93 quotes about personal development drawn from 13 famous initiation novels

In this article, I am suggesting 93 personal development quotes that come from 13 essential initiation novels.

quotes about personal development

13 emblematic novels and their personal development quotes

Some of us much prefer personal development novels to essays or practical guides to personal development. Thanks to their narrative style, they have the advantage of being both entertaining and full of teachings. By distilling key thought processes into an initiation story, they open our eyes to certain aspects of our lives without us truly realising it.

From initiation and even spiritual stories to the feel-good novel, the stories told in these books enlighten us about the way we think, live and behave or about our relationships with others. The story generally leads the reader to identify with a central character who is on a personal quest for happiness or meaning. The adventures and encounters of the character inspire the reader to self-questioning and answering. These stories are teeming with inspiring personal development quotes that can even, in some readers, lead to astonishing new awareness. For all these reasons, these personal development novels remain on bookshop shelves across the years to become legendary works.

In this article, I am going to look at thirteen emblematic initiation novels. I have picked out 93 gems of quotes to cultivate your personal development!

“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince

First published in French in 1943 before being translated into 57 languages, The Little Prince is the most famous book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Both poetic and philosophical, this children’s tale is about a little prince who is astonished by the absurdities of adults. The story can be read by everyone as an invitation to get in touch with our inner child. Some of the parables and quotes have become cult in the field of personal development for the timeless reflections that they invoke of our lost insouciance.

Personal development quotes from the book The Little Prince

  • “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;  what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  
  • “I wonder whether the stars are set alight in heaven so that one day each one of us may find his own again.” 
  • “For every end, there is always a new beginning.” 
  • “We must only demand that which each individual can give.” 
  • “All grown-ups were once children (but only few of them remember it).” 
  • “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” 
  • “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I’m nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”    
  • “Why are you drinking? – the little prince asked.
    – In order to forget – replied the drunkard.
    – To forget what? – inquired the little prince, who was already feeling sorry for him.
    – To forget that I am ashamed – the drunkard confessed, hanging his head.
    – Ashamed of what? – asked the little prince who wanted to help him.
    – Ashamed of drinking! – concluded the drunkard, withdrawing into total silence.”

For more on this book, read the chronicle about the book The Little Prince 

The Soul of the World by Frédéric Lenoir

The Soul of the World by Frédéric Lenoir

The famous initiation tale by Frédéric Lenoir published in 2014 tells the story of a meeting of seven wise men in Tibet. They travel from all over the world to pass the keys of universal wisdom onto two teenagers.

Personal development quotes from the book The Soul of the World

  • “One evening, an old man spoke to his grandson: “My child, there is a struggle between two wolves inside each one of us. One is bad and the other is good.” The child thought about this, then asked: “Which wolf will win?” “The one you feed”, answered the old man.” 
  • Unhappy is the man who does not know that he possesses two great treasures inside himself: clarity of mind, that can set him free, and goodness of heart, that can make him happy.” 
  • “How many human beings spend most of their life worrying about material or futile thinks and forget to take the time to live the most essential experiences: love, friendship, creative activity, contemplating the beauty of the world? The superfluous is costly, but the essential is given freely.” 
  • “What counts is not to climb this mountain or that one, or the other one, but to walk the path. And to do so with attention, perseverance, with an open heart and a watchful mind. It is not the name of the summit we climbed that transforms us, but the presence and love that we put into the walk. The world is beautiful for the variety of its landscapes. The spiritual life is beautiful for the multiplicity of its paths.” 
  • “Our world today is caught in the frenzy of “always more”, of activism, the accumulation of wealth, but man does not need many things to be happy. His essential happiness does not come from his possessions, but from the peace of his soul.” 

For more on this book, read the chronicle about The Soul of the World. 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A global best-seller, this philosophical tale by Paulo Coelho came out in 1988. It talks about fulfilling your dreams and what the Brazilian author calls “your personal legend”. Many of the personal development quotes from this book have become very famous all over the world and in every language.

Personal development quotes from The Alchemist

  • “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”
  • “Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.” 
  • “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 
  • “Happiness is something that multiplies when it is divided.” 
  • “It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn.” 
  • “If you start by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work towards getting it.” 
  • “The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it.”  
  • “Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” 
  • “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”  

For more on this book, read the chronicle about the book The Alchemist 

The Day I Learned to Live by Laurent Gounelle

In this novel of initiation by Laurent Gounelle, a man learns that he is about to die. The man embarks on an adventure that will lead him to discover himself and to form a radically different view about life. Since it was published in 2016, the book has encountered huge success. It is full of personal development quotes that are each as inspirational as the next one.

Personal development quotes from the book The Day I Learned to Live

  • “What we hate about other people is sometimes what we do not accept about ourselves.” 
  • “Look for the divine in yourself instead of the devil in others.” 
  • “And you know, what is troubling in life is that everything that happens to us, positive and negative, joy and drama, secretly serves one goal: to awaken our consciousness, because it is only there that we fully become ourselves.” 
  • “If each of us was conscious of the immense value that is ours, then the entire face of the world would be changed.” 
  • “The more you turn outwards to seek satisfaction, the more you will feel it is missing. The more you chase after your desires, the less satisfied you will be.” 
  • “To live well is to prepare to die with no regrets.” 
  • “The world is the result of our individual acts. Changing oneself is the only path towards a better world.” 

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a guidebook published in 2005. Canadian author Robin S. Sharma tells the story of a lawyer who has a close encounter with death, goes through a spiritual crisis and undertakes a trip to the Himalayan mountains.

Personal development quotes from the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

  • “There are three mirrors that form a person’s reflection; the first is how you see yourself, the second is how others see you and the third mirror reflects the truth.” 
  • The secret of happiness is simple: find out what you truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. If you study the happiest, healthiest, most satisfied people of our world, you will see that each and every one of them has found their passion in life, and then spent their days pursuing it.” 
  • “There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”    
  • “Every second you spend thinking about someone else’s dreams you take time away from your own.” 
  • “We are all here for some special reason. Meditate on what your true calling is, and how you can give of yourself to others. Stop being a prisoner of gravity. Today, light your spark of life and let it blaze brightly.”  
  • “Remember, the mind truly is like any other muscle in  your body. Use it or lose it.”    
  • “The real key to remember is that happiness is a journey, not a destination.”  
  • “Most of us have the same raw materials from the moment we take our first breath of air; what separates those people who achieve more than others or those that are happier than others is the way that they use and refine these raw materials.  When you dedicate yourself to transforming your inner world your life quickly shifts from the ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary.”   

Chasing the Stars by Virginie Grimaldi

Chasing the Stars by Virginie Grimaldi

This feel-good novel by Virginie Grimaldi came out in 2019. It is full of motivating quotes for your personal development that will put you in a good mood. It is the story of Anna, a mother overwhelmed by her two teenage children. She decides to take them on a trip in a camper van, embarking the reader in a whirlwind of emotions.

Personal development quotes from the book Chasing the Stars

  • “Parents are tightrope walkers. We walk a fine line between too much and not enough, with a fragile package in our hands.” 
  • “A mother cannot be happy if one of her children is not.” 
  • “Nothing is set in stone, everything evolves. Don’t be sad today, because what is happening to you may bring great joy.” 
  • “But this silence was different. It brought us together. We had just been knocked out by the beauty of the world.” 
  • “Before, people said that I was different, I felt as though I was playing a game of “odd one out”. But in the end, I want to stay different for ever. I never want to become like everyone else. It’s silly to be someone else when you are yourself.” 
  • “You cannot start over, but you can choose another path.” 
  • “Laughter is the best lining to tears.” 
  • “Morning smells of hope. Perhaps this is the day when everything changes. An encounter. An idea. A solution. A departure.” 

Kilometre Zero by Maud Ankaoua

Kilometre Zero by Maud Ankaoua

Maud Ankoua’s first book Kilometre Zero is a best seller that came out in 2019. It tells the story of Maëlle and her frenetic lifestyle as the financial director of start-up. She goes to the Annapurna Mountains on a personal quest.

Personal development quotes from the book Kilometre Zero

  • “Life is nothing but a series of options.” 
  • “Happiness is a state of mind; it does not depend on what will happen later or an external fact. It starts here and now.” 
  • “The only true errors are the ones we commit repeatedly. The others are unique learning opportunities. Do not fear failure, because it is the precursor to success.” 
  • “Happiness does not lie in the final kilometre that never exists, but in kilometre zero, that begins at every moment.” 
  • “Others are an extraordinary gift; they allow us to access what we refuse to see.” 
  • “Truth can exceed our angle of vision.” 
  • “Every moment you lose being unhappy will never be given back. You know where your life begins, but not when it ends. A second lived is a gift we should not waste. Happiness is lived now.” 
  • “Just two states exist; fear and love. All our thoughts are rooted in one or the other. Fear leads to sadness, anger, aggressiveness or many other emotions that have a disastrous effect on our body. On the other hand, the thoughts generated in a state of love lead to harmony of body, reconciliation, unity and well-being.” 

Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Who has not one day come across personal development quotes taken from the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman? Published in 1980, this autobiographical work of fiction was so successful that it was even turned into a film. It tells the story of an encounter between a young gymnast and a spiritual teacher who is a garage attendant. He learns, through various physical and mental challenges, how heavy negative thoughts weigh heavy on our lives.

Personal development quotes from the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior

  • “There are no ordinary moments.” 
  • “To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.” 
  • “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”   
  • “Consciousness is not in the body; the body is in Consciousness.” 
  • “So there are two ways to be rich: You earn, inherit, borrow, beg, or steal enough money to meet all your desires; or, you cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires; that way you always have enough money.”    
  • “I’ve learned the value of letting go and getting out of the way when it serves a higher good.”   
  • “When you sit, sit; when you stand, stand; whatever you do, don’t wobble.’ Once you make your choice, do it with all your spirit.” 
  • “Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humour, and change.” 

All the Blue in the Sky by Mélissa Da Costa

All the Blue in the Sky by Mélissa Da Costa

In All the Blue in the Sky, Mélissa Da Costa takes the reader into the adventures of a man suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s who goes on one last trip. Reading this emotionally charged tale will leave you changed.

Personal development quotes from the book All the Blue in the Sky

  • “Melancholy is the joy of being sad.” 
  • “She smiled. Because she had just understood, with a mixture of sadness and melancholy, that it was better to cry for all the marvellous people we lose than to have never known them.” 
  • “The present moment has an advantage over all the others: it belongs to us.” 
  • “When you have the impression that life is scattering you into a thousand pieces, when all your markers fly away, then turn into a tree.” 
  • “Accepting to receive is a gesture of generosity, you know… Perhaps even more so that giving.” 
  • “Being happy is not serenity, calm and happiness without waves. On the contrary, it is being able to smash everything to pieces, to question everything, your whole life if you want to.” 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert personal development quotes

There are many personal development quotes throughout the famous book by Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love that came out in 2009. These punchy sentences are part of the main character’s quest for meaning (played by Julia Roberts in the cinema adaptation of the book). When dissatisfaction with life gnaws at her, she abandons everything to travel solo around the world.

Personal development quotes from the book Eat, Pray, Love

  • “We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”   
  • “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” 
  • “Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” 
  • “We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time.” 
  • “I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind”—the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” 
  • “People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate and all reach you, just as rivers enter the ocean.”   
  • “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”   
  • “I feel the same way about you that I felt about my kids when they were small—that it wasn’t their job to love me, it was my job to love them.” 
  • “Prayer is the act of talking to God, while meditation is the act of listening.” 
  • “Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.”  

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estès

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estès personal development quotes

In this famous collection of tales and legends from around the world, the writer Clarissa Pinkola Estès, who is also a psychoanalyst, invites women to find their instinctive nature, that has been kept muzzled too often, and become free, creative and wild. Women Who Run with the Wolves is a must-read. It has been consistently popular since it was first published in 2001.

Personal development quotes from the book Women Who Run with the Wolves

  • “The craft of questions, the craft of stories, the craft of the hands—all these are the making of something, and that something is soul. Anytime we feed the soul, it guarantees increase.” 
  • “Solitude is not an absence of energy or action, as some believe, but is rather a boon of wild provisions transmitted to us from the soul. In ancient times, purposeful solitude was both palliative and preventative. It was used to heal fatigue and to prevent weariness.” 
  • “Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”  
  • “Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success.”        
  •  “If you’re scared, so what? If you’re afraid something’s going to leap out and bite you, then for heaven’s sake, get it over with already. Let your fear leap out and bite you so you can get it over with and go on. You’ll get over it. The fear will pass. In this case, it is better if you meet it head on, feel it, get it over with, than to keep using it to avoid cleaning up the river.”      

The Why Café by John P. Strelecky

the why cafe personal development quotes

The Why Café by John P. Strelecky begins with a man who gets lost travelling along a country road. He ends up outside a café in the middle of nowhere. He meets some surprising people inside the café, encounters that change his life forever.

Personal development quotes from the book The Why Café

  • “If you aren’t in tune with what you want to do, you can waste your energy on lots of things. Then when opportunities come up to do what you want, you might not have the strength or time to spend on them.” 
  • “When a person knows the reason they are here, they have identified their ‘Purpose For Existing.’ We call it TFE’ for short. During someone’s lifetime, they may find they want to do ten, twenty, or hundreds of things to fulfil their Purpose For Existing. They can do all of them.” 
  • “As we try to find what will fulfil our PFE, our limits today are much less about accessibility, and much more about limitations we impose on ourselves.” 
  • “Sometimes it helps to look at things from a different perspective.” 
  • “Once someone knows why they are here, they do whatever they want that fulfils their reason?”
  •  “No one can keep a person from, or enable them to, achieve and do all that they want in life. We each control our own destiny.” 

The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield

The Celestine Prophecy personal development quotes

In this legendary book from 2003, James Redfield treats us to the adventures of his hero from the Andes to the Amazonian rainforest. As part of his quest, the author questions the goal of life and goes beyond simple coincidences to reveal the meaning of things to us.

Personal development quotes from The Celestine Prophecy

  • “The problem in life is not to find the answers; it is to ask the right questions.” 
  • “We must assume every event has significance and contains a message that pertains to our questions…this especially applies to what we used to call bad things…the challenge is to find the silver lining in every event, no matter how negative.”
  • “[…] we humans seek to outwit and control each other not just because of some tangible goal in the outside world that we’re trying to achieve, but because of a lift we get psychologically. This is the reason we see so many irrational conflicts in the world both at the individual level and at the level of nations.””  
  • “The truth shall set you free.”” 
  • “She leaned toward me. “Have you ever had a hunch or intuition concerning something you wanted to do? Some course you wanted to take in your life? And wondered how it might happen? And then, after you had half forgotten about it and focused on other things, you suddenly met someone or read something or went somewhere that led to the very opportunity you envisioned?”     
  • “To imagine is to conceive. To dream is to enter the Fourth Dimension. What was science fiction yesterday will become reality tomorrow.” 
  • ““After all, you have grown accustomed to having an authority in your life to define reality, and without that external direction you feel confused and lost. If the church men’s description of reality and the reason for human existence is wrong, you ask, then what is right?” 

If these personal development quotes from initiation novels have inspired you, feel free to tell us about it in the comments. And if you know any other personal development quotes that contributed to your own personal development, share them with us!

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