it — but yet, the majority does not.
Carpe Diem — a Latin phrase translating to “Seize the day.”
Dating as far back in 23 B.C., the Roman poet, Horace, has always been telling us to enjoy LIFE, “for life is short and it may end tomorrow”. For centuries and centuries, this phrase has been repeated and passed on to generations and generations, fast forwarding to today where the phrase still holds its original meaning.
There are other variations of this phrase, such as “YOLO” (You only live once), “No Regrets”, or “Do today what you can, rather than wait for tomorrow.” There are more variations but really with only one message.
The phrase’s message is simple, “Live life to the fullest.”
“Make your lives extraordinary.” as John Keating said.
Keeping this in mind has taught me to always look for the good in a bad situation. To look at the brighter side of things. That there must be something that I can take from the 24 hours in one day, that will add up to my skills, or to my knowledge. I want to go home and sleep knowing that I am better today than I was yesterday because anything can happen tomorrow. We could all disappear from this world in an instant.
“Life is too short to live a life in pain and suffering.” -Tony Robbins
I had a terrible car accident when I was younger, and I was blessed with this second life with no serious injuries, or disabilities. That accident seemed to be the gear I needed to put certain things into perspective and has made me appreciate life more.
It made me realize that the decisions I make could affect other people either positively, or negatively. Nowadays, I think about how I can affect everyone around me positively.
The world is mad, and at the same time beautiful. If people can only be kind to each other, and realize their own existing potential, then I think most of the depression, the anxiety, and the madness in the world will cease to exist.
Jim Rohn teaches us to be a tree. A tree when planted will grow as tall as it can, and plant roots as deep as it can. A tree
grows and dies after reaching its full potential — an achievement that not many humans have attained.
A fulfilled life will lead to a happy life.
Seize the day, for life is short and it may end tomorrow. Live life to the fullest. Make your lives extraordinary.
2. “You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are going to find it at all”
Speak up. Share your thoughts. Make your voice heard. You never know, this could open up new possibilities and/or opportunities for you.
Sometimes we tend to mimic other people’s actions and words, because they are who we look up to. We want them to like us back. So, we agree to everything they say and become followers to our chosen role models.
Consequently though, sometimes, it would be these role models that teach us the bad things or put us in situations we don’t really like or agree with. Having to look up to the wrong role model can bring forth many grievances and hardships. They would have the power to put their words and false in beliefs in your voice, even though subconsciously, it does not align with your own personal beliefs.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t borrow words from anybody. There are a lot of excellent role models out there and, by all means, borrow all the words that you can because sometimes, other people can say the values you recognize better than you do. This is okay. As long as these words doesn’t step on, or hurt anybody.
Borrow quotes, words, lyrics, and any words you find affecting you positively, until you find your own voice and you can
start saying your own personal beliefs with your own voice. I borrow words from anything that I can think of — movies, comedians, books, TV shows, friends, family, speakers, etc. — the list goes on. I plan to use these words to help me find my own elaborate thoughts and ideas to share.
I believe this is what John Keating meant when he said, “Strive to find your own voice”.
To strive is to work hard for. To put in effort to achieve something. To do the best you can.
I try to tell everyone that we must strive to better ourselves as human beings. Constantly strive to improve yourself so that you may achieve the confidence and the fulfillment within you, from doing the best you can.
3.” Thank you for playing Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
There are always different sides to a story, and sometimes these sides are not visible to us unless we step out of our
comfort zones and look at things from a different angle.
In this quote, John Keating stood on top of a desk in the classroom and asked his students what could his reason be for standing there, in which one of the students, Dalton, answered, “To feel tall.”
Two people can have the same job, same hours, same salary. One of them takes on the day as just another day, and complains about every little thing that goes wrong throughout that day. On a bad day, this person can be visibly upset and frustrated, that even the tiniest negative comment could set him/her off.
The other person however, tackles the day a little differently. He takes on the day and tackles tasks and issues with a smile, having the confidence that he can do and handle these tasks as they are part of the job. He looks at bad days as huge challenges that he must conquer and achieve, understanding full well that if overcame, the rewards he will get are from his own hard work. He might find himself actually welcoming these challenges, and a bad day becomes a good day when accomplished. He can now go home feeling fulfilled and satisfied with the day ending and moving on.
Tomorrow’s a new day.
4. “How do we, like Walt (Whitman), permit our own true natures to speak? How do we strip ourselves of prejudices, habits, influences? The answer, my dear lads, is that we must constantly endeavor to find a new point of view.”
But how so, do we end up with a new point of view?
The answer is to break away from your current beliefs and challenge them.
During our younger years, we were taught different views and beliefs. These teachings or beliefs that were introduced to us stayed with us until we got older.
Some people break away from these beliefs to reevaluate their values, finding what applies to them, discarding the ones that doesn’t, and adding on to their own beliefs. This results in an individual developing his/her own beliefs and values. Ones they can call their own.
However, some will share the same beliefs they learned from when they were younger until they move on from this world, without ever asking, “Does this belief agree with who I really am?” and deciding from that point if it is or it isn’t.
In relation to number 1, it took me years before breaking out of bad habits and bad temperaments from what I perceived to be a life of disappointments and dissatisfaction. These disappointments were because of a lot of points in my life then was not lining up to the ideal life I used to believe. I changed my ideals now to something better and understood more how life worked. I like to think that the decisions I made in the past has made me a better person today.
Although, the habits and temperaments I used to have still bleed out sometimes when I feel like I’m losing control with my environment. This I must admit, I have to keep working on and improving. A challenge I long ago accepted. A challenge that still exists until I gain mastery over my mental state and emotions.
I believe that there are other ways to do a lot of things. There is a lot of ways to be successful, and also, a lot of ways to be a failure. The little things add up.
Try to see life from different points of view and understand what each views may bring forth for you.
Sometimes the person who looks at what the majority isn’t looking at, finds the answer.
Perspective plays a vital role. You can look at difficult circumstances as a hindrance, a blockage, an interruption — or maybe you can look at it as a challenge.
Life after all, is full of challenges. We should get used to taking these on with an attitude that leads us to its benefits. We just have to look for those different angles and see the view from those points.
The glass is half-empty, sure, but at the same time, the glass is also half-full. Just because it is half empty does not mean that it’s not half full. Both of these facts are happening simultaneously.
You have the option to choose how to look at it. Choose wisely. 🙂
5. “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”
You can be daring and cautious at the same time. A wise man knows how and when to use both.
Dare to speak up. Dare to do what the majority is not doing. Dare to be yourself and go after your dreams. Make them a reality. But, practice caution. Get to your goal by whatever means necessary without stepping on anyone or
hurting anyone along the way.
We must be wise. With all the decisions we have to make, we have to be wise. We should not be rash and unreasonable, and we must consider if what we will be choosing will hurt people, or help people.
Always think before you react and weigh out your choices, for you always have a choice.
Measure the odds and make sure you are not hurting anybody or putting anybody down as you progress towards your personal goals.
6. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.”
“And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.”
“But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?'”
“Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”
“What will your verse be?”
Hearing this for the first time from the movie, I was blown away. These quotes kept resonating in my head quite often after hearing them. “What will your verse be?” Let me see if I can elaborate on this quote some more.
The human race — meaning us — is fueled by passion! We read, we write, we live, and we love, because we are all passion driven.
Our careers, our chosen jobs that bring us the material things that help us live a life of convenience, are all necessary and important.
But the intangible things that often get overlooked because of the influence of the media and social media, the love we feel from friends and family, the beauty we see from the world, the poetry we write from our hearts, these are what makes life worth living.
Life, my friends, is worth living.
While jobs and other tangible things are essential to human life, it is the fulfillment and satisfaction of an individual that makes life worth living. The intangible things like love, friendship, family, health — you are capable of achieving these, you have the ability to reach your full potential and that will surely lead you to a happy and fulfilled life.
7. “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
Well, this quote is one of the many reasons why I named this website as it is. 🙂
There is power in words. Jim Rohn said “All of us have the opportunity to affect somebody with words.”
If I ask you right now to think of a teacher from your high school (or from your past), I am sure you can think of one teacher that has affected you greatly in your life. You might even still know his/her first and last name, and a little more than you would know the others. Perhaps this teacher said the right combination of words to you at the right time. Or perhaps all he/she said was “Good job.” Sometimes that is all it takes to change a person’s life, if said at the right time.
If I ask you to name a few more teachers from your high school (or from your past), you might struggle trying to remember their names. Except for that first teacher that came to mind.
It is because these teachers has somehow sculpted you to the kind of person you are now. They said the right words at the right time.
There are only a number of musical notes and yet we have music by the millions. There are only a number of letters and words and yet we have articles and books by the millions. Every day, someone puts together different combinations of words to formulate sentences. These sentences turn into paragraphs. Paragraphs into elaborate ideas, and before you know it — a person’s life has been changed, or a movement started.
Many great things happened because a great speaker gave an excellent speech. Many lives changed because a wise person said or wrote the right combination of words, and a person who really needs it read or heard this person’s work.
Words. Are. Powerful.
Use it wisely, and use it for the good.
8. “I brought them up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. Now, those of you — I see the look in your eyes like, “I would’ve walked differently.”
Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, “That’s baaaaad.”
Courage by definition means: “The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear;bravery.”
Conformity by definition means:
“Action in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, practices, etc.”
If you look at both terms side by side with their given definitions, one can almost conclude that to conform is much easier than it is to have courage. Why? We, as humans, are social beings that tend to follow what society dictates as appropriate and acceptable. To deviate from these views might lead others to call them weirdos, outsiders, or outcasts, etc.
From the above definition of courage, depending on the quality of your mind or spirit, you can wake up your latent ability to face your fears. This ability is present amongst all of us, we just need to reach a state where we can unleash it to our advantage or for our development.
To face your fears is easier said than done. Fear is normal. It exists. One thing you should know about fear though, is that it limits you, most of the time, from seeing a world beyond wonders.
A man who is afraid of heights might never see how the world looks from above the sky or from a high vantage point.
A man who is afraid to keep his mind open and look at things from different perspectives, might not realize that certain problems may actually have multiple solutions.
A man who is afraid of commitment might never know how true love feels like.
A man who is afraid to speak up might find himself constantly agreeing with everyone he associates with.
A man who is afraid to socialize with other people might find himself feeling alone and empty inside.
A man who is afraid to be alone might find himself surrounded or attracting the wrong people.
A man who lacks courage might find himself living a life of conformity.
In a world where social media dictates what is acceptable in society, it could be difficult to find your own thoughts and ideas, even more so to maintain it. Society tends to dictate one’s success through his financial status, but you must understand that this is false.
We all have our separate, individual definition of success. We can reach our own definition of it, only if we have the courage to find it.
A man who dreams of being a bus driver, will be happy being a bus driver. A wife who dreams to be a housewife to take care of things at home will be happy being a housewife. Let us stop enforcing our definition of success to other people. Understand that this definition of success might actually just apply to yourself.
A wise man once said that “The opposite of courage is not cowardice, but conformity.”
Let us find the courage to rise above the difficult circumstances life challenges us with, to constantly look at different points of view, to find our voice and use words to change the world, and to weigh our options wisely, so that we may live a life to our fullest potential, and make it extraordinary.
“Carpe Diem. Make your lives extraordinary.”
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