The World’s Most Popular Quote (Plus 70 of the Most-Liked Quotes from 100 Goodreads Pages)

The World’s Most Popular Quote (Plus 70 of the Most-Liked Quotes from 100 Goodreads Pages)

By Theo Winter White

This is either the most interesting or least interesting thing I’ve ever posted on this blog. I’m gonna go with most interesting.

It’s quotation time! Yaaay! I know, I know, you can barely contain your excitement. Well, I’m excited about this and the reason is because these aren’t any old quotes chosen at random (at least, not completely random). They’re ranked quotes — according to Goodreads members.

I’ve been aware that Goodreads has a “like” feature for a while now but I’d never really taken the time to explore what quotes have topped the charts until recently and I’m guessing most people reading this haven’t either. Although there’s all kinds of technical and moral objections that could be raised — including objecting to the very notion that we should care about what ideas or writers are currently trending — Goodreads offers a potential answer to the question “What is the world’s most popular quote?” Answer: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss (Yeah, I was surprised by that, too.)

What follows are some of the all-time most popular quotes selected from 100 Goodreads pages. I say “selected” because I’ve largely focused on business-relevant quotes — or quotes that would appeal mostly to our regular newsletter readers (facilitators, consultants, coaches) — and not so much those related to reading, poetry, love, humour, etc. If you’re looking to add flavour to a presentation on innovation, leadership, strategy, change, team work or emotional intelligence, I’m confident you’ll find something here to hit the spot. Alternatively, follow this link if you’d rather return to the source: 100 Pages of Goodreads Most-Liked Quotes.

Also, please note that it's probably a good idea to check author authenticity before using any quote from the list as the Goodreads attribution system is far from perfect.

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” (191,596 likes) — Dr. Seuss

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“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” (104,200 likes)

— Mahatma Gandhi

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“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (83,581 likes)

— Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

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“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.” (77,301 likes)

— Maya Angelou

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“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (64,025 likes)

— Rob Siltanen

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“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” (60,162 likes)

― Narcotics Anonymous

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“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” (54,332 likes)

― Andre Gide, Autumn Leaves

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“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” (42,372 likes)

― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

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“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” (41,950 likes)

― Mark Twain

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“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” (39,551 likes)

― Thomas A. Edison

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“If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.” (37,970 likes)

― Gordon A. Eadie

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“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” (29,322 likes)

― Albert Einstein

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“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” (26,968 likes)

― Dr. Seuss

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“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (26,916 likes)

― Anaïs Nin

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” (21,271 likes)

― Winston S. Churchill

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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” (14,657 likes)

― Aristotle

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“Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” (12,754 likes)

― C.E.M. Joad

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“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.” (12,317 likes)

― Mark Twain

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“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” (11,317 likes)

― Leo Tolstoy

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“I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” (10,979 likes)

― Herbert Bayard Swope

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“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised anyway.” (10,917 likes)

― Eleanor Roosevelt

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“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” (9,675 likes)

― Gilda Radner

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“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” (9,062 likes)

― Albert Einstein

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” (7,872 likes)

― Aristotle, Metaphysics

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right.” (7,400 likes)

― Henry Ford

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (6,851 likes)

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.” (6,836 likes)

― Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

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“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?' 'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.” (6,517 likes)

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

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“My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best.” (5,743 likes)

― Winston S. Churchill

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“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” (5,389 likes)

― Confucius

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“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” (5,048 likes)

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” (5,022 likes)

― Herman Melville

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“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?” (4,981 likes)

― A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” (4,840 likes)

― Frank Zappa

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“If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.” (4,632 likes)

― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

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“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger -- but recognise the opportunity.” (4,507 likes)

― John F. Kennedy

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“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” (4,347 likes)

― Pearl S. Buck

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“There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics.” (3,871 likes)

― Benjamin Disraeli

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“The first draft of anything is shit.” (3,864 likes)

― Ernest Hemingway

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“You have power over your mind -- not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” (3,810 likes)

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” (3,806 likes)

― Friedrich Nietzsche

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“Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” (3,756 likes)

― W. P. Kinsella

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“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” (3,710 likes)

― George Carlin

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“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” (3,636 likes)

― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” (3,590 likes)

― Niels Bohr

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“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” (3,428 likes)

― Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

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“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.” (3,335 likes)

― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

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“Politeness is deception in pretty packaging.” (3,268 likes)

― Veronica Roth, Divergent

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“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” (2,857 likes)

― Steve Jobs

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“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.” (2,830 likes)

― Daniel J. Boorstin

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“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” (2,817 likes)

― Edward Abbey

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“Nothing great in the world was accomplished without passion.” (2,812 likes)

― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (2,799 likes)

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” (2,771 likes)

― Carl Gustav Jung

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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” (2,687 likes)

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

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“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” (2,687 likes)

― Harlan Ellison

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“My life has a superb cast, but I cannot figure out the plot.” (2,682 likes)

― Ashleigh Brilliant

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“Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” (2,667 likes)

― Albert Einstein

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“Life is a mirror: if you frown at it, it frowns back; if you smile, it returns the greeting.” (2,618 likes)

― William Makepeace Thackeray

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“Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” (2,544 likes)

― Mark Twain

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“It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.” (2,479 likes)

― Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands

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“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” (2,460 likes)

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

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“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” (2,442 likes)

― Plato

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“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” (2,440 likes)

― Aristotle

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“Learn the rules, break the rules, make up new rules, break the new rules.” (2,439 likes)

― Marvin Bell

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“There are much worse games to play.” (2,439 likes)

― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” (2,362 likes)

― Epicurus

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“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.” (2,321 likes)

― Confucius

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“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” (2,244 likes)

― Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World, Or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London, to His Friends in the Country, by Dr. Goldsmith

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