10 Life Lessons From George Bernard Shaw

10 Life Lessons From George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright, essayist, novelist, short story writer, active member of the Fabian Society and a co-founder of the London School of Economics who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.  George Bernard Shaw quotes taken from his plays and other written works are some of the wittiest and thought inspiring observations on society made in the last 150 years.  Shaw can certainly teach us all a thing or two about how to best live our complex lives with some simple pieces of advice.

1. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

How many misunderstandings have led to disagreements which in turn led to arguments?  How many times has lack of communication fostered the end of a relationship between two individuals or started conflicts between two nations?  Shaw let us know that the greatest breakdown in communication is the false understanding that there is no misunderstanding, or that just some communication is enough communication.  In reality, communication is an ongoing activity from which progression is bred, not a means to an end.

2. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

So many unmotivated and lost individuals have no idea what to do with themselves upon reaching the end of their adolescence and plunging into adulthood.  Throughout their years as children, people are constantly socialized like social chameleons with the camouflage of different identities lumped into one human being until they don’t know who they are anymore.  Don’t stroll through life trying to find your true identity by trying on other people’s identities.  Instead, be unique and take action to develop yourself rather than wait for the world to tell you who you are.

3. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

Stubbornness swallows up anything and anyone that doesn’t evolve, change, and progress with space and time.  Everyone is guilty from being stubborn or close minded from time to time.  It takes a lot of strength and willpower to either admit to being wrong or allowing progress to occur with a change of mind or a change of heart.

4. “Youth is wasted on the young.

What anyone would do to go back to their youth – whether it be their 20’s, college years, high school years, or earlier – with the knowledge they have now and escape adulthood if only for a week to relax and be absolutely worry free.  Children want to be adults and adults want to be children again.  Make the most of your youth and don’t skip the opportunities to travel, have fun, make friends, try new hobbies and activities… because you may not have the time or energy to do it when you’re gray in the hair.

5. “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”

Like the quote about “creating yourself” instead of “finding yourself,” you’d best be in the driver’s seat when you seek anything in life otherwise you’re going to get handed a pile of shit and be expected to accept it.  Stand up for yourself, your ideals, your beliefs, your values, and your goals otherwise you’re not going to achieve anything you want to achieve.

6. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

Again, grasp change.  Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t let fear dictate the direction you travel on life’s road map.  Stop playing life safe and take a few risks instead.  You’ll be glad you came out of your shell and experienced all that life has to offer rather than always wonder what could have been and live with the weight of regret and the eventual realization that life passed you by.

7. “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”

Failure is a mark of success.  When we fail, we learn from our mistakes and identify how to not repeat the mistakes that lead to failure.  In essence, we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes but should be afraid of repeating them and not learning anything from our past.

8. “You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?'”

Embrace an entrepreneurial and inventive spirit.  Never stop dreaming since the possibilities are endless.  In 66 years, humanity went from successfully flying the first manned aircraft in 1903 to walking on the moon in 1969.  Nothing is impossible as long as dreams still float above our heads.

9. “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”

Shaw meant to judge one’s self by the good they added to the world rather than the good they took from it.  Don’t be a leach on your family, friends, society, or the environment.  Contribute to the world rather than expect the world to contribute to you.

10. “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”

Don’t be ashamed of who you are and let the weight of your identity sulk on your shoulders.  Embrace who you are and lead a confident life in which you are certain of yourself at every corner of the road.  Additionally, individuals should no longer hide their faults but show the world that they’re more resilient than any faults they possess.  Dump the shame and embrace the mistakes you made in your past because they are what made you the person you are today.

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Tyler Austin
Tyler Austin
6 years ago

Not the best guy to get life lessons from, considering he was a raging socialist/progressive and was an advocate for Eugenics and for the extermination of those who “were not beneficial to the state or society”. Basically calling for the extermination of the old, the physically disabled, the mentally disabled, and so on. He was a Nazi before it was cool.

Jason E Koslow
Jason E Koslow
4 years ago
Reply to  Tyler Austin

I was thinking the same thing.

7 years ago

Number 2 became my life quote some time ago.