20 Thought Provoking Quotes By Oscar Wilde With Interpretation

Written by on June 17, 2019 in Conscious Living, Inspirational with 0 Comments

Oscar Wilde Statue by Brian O'Donovan | Flickr

By Mukesh Mani

Oscar Wilde was a talented poet, playwright, and novelist of the Victorian era, best known for his incredible wit, flamboyant style and his infamous imprisonment for being gay. Some of his most popular literary works include ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

Wilde was a great writer and a thinker who had the innate ability to deeply observe human behavior and portray it realistically through his writings. He brilliantly used wit and humor to mock the hypocrisy, social norms, sexual repression and class consciousness of the Victorian society often causing outrage.

The following is a collection of 20 brilliant quotes by Oscar Wilde (with a little interpretation) that carry within them some really deep and profound truths of life.

1. “In life, there is really no great or small thing. All things are of equal value and of equal size.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Everything is a matter of perspective. Gold is better than stone because you ‘perceive’ it as better. Its value increases purely based on the fact that it is rare in comparison to a stone which is everywhere. If stones were rare and gold was everywhere, it is the stone that would be considered valuable. So everything in this world just is, it is the human mind that gives it value or takes value away from it. From an absolute perspective, everything is equal.

2. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Meaning: True power comes to you when you decide to throw away your fake persona and connect with your true self. There can be no greater endeavor than spending time getting to know yourself, understand yourself and become your own best friend.

3. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Meaning: Everything is a matter of perspective. You can decide to focus on the darkness, or change your focus and see all the beautiful stars. The stars were always there; all that was required for you to see them was a change of perspective; a change of focus. This is the case with every situation in life. Change your perspective of things and the things will start to appear differently.

4. “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: People need attention. When you pursue your enemies, you give them your attention. You waste time and energy thinking about them and this is what they want. This gives them a sense of fulfillment. But when you forgive them, you let them out of your system. You are no longer wasting time thinking about them or pursuing them. You ignore them and this is bound to annoy them the most.

5. “I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: When one is young and immature, one believes that they know everything. This is just a phase of life that every one of us goes through. But as you grow older, and your awareness begins to grow, you start to realize how little you actually know.

6. “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: The life in regret is akin to living in the past. And when you carry the burden of past with you, it becomes difficult to move forward. The prudent way, therefore, is to learn from the past, but then let it go and use the lessons to build your future.

7. “A flower blossoms for its own joy.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: A flower does not blossom wanting to get appreciative glances from onlookers. In fact, it doesn’t care about that at all. A flower blossoms because it wants to express itself, not to anyone else, but to its own self. In a similar way, we must let go of our need to get approval and validation from others as seeking validation is equivalent to giving your power away. Instead, become self-validated like the flower. Only then can you express your true self to the fullest.

8. “A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Often times, we get so lost in the negatives, that we fail to see the positives even when they are right in front of us. A simple change of perspective is all that is needed to see the hidden charm in any situation.

9. “To define is to limit.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: When you define something, you reduce it down to the mind can grasp its concept. The capacity of the human mind is limited; it cannot fathom beyond a certain limit. And hence, you need to tone things down to bring it within the realm of the mind. For example, when you define what the ‘Sun’ is, you have to say something basic like, ‘the star around which the earth orbits’. Thus you oversimply something that is so massive, profound and unfathomable. Thus by defining things, we make them limited.

10. “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: There is a whale of a difference between knowing something and experiencing something. Things that are worth knowing can only be experienced, they cannot be taught. Experience teaches us far greater things than books ever can.

11. “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: When people live the way they want to live; when they don’t follow the standard protocol; they are called selfish. But the real selfish people are those who want to control others; who want to impose their own limited ideas on others.

12. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Life is just like riding a bicycle; if you do not maintain balance, you will fall down. Therefore, it is important that you try to maintain balance in all areas of your life. For example, if you are imbalanced in your eating habits; let’s say, you eat too much sugar, you will attract health issues. Once you cultivate balanced eating habits, your health restores itself back. So make a conscious effort to be balanced in every area of your life, but don’t go overboard with it either.

13. With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone. – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Not everyone who grows older, grows wiser. Some people, even when they grow old physically, remain immature mentally. These are the people who fail to learn from their mistakes; who are reluctant to do any kind of self-reflection to know themselves; who became a slave to their beliefs and ideologies.

14. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: To live is to be in the present moment; to be conscious of the fact that you are living. To exist is when you are simply living in your mind; lost in your thoughts either of the past or the future. So every once in a while, snap out of your mind, even if it’s only for a little moment, and become conscious of life.

15. “A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: If you don't think for yourself, you let other people do the thinking for you. You become overly dependent on others. You pretty much let other people run your life which is definitely not a prudent way to live. So take back control of your life and start to think for yourself.

16. “Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: You cannot judge a book by its cover. In a similar way, you cannot know anything about a person by the way he or she looks from the outside. It is only when they open their mouth and begin to talk, do you realize who they truly are.

17. “Nowadays, people read too many books to appreciate any.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: To truly appreciate something, you need to take your time with it. Go deeper into it; feel it with all your heart. That is the basis of true appreciation. But when you read a book simply to finish it so you can hop on to another, you cannot give it the necessary care and attention needed to fully appreciate it.

18. “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Discontentment serves an important purpose in our lives. For it is only when we are discontented with something that we make an effort to change it. Discontentment gets you thinking; it gets the creative juices flowing. It forces us to bring out our best and in doing so brings out our dormant talents.

19. “The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for.” – Oscar Wilde

Meaning: Growth is the basis of life and growth starts from within and in the process of understanding yourself. By understanding yourself, you develop the ability to understand others and the universe.

20. “I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Oscar Wilde

Solitude is the prerequisite for self-reflection and self-discovery. It is only by spending time alone can you truly know and understand yourself. And only when you truly know yourself can you start living a life that is true to your desires. Until such time, your life is dictated by others.

Is there any Oscar Wilde quote that holds a deep significance in your life? Please let us know in the comments.

Source of quotes: 1

Author Bio:

Mukesh is a writer and a blogger who is deeply passionate about meditation, mindfulness, understanding the mind, body awareness, conscious relaxation, and self-healing. He is also the founder of Outofstress.com, where you can find articles on these topics and more. You can connect with him through his facebook page here.


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