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Inspirational Hemingway Quotes

Natalie Frank has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is Managing Editor for Novellas & Serials at LVP Publishers.


Ernest Hemingway has been described as one of the greatest and most influential American author of the 20th century. Many writers stated Hemingway inspired them to write including Ray Bradbury and J.D. Salinger Norman Mailer, Raymond Carver, Elmore Leonard, and Anne Beattie. The Russians have even named a planet after him. In the almost six decades since his death, Hemingway’s popularity has never flagged.

Anyone who has read his writing believe they know Paris as it existed in the 1920’s, Cuba in the 1940’s, and Madrid in the 1950’s. To read Hemingway is to gain an understanding of the horrors of war, the details and dangers of bullfighting how to catch a large trout then cook it just right in a skillet.

Not every writer loved him but few can say they haven’t been at least slightly influenced by his direct, crystal clear writing style and poignant way of expressing himself. Over the course of his lifetime, he had much to say both in his fiction as well as in interviews, essays and letters. His insight into human nature and life in addition to the craft of writing was unequaled. Some of his more inspirational quotes are presented and discussed here.


It is easy to act as if we are better than others. Sometimes we may be in some ways or perhaps we just want to feel that way when we know we aren’t. Either way, it doesn’t get us anything to act in a way where we look down on others. It might get us resentment, or cause us to lose a friend or the respect of a co-worker but in the long run it won’t help us in any real way.

The way to change, to become better than we are or to develop outstanding characteristics means always looking at the qualities we have then trying to constantly improve them. It takes identifying what characteristics we currently have and how we want to change or improve them in some way as well as identifying the qualities we don’t currently have but want to develop.

This will give us the opportunity to work towards the goals we have set. In this way, by cultivating the self, we will then come to improve upon or develop these qualities. Continuing to raise our standards in each area of life, or maintaining a sense of superiority to our former self such that we constantly strive to improve ourselves in meaningful ways, will allow us to achieve growth and approach our true potential.


Hemingway had great respect for the resiliency of humankind. He spoke a great deal about how life breaks a person, in his opinion every person, but how people get back up after being broken and use that to develop new strength. As he stated here while man can be destroyed, by death ultimately, he cannot be defeated. In fact, in Hemingway’s opinion, we aren’t even created to tolerate defeat. The human race has always fought back no matter what challenges, disasters or problems we have faced. Hemingway believed that was a trait that we all have within us.


I think this quote speaks to more than just accountability for what you say or do drunk. I think it relates to anytime we say or do something without thinking it through such that we do or say something we wish we hadn’t. Sometimes we may feel extremely enthusiastic about a new venture or cause when we first hear about it or because of our feelings toward someone agree to do something they’ve asked. But then perhaps we get home and some time goes by and we discover we aren’t nearly as excited about whatever it was.

That is the moment of truth. We can follow through with what we said we’d do and be a person others can rely upon or we can let it fall through the cracks figuring there’s no accountability and it doesn’t really matter. When these occurrences involve something we feel strongly about but there is a lot of associated work we don’t feel strongly about, we should remind ourselves that in future we need to be careful about acting impulsively. A little more thought into our words and actions will go a long way toward making us behave in a consistent manner that is in line with the commitments we have taken on.


Trusting others is not easy, especially when you have had that trust betrayed a number of times. The ability to truly trust another person is a rare gift and those that know from it may take it for granted. When you have repeated experiences where people you trusted abused that trust you become reluctant to trust again. It may seem easier and safer to avoid trusting other and not share your life with anyone for fear of being hurt again. But even when we’ve had such experiences, we have to take a leap of faith, because we weren’t made to live life on our own. Life has enough difficulties in it. Isolation and loneliness isn’t going to help make the trying times any easier.

That’s not to say we should be careless about who we trust or figure everyone is trustworthy. It’s okay to be cautious especially when we’ve been betrayed before. It’s possible that we aren’t reading people accurately or if we were raIsed by a parent who couldn’t be trusted with our emotions of important information that we are drawn to similar individuals. It’s also possible we were aware that the person potentially couldn’t be trusted but we ignored the signs because we wanted them in our lives so very much.

This means we have to learn how to better determine who can be trusted and who can’t. If you’re unsure whether or not someone deserves your trust then opening up slowly might be in order. Don’t make assumptions one way or the other, either because you are afraid, or because you so want to trust someone. Someone who isn’t trustworthy often shows their colors early on and the subtle signs are usually there if you pay attention to your interactions with them.


In Hemingway's novel The Old Man and The Sea, Santiago believes in luck but despite this understands that he needs to rely on skill. He also believes that each day starts fresh and whatever hardships you may have had in the past each day offers the chance to rectify them. Just because you haven’t been lucky before doesn’t mean you won’t be lucky today.

Santiago’s words in the novel are prophetic because the very day he utters these words, his luck turns and he benefits threefold. His luck changes back again but all through this his life much remains the same since he does not rely on luck, but accepts and appreciates it when it turns his way just as he accepts it when it turns against him. He knows that luck can’t be depended on or predicted so he works as hard as he can, developing his skill to be able to maintain his livelihood. This way he can control and predict his life course to some degree and when good luck comes he can truly take advantage of it and when bad luck comes he has what it takes to minimize its effect.

Just like Santiago, we can’t rely on luck or feel resentful when others seem to have the luck we want. Opportunities are always presenting themselves and we have to be in a place that we can take advantage of them when they come. But we need to act as if there is no luck and everything depends on our own efforts. That way if something unpredictable occurs that is positive for us we can get the most out of it and when things don’t seem to be going our way we have the stability in our life to ride them out.


In Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, Jake says these words to Cohn in Chapter II when Cohn tries to get him to agree to travel to South America with him. Cohn is unhappy with his life in Paris, and he thinks that a change of location will fill the void he feels in his life. Jake knows that this isn’t the problem. Cohn’s unhappiness is resulting from old values that don’t apply any longer and his overly decadent lifestyle which is all flash without any meaningful substance. None of this will be different anywhere else he might live.

This desire to just pick up and start over again when it feels like nothing in our life is going right and there doesn’t seem to be anything significant happening, or perhaps we haven’t met that special someone we long to meet or can’t find the job we dream of is tempting. But more often than not our discontent is the result of not trying hard enough to make things work where we are based on what may be unrealistic expectations or assumptions. When this is the case moving will just make matters worse as we will have the stress of relocating and getting used to a new place and whatever we have been unhappy with will still be a problem because our dissatisfaction is psychological not geographic.

That’s not to say that relocating is never warranted for our career, to be somewhere that has a larger population of singles that fall in a demographic that is important to us such as religion or because we have always wanted to live somewhere specific and now have the chance. But moving strictly as a means of correcting our unhappiness without a reason to believe there is a tangible solution that we can access in the new place is unlikely to be successful.

© 2018 Natalie Frank

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