9 Life-Changing Sam Harris Quotes: Be Kind to Everyone

Sam Harris is an American author and a neuroscientist.  He is widely considered as one of the best thinkers in the modern day era.  Listening to his podcast or reading his books are some very mind-opening experiences.  Let’s look at some of his best quotes and open up our mind.


“If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?” - Sam Harris

The above Sam Harris illustrates how you shouldn’t try to persuade people with logic when the people you are talking to don’t value logic.  Also, if the people you are talking to don’t value evidence, you can’t persuade them by showing evidence.  Next time you talk to someone who doesn’t value evidence or logic, simply don’t argue as you can’t win.  


“What I'm asking you to entertain is that there is nothing we need to believe on insufficient evidence in order to have deeply ethical and spiritual lives.” - Sam Harris

You don’t necessarily need to have a religion in order to live spiritually and ethically.  Regardless of whether you have a religion or not, you can still meditate, take long walks, and live by principles that will lead you to be useful to others.  


“A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.” - Sam Harris, Free Will

The above quote is one of the most beautifully put and powerful quotes of Sam Harris.  There are multiple layers to this quote.  You can view it as a suggestion to cut as many as strings that are disrupting your free movements.  You can also develop your awareness of your current strings and ask yourself if you are okay with them.  


“Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.” - Sam Harris, Lying

The next time you lie, especially to people that are close to you, try to be aware of your root reasons for lying.  Is it that you are not willing to put the effort to understand or is it that you are not willing to be understood?  Or is it both?


“You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.” - Sam Harris, Free Will

We do not have complete freedom to decide what we are going to do.  There is room for us to gain more control by training ourselves and using different tools and techniques.  But still, a lot of our thinking is influenced by things happening around us that we have no control of.  Having said that, we want to do our best to control what we can control.  Even if our training and use of tools are going to increase our chance of succeeding by 10 percent, or even 5 percent, we still want to do them.  


“Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. …... If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it won’t matter how successful you become or who is in your life—you won’t enjoy any of it.” - Sam Harris, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Be aware that the state of your mind is the most important thing.  There are other important things like relationships and money.  However, if your mind is not in the right place, owning them doesn't give you joy.  


“My mind begins to seem like a video game: I can either play it intelligently, learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.” - Sam Harris, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

The above quote is so brilliant that it makes people easily understand how to approach life the better way.  Imagine your life is like Mario in the Super Mario game, are you going to be the one that tries to learn and improve to get to the next round, or are you going to let the same monster kill you at the same spot?


“Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?” - Sam Harris

When you meet angry people, remember that they have to suffer just like the rest of us.  Be sympathetic to them.  Maybe being kind to them is a little too much to ask for.  Try not to be angry at them or hate them.  


“Almost all our suffering is the product of our thoughts. We spend nearly every moment of our lives lost in thought and hostage to the character of those thoughts. You can break this spell, but it takes training just like it takes training to defend yourself against a physical assault.” - Sam Harris

To suffer less from our thoughts, we have to first know that we are not our thoughts.  We have to be aware that there are going to be random or uncontrolled thoughts happening in our mind all the time.  Be aware is the first step to take if we want to suffer less.  Observe your thoughts and emotions.  Be aware that you have that angry feeling and you have that scary thought.  They are not you.  They are just some feelings and thoughts that pass by your mind.  


Final Thoughts

A lot of Sam Harris’s writings and teachings are about being rational and being aware.  He inspires people to think independently and rationally.  It’s a wonderful learning experience when you listen to his podcast and read his books.  Some of tips for living a good life that are derived from the above quotes include:

  1. don’t argue with people who don’t value evidence
  2. your mind is more important than a lot of other seemingly important stuff
  3. be kind to everyone
  4. be aware of your thoughts and emotions to reduce suffering
How to Stop Complaining: Change It, Leave It, or Accept It
How to Stop Assuming: 10 Expert-Backed Ways
How to Meditate Without Your Eyes Closed: Do It in a Cafe
8 Life-Changing Quotes From Jim Rohn to Make You a Better Person
Don't Think Positive. Try the WOOP Technique Instead.
Forget Motivation. Reach Goals with "Implementation Intention"
How to Stop Wasting Your Life: 42 Simple Ways
Why You Need a Bullet Journal in Your Life and How to Use It
How to Master Your Craft by Copying Others: 6 Practical Tips
How to Overcome Laziness: 23 Practical Tips from Great Books
9 Life Lessons From Leo Tolstoy’s Quotes
Am I Shallow? Transforming Your Habits with Deep Work
How to Change Your Behavior and Create Habits: Tiny Can Be Big
What Are the 5 Keys to Success: Goals, Grit, Habits & More