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Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. These Helen Keller quotes reveal a life shaped by determination, optimism, and wisdom.
An unknown illness left her without sight and hearing when she was just 19 months old, but Keller went on to became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The story of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan became widely known as a result of her autobiography The Story of My Life, and The Miracle Worker, its adaptation for stage and screen.
Keller’s story of triumph over adversity, self-belief, and hope still inspires people today. So here are over 100 hopeful and inspiring Helen Keller quotes to get you inspired too.
Helen Keller Quotes
We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others.
Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each others welfare, social justice can never be attained.
The world is not moved only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
As selfishness and complaint pervert and cloud the mind, so sex with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.
I rejoice to live in such a splendidly disturbing time!
When one reads hurriedly and nervously, having in mind written tests and examinations, one’s brain becomes encumbered with a lot of bric-a-brac for which there seems to be little use.
Great poetry needs no interpreter other than a responsive heart.
While they were saying it couldn’t be done, it was done.
There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.Light in My Darkness
Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.
What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.
The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.
We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.
Relationships are like Rome — difficult to start out, incredible during the prosperity of the ‘golden age’, and unbearable during the fall. Then, a new kingdom will come along and the whole process will repeat itself until you come across a kingdom like Egypt… that thrives, and continues to flourish. This kingdom will become your best friend, your soul mate, and your love.
The true test of a character is to face hard conditions with the determination to make them better.
If we do not like our work, and do not try to get happiness out of it, we are a menace to our profession as well as to ourselves.
It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.The Story of My Life
True teaching cannot be learned from text-books any more than a surgeon can acquire his skill by reading about surgery.
We have prayed, we have coaxed, we have begged, for the vote, with the hope that men, out of chivalry, would bestow equal rights upon women and take them into partnership in the affairs of the state. We hoped that their common sense would triumph over prejudices and stupidity. We thought their boasted sense of justice would overcome the errors that so often fetter the human spirit; but we have always gone away empty handed. We shall beg no more.
A person who is severely impaired never knows his hidden sources of strength until he is treated like a normal human being and encouraged to shape his own life.Teacher
I take happiness very seriously. It is a creed, a philosophy and an objective.
I believe humility is a virtue, but I prefer not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.
Education should train the child to use his brains, to make for himself a place in the world and maintain his rights even when it seems that society would shove him into the scrap-heap.
Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister’s hand.The Story of My Life
I cannot but say a word and look my disapproval when I hear that my country is spending millions for war and war engines—more, I have heard, than twice as much as the entire public school system costs the nation.
Faith is a mockery if it does not teach us that we can build a more complete and beautiful world.
What a strange life I lead— a kind of Cinderella-life—half glitter in crystal shoes, half mice and cinders! But it is a wonderful life all the same.
Literature is my Utopia.
Many people know so little about what is beyond their short range of experience. They look within themselves – and find nothing! Therefore they conclude that there is nothing outside themselves either.
Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.
There is joy in self-forgetfulness. So I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others’ ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.
I am only one, but still I am one.I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.
It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me… if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…The Open Door
I believe that God is in me as the sun is in the color and fragrance of a flower – the Light in my darkness, the Voice in my silence.
People don’t like to think, if one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.
To keep on trying in spite of disappointment and failure is the only way to keep young and brave. Failures become victories if they make us wise-hearted.
More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free.Midstream My Later Life
Every child has a right to be well-born, well-nurtured and well-taught, and only the freedom of woman can guarantee him this right.
I am not a perfect being. . . . I have more faults than I know what to do with. I have a naughty temper. I am stubborn, impatient of hindrances and of stupidity. I have not in the truest sense a Christian spirit. I am naturally a fighter. I am lazy. I put off till tomorrow what I might better do today. I do not feel that I have been compensated for the two senses I lack. I have worked hard for all the senses I have got, and always I beg for more.
Many of us delude ourselves with the thought that if we could stand in the lot of our more fortunate neighbor, we could live better, happier and more useful lives. . . . It is my experience that unless we can succeed in our present position, we could not succeed in any other.
What do I consider a teacher should be? One who breathes life into knowledge so that it takes new form in progress and civilization.
Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.
No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities? Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly.
So much has been given to me I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.We Bereaved
Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.
Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.
Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.Optimism
Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world.
The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.
We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world – the company of those who have known suffering.
To keep our faces toward change, and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate, is strength undefeatable.
The human being is born with an incurable capacity for making the best of things.
The woman who works for a dollar a day has as much right as any other human being to say what the conditions of her work should be.
The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them.
I am younger today than I was at twenty-five. Of course the furrows of suffering have been dug deeper, but so have those of understanding sympathy and inner happiness. Whatever age may do to my earthly shell, I shall never grow cynical or indifferent—and one cannot measure the reserve power locked up in that assurance.
The highest result of education is tolerance.My Key of Life
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.
Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.
I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.
One painful duty fulfilled makes the next plainer and easier.
College isn’t the place to go for ideas.
Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
Four things to learn in life: To think clearly without hurry or confusion; To love everybody sincerely; To act in everything with the highest motives; To trust God unhesitatingly.
Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.
Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.
I thank God for my handicaps. For through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.
The infinite wonders of the universe are revealed to us in exact measure as we are capable of receiving them. The keenness of our vision depends not on how much we can see, but on how much we feel.The World I Live In
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.
My friends have made the story of my life.
As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.
I think the degree of a nation’s civilization may be measured by the degree of enlightenment of its women.
When we complain of having to do the same thing over and over, let us remember that God does not send new trees, strange flowers and different grasses every year. When the spring winds blow, they blow in the same way. In the same places the same dear blossoms lift up the same sweet faces, yet they never weary us. When it rains, it rains as it always has. Even so would the same tasks which fill our daily lives put on new meanings if we wrought them in the spirit of renewal from within–a spirit of growth and beauty.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
Though she could have been incredibly isolated by her condition, Keller worked to find ways for her to express herself at first through touch, then with her voice. She grew to differentiate the different members of her family by the vibration of their footsteps, and immersed herself in music, literature, and poetry.
As an adult, Helen Keller was well-travelled, a prolific author, and politically outspoken. She lent her voice to the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, as well as campaigning for women’s suffrage and civil rights.
Whether you know her story from books, movies, or have just learned about the woman behind some of the world’s best-known quotes, we hope you’ve been inspired by these beautiful and insightful Helen Keller quotes.
Updated August 26, 2020.