21 Famous Quotes About Having a Life Well Lived

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Many people would agree that since they can't prevent death, you should live a good life. Living life to the fullest instead of dreading our eventual demise ensures death has no power over us.

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Focusing on the idea of a life well lived provides a useful way to cope with a loss. If you must deliver a eulogy, write a sympathy card, or simply reflect on someone’s death, you and others may find peace by focusing less on death itself and more on the fact that the deceased lived well.

The following quotes express this idea. Consider using one of them to remind yourself and others that a life well lived makes death much less tragic.

Quotes About a Life Well Lived for a Eulogy or Funeral

Delivering a eulogy can feel like a major challenge. Luckily, you don’t have to rely solely on your own words. These quotes about a life well lived can help you find the right way to say what you need to say.

1. “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." — William James

This simple but nevertheless meaningful quote can help you celebrate the legacy that the deceased left behind.

2. “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Read this ideal funeral quote if you wish to express how the deceased lived a good life, especially when the deceased had a positive impact on the lives of others.

3. “The man is a success who has lived well, loved much, and laughed often.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

This is a shortened version of a Robert Louis Stevenson quote that may very well have inspired those “Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often” signs you see in many homes these days!

4. “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” — Thornton Wilder

At some funerals, you may want to remind your fellow mourners that they can feel grateful for the fact that the deceased lived well and made a positive impact on the lives of others.

Sympathy Quotes About a Life Well Lived

Even if you don't speak at someone’s funeral, you may still want to use a quote about a life well lived to offer some comfort and sympathy to those in mourning. Consider these examples:

5. “As a day well spent brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.” — Leonardo da Vinci

This quote’s message might comfort someone mourning a loss by offering hope that a loved one at least died content with the life they had lived.

6. “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.” — Terry Pratchett

Emphasize the positive by sympathizing with someone in mourning while also suggesting that the person they’ve lost will continue to live on through the mourners.

7. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

This may not technically qualify as a sympathy quote about a life well lived in the eyes of everyone, but some find this an ideal quote for expressing sympathy because it can also remind someone that, while their loved one may no longer live, there’s no denying the deceased lived well.

Religious Quotes About a Life Well Lived

Virtually all world religions offer plenty of quotes about death and life’s meaning. The following specifically touch on the idea of a well-lived life.

8. “A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” — Lao Tzu

Consider using this Taoist quote during a eulogy or in a sympathy card if you wish to remind those in mourning that someone who passed away had the courage to live a full life, even when it was painful or difficult.

9. “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” — The Bible, Romans 14:8

This Bible verse may comfort someone mourning the death of a devout Christian with specific religious beliefs and values.

10. “Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds” — Buddha

This popular Buddha quote emphasizes that death does not undo the good we did while we were alive.

11. “O soul that are at rest! Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him), well-pleasing (him), So enter among my servants, and enter into my garden.” — The Koran, 89:27-30

In Islam, death involves a joyous experience for those who have lived good lives.

12. “We must each lead a way of life with self-awareness and compassion, to do as much as we can. Then, whatever happens, we will have no regrets.” — The Dalai Lama

This quote about a life well lived actually contains universal wisdom and doesn’t necessarily need to apply strictly to one single religion. However, given the important role the Dalai Lama plays in Buddhism, it does have an underlying religious connotation.

13. “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” — The Bible, Ephesians 5:16-16

Quotes about a life well lived don’t just allow us to reflect on the fact that someone who’s passed on made the most of their time while alive. Quotes can also remind us that we will one day die, and should thus intentionally strive to live in accordance with our values while we still have the chance to do so.

14. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.” — The Bhagavad Gita

Many consider The Bhagavad Gita to be the “Hindu Bible.” This brief selection from the famous work highlights the fact that someone lived a good life if that person was dedicated to a noble goal without focusing solely on rewards.

Quotes About a Short Life Well Lived

As these quotes remind us, a life well lived doesn’t need to be a long life.

15. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” — Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s famous quote tells us that a long life doesn’t necessarily equal a valuable life or a well-lived life. Even if someone’s life was relatively short, it was still well lived if the deceased had joyful experiences while alive.

16. “Let your children be as so many flowers, borrowed from God. If the flowers die or wither, thank God for a summer loan of them.” — Samuel Rutherford

Someone religious may appreciate the notion that while a child was alive, he or she brought joy into the world.

17. “Children reinvent the world for you.” — Susan Sarandon

While not specifically about death, this quote may work well for a child’s eulogy because it suggests that part of a child living a good life involves changing the lives of that child's parents and others. The child may have died but lives on in memories.

18. “Only the good die young.” — Billy Joel 

True, out of context, many misinterpret the meaning of this line from the Billy Joel song of the same name. However, as often happens with iconic song lyrics, it’s taken on a new meaning in our culture for many. It often comforts those who lose young loved ones by suggesting that their early death was inevitable given their good character in life.

19. “Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.” — D.H. Lawrence

With this quote, we remember that all lives end eventually. Even if someone lived only briefly, what matters most is that this person used his time well.

20. “Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.” — Seneca

The idea that a life’s value has nothing to do with its length rings so universally true that philosophers were expressing it more than 1,000 years ago.

21. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Unknown

Many attribute this quote to Abraham Lincoln, but there’s no evidence he actually ever said it. Regardless, it sums up the message all these quotes have to share: A life well lived is more valuable than a life squandered, regardless of how long or short it may be.

A Life Well Lived: Making the Most of Our Time

You can easily find great quotes about a well-lived life. Throughout history, cultures, religions, and more, many have discovered a universal truth: Death isn’t necessarily a tragedy if someone lived a full and meaningful life.

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