100+ Wise Quotes For When You Want To See The Bigger Picture

by Team Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
Owl on black background
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

Being a wise-ass kid never went over well, but now is the time to pass on some real substantial advice. Who said you had to wait until you were old and grey to be wise? Part of what makes a person knowledgeable is rooted in what they’ve learned from their mistakes. It’s about knowing how to self reflect and consider different perspectives. It’s important to remember that wisdom isn’t the same as intelligence or being book smart but about understanding yourself and the world around you.

When we think of someone who is wise, maybe we picture an owl, or an old white dude philosopher, but that’s a very limited view. Wisdom comes from experience, and that’s something mamas have in spades. Whether you’re looking for some inspiration or want to read the thoughts of your wise peers, a good quote can help you reframe a situation and put it into perspective. Here are 103 wise quotes you’ll appreciate.

Looking for more quotes that’ll inspire you? Check out our words of encouragement, Monday motivations, and strength quotes pages.

  1. “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” — Oprah Winfrey
  2. “We all admire the wisdom of people who come to us for advice.” — Arthur Helps
  3. “Sciences may be learned by rote, but wisdom not.” — Laurence Sterne
  4. “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” — Thomas Jefferson
  5. “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” — William Blake
  6. “No man was ever wise by chance.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  7. “Hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy.” — Liu Xiaobo
  8. “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.” — William J. Clinton
  9. “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” — Samuel Smiles
  10. “Wisdom allows nothing to be good that will not be so forever; no man to be happy but he that needs no other happiness than what he has within himself; no man to be great or powerful that is not master of himself.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca


  1. “Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” — Confucius
  2. “Cunning… is but the low mimic of wisdom.” — Plato
  3. “Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  4. “The difference between a wise and foolish man is this–the former sees much, thinks much, and speaks little; but the latter speaks more than he either sees or thinks.” — William Scott Downey
  5. “If I don’t have wisdom, I can teach you only ignorance.” — Leo Buscaglia
  6. “Wisdom does not show itself so much in precept as in life – in firmness of mind and a mastery of appetite. It teaches us to do as well as to talk; and to make our words and actions all of a color.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  7. “The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.” — Isaac D’Israeli
  8. “You can practice to attain knowledge, but you can’t practice to attain wisdom.” — Herbie Hancock
  9. “Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” — Aeschylus
  10. “Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.” — Thomas J. Watson
  11. “Wisdom begins in wonder.” — Socrates
  12. “Wisdom is found only in truth.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  13. “The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
  14. “Lord, bless me with the ability to achieve all that I can, and the wisdom to realize it doesn’t all have to be by tomorrow!” — William Eardley IV
  15. “The wise man hath his thoughts in his head; the fool, on his tongue.” — Ivan Panin
  16. “We respect our elders. There is wisdom that comes from experience, and I am not going to stop learning from wise counsel.” — Marcia Fudge
  17. “To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.” — Samuel Johnson
  18. “This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  19. “Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.” — Aesop
  20. “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” — Ansel Adams
  21. “Of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.” — Epicurus
  22. “Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.” — Euripides
  23. “Who is wise in love, love most, say least.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson
  24. “From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.” —Publilius Syrus
  25. “There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.” — Confucius
  26. “Wisdom and understanding can only become the possession of individual men by travelling the old road of observation, attention, perseverance, and industry.” — Samuel Smiles
  27. “Even when you have doubts, take that step. Take chances. Mistakes are never a failure – they can be turned into wisdom.” — Cat Cora
  28. “The gateways to wisdom and learning are always open, and more and more I am choosing to walk through them. Barriers, blocks, obstacles, and problems are personal teachers giving me the opportunity to move out of the past and into the Totality of Possibilities.” — Louise L. Hay
  29. “The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  30. “If suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise.” — William Butler Yeats
  31. “Wisdom is knowledge which has become a part of one’s being.” — Orison Swett Marden
  32. “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” — Francis Bacon
  33. “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  34. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” — Reinhold Niebuhr
  35. “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” — William James
  36. “Wisdom comes alone through suffering.” — Aeschylus
  37. “Wise men make more opportunities than they find.” — Francis Bacon
  38. “Whenever you argue with another wiser than yourself in order that others may admire your wisdom, they will discover your ignorance.” — Saadi
  39. “Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.” — Eckhart Tolle
  40. “Man’s wisdom is his best friend; folly his worst enemy.” — William Temple


  1. “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” — Saint Augustine
  2. “Wisdom is knowing when you can’t be wise.” — Paul Engle
  3. “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Thomas Jefferson
  4. “Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.” — Dale Turner
  5. “Cleverness is not wisdom.” — Euripides
  6. “True wisdom listens more, talks less and can get along with all types of people.” — Kiana Tom
  7. “To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.” — Plutarch
  8. “Wisdom alone is the science of other sciences.” — Plato
  9. “The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  10. “Discipline is wisdom and vice versa.” — M. Scott Peck
  11. “Wisdom outweighs any wealth.” — Sophocles
  12. “Wisdom begins at the end.” — Daniel Webster
  13. “He who devotes sixteen hours a day to hard study may become at sixty as wise as he thought himself at twenty.” — Mary Wilson Little
  14. “All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.” — Alexandre Dumas
  15. “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson
  16. “Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” — Elbert Hubbard
  17. “When you’re used to being prepared to reject conventional wisdom, it leaves you open to learn more.” — Mayim Bialik
  18. “Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.” — Theodore Roosevelt
  19. “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” — Henry David Thoreau
  20. “In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by.” — Lucille Ball
  21. “The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
  22. “I had a mission. I had to make my dream come true. If I didn’t, what was I proving to my son?” — Taraji P. Henson
  23. “Wisdom is nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life.” — Herman Hesse
  24. “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” — Immanuel Kant
  25. “Wisdom is a kind of knowledge. It is knowledge of the nature, career, and consequences of human values.” — Sidney Hook


  1. “It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.” — Epictetus
  2. “Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally. Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.” — Charles Stanley
  3. “Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.” — William Wordsworth
  4. “Much wisdom often goes with fewest words.” — Sophocles
  5. “Genius unrefined resembles a flash of lightning, but wisdom is like the sun.” — Franz Grillparzer
  6. “Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  7. “Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.” — Walter Benjamin
  8. “Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.” — Sophocles
  9. “There’s a beauty to wisdom and experience that cannot be faked. It’s impossible to be mature without having lived.” — Amy Grant
  10. “With age comes common sense and wisdom.” — Nas
  11. “Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.” — Euripides
  12. “Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two. A constant coming and going: wisdom lies in the momentary.” — Octavio Paz
  13. “Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious. Great speech is impassioned, small speech cantankerous.” — Zhuangzi
  14. “I actually think with age comes some level of wisdom.” — Nina Totenberg
  15. “Losing faith in your own singularity is the start of wisdom, I suppose; also the first announcement of death.” — Peter Conrad
  16. “A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” — Charles Dickens
  17. “There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.” — Francis Bacon
  18. “I think it’s really important for every mother to find their own way.” — Solange Knowles
  19. “Our happiness depends on wisdom all the way.” — Sophocles
  20. “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  21. “Remembering is painful, it’s difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom.” — Paul Greengrass
  22. “Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.” — Norman Cousins
  23. “A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.” — Moliere
  24. “To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.” — Wilson Mizner
  25. “I think it’s nice to age gracefully. OK, you lose the youth, a certain stamina and dewy glow, but what you gain on the inside as a human being is wonderful: the wisdom, the acceptance and the peace of mind. It’s a fair exchange.” — Cherie Lunghi
  26. “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” — Socrates
  27. “Sometimes I am happy and sometimes not. I am, after all, a human being, you know. And I am glad that we are sometimes happy and sometimes not. You get your wisdom working by having different emotions.” — Yoko Ono
  28. “The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.” — Benjamin Franklin
  29. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” — Leo Buscaglia

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