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Alan Alda Quotes

Alan Alda

Alan Alda quotes: Mr. M*A*S*H on acting, writing, listening, laughing, dying, and more.

“You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover will be yourself.”

“Be as smart as you can, but remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart.”

“‘Never have your dog stuffed’ is really advice to myself, a reminder to myself not to avoid change or uncertainty, but to go with it, to surf into change.”

“It’s really clear to me that you can’t hang onto something longer than its time.  Ideas lose certain freshness, ideas have a shelf life, and sometimes they have to be replaced by other ideas.”

“Begin challenging your own assumptions.  Your assumptions are your windows on the world.  Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.”

“If you know what you’re looking for, that’s all you’ll get – what’s previously known.  But when you’re open to what’s possible, you get something new – that’s creativity.”

“Be brave enough to live creatively.  The creative place where no one else has ever been.”

“Being mystified is a good beginning, because you won’t do what you’ve done before.”

“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”

“The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous.  One is fluid, the other is rigid.  One is alive, the other is stuffed.  Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening.  Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.  When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues.”

“When I started out as an actor, I thought, here’s what I have to say; how shall I say it?  I began to understand that what I do in the scene is not as important as what happens between me and the other person.  And listening is what lets it happen.  It’s almost always the other person who causes you to say what you say next.  You don’t have to figure out how you’ll say it.  You have to listen so simply, so innocently, that the other person brings about a change in you that makes you say it and informs the way you say it.”

“Our lives depend on good communication.  Good communication helps personal relationships, it helps bosses and employees get along better.  We rely on it.”

“Some of the greatest things, as I understand, they have come about by serendipity, the greatest discoveries.”

“Originality is unexplored territory.  You get there by carrying a canoe – you can’t take a taxi.”

“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself.  Be bold.  When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore.  Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.”

“The best things said come last.  People will talk for hours saying nothing much and then linger at the door with words that come with a rush from the heart.”

“Don’t be upset that it takes a long, long time to find wisdom because nobody knows where wisdom can be found.  It tends to break out at unexpected times like a rare virus and mostly people with compassion and understanding are susceptible to it.”

“Life is meaningless unless you bring meaning to it… it is up to us to create our own existence.  Unless you do something, unless you make something, it’s as though you aren’t there.”

“No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.”

“In the midst of the sense of tragedy or loss, sometimes laughter is not only healing, it’s a way of experiencing the person that you’ve lost again.”

“As an artist, as an actor, as a writer, you have to use what’s personal to you.  You have to be personal about your work; otherwise, it doesn’t ring true.”

“I’m greedy for that satisfaction of doing something hard and knowing that, even though I was afraid I couldn’t do it, that somehow I can deliver.”

“Awards can give you a tremendous amount of encouragement to keep getting better, no matter how young or old you are.”

“I have a final word of advice to our students.  If you work very, very hard, this is the kind of actor, writer and director you may turn out to be, and if you work extra hard, this is the kind of person you may turn out to be.”

“What I always wanted to get seen as was as a good actor, when it was the acting I was doing.  When I’m writing, I want to try to be seen as a good writer.”

“I’m an angry person, angrier than most people would imagine.  I get flashes of anger.  What works for me is working out when it’s useful to use that anger.”

“Here’s my golden rule for a tarnished age: be fair with others, but keep after them until they’re fair with you.”

“It isn’t necessary to be rich and famous to be happy.  It’s only necessary to be rich.”

“I’ve been lucky enough to live through all the things that are supposed to give meaning to our lives, like parenting, grandparenting, art, celebrity.  All these things you expect meaning to come from, and sometimes it comes when you’re not expecting it.”

“What’s funny is that you can think you really value your life until you almost lose it.”

“Anyone I know who’s almost died has come out of it, at least for a while, looking at things differently.”

“So that’s it.  I’ve told you everything I know.  Think clearly and think for yourself.  Learn to use language to express those thoughts.  Love somebody with all your heart.  And with everyone, whether you love them or not, find out if you can be helpful.  But really, it’s even simpler than that.  After all this time, and all these talks in public and in private, I think I get it now.  If I were taking my friend Arnold’s suggestion and spoke from my deathbed, I think I know what I’d say.  I see now that I had my meaning all along, I just had to notice it.  The meaning of life… is life.  Not noticing life is what’s meaningless, even down to the last second.”

“Life is great – I wouldn’t know what I’d do without it.”

Also awesome are Mike Myers and Jason Bateman quotes.

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.