Cover image for To Love this Life: Quotations by Helen Keller, Foreword by Jimmy Carter To Love this Life: Quotations by Helen Keller, Foreword by Jimmy Carter

Helen Keller Quotes on Happiness

"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, 1929

"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others."
—"My New Speech," undated

"I take happiness very seriously. It is a creed, a philosophy and an objective."
—"Happiness," School Bank News [published by the East New York Savings Bank, Brooklyn, NY], May 1935

"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."
—"Know Thyself," The Home Magazine, September 1930

Helen Keller Quotes on Nature

"I am thankful that in a troubled world no calamity can prevent the return of spring."
—Letter to Mrs. Felix [Carrie] Fuld, May 10, 1933

"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, 1902

Helen Keller Quotes on Education

"The highest result of education is tolerance."
My Key of Life, 1926

"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."
—"Going Back to School," The Home Magazine, September 1934

"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."
—"My Future as I See It," Metropolitan Magazine, 1904

"What do I consider a teacher should be? One who breathes life into knowledge so that it takes new form in progress and civilization."
—Speech to the National Education Association, 1938

"True teaching cannot be learned from text-books any more than a surgeon can acquire his skill by reading about surgery."
—Letter to Kathern Gruber, November 1, 1955

Helen Keller Quotes on Faith

"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."
—An Easter Message to the Boston Community Church, 1932

"Faith is a mockery if it does not teach us that we can build a more complete and beautiful world."
—"My New Speech," undated

Helen Keller Quotes on Women's Rights

"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."
—Speech to the delegates of the New Woman's Party, June 11, 1916, Chicago

"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."
—Undelivered speech for suffrage, prepared for Washington, DC, March 3, 1913

"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 Modern Woman. 1. The Educated Woman," Metropolitan Magazine, October 1912

"I think the degree of a nation's civilisation may be measured by the degree of enlightenment of its women."
—"My Future as I See It," Metropolitan Magazine, 1904

Helen Keller Quotes on Racism in the United States

"The continued lynchings and other crimes against negroes, whether in New England or the South, and unspeakable political exponents of white supremacy, according to all recorded history, augur ill for America's future."
—Letter to Nella Braddy, September 22, 1946

"Personally I do not believe in a national agency devoted only to the negro blind because in spirit and principle I am against all segregation, and the blind already have difficulties enough without being cramped and harassed by social barriers."
—Letter to Mr. Auster, September 16, 1951, regarding the efforts of the W. C. Handy Foundation for the Blind

Helen Keller Quote on Reading

"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, 1930

Helen Keller Quotes About Herself

"I believe humility is a virtue, but I prefer not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary."
Brooklyn Eagle, January 11, 1916

"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."
—"A Message from the Hand, or from Darkness to Light (Another Beginning)," draft of speech, 1928

"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."
—Letter to Clare Heineman, July 19, 1943

"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."
—Letter to Mrs. Felix [Carrie] Fuld, ca. 1933

Helen Keller Quotes on Triumph over Adversity

"The human being is born with an incurable capacity for making the best of things."
—"O! Brave New World That Has Such People In't," Red Cross Magazine, September, 1919

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope."
Optimism, 1903

"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, 1955

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows."
—Quoted in "Sundry Interviews," A Magazet, undated

"The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them."
—Speech for the American Foundation for the Blind, Washington, DC, 1925

"The true test of a character is to face hard conditions with the determination to make them better."
—Letter to "Friends," March 30, 1921

"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."
—Speech at the Wright-Humason School, New York City, Winter 1921

"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."
—Speech delivered at the Kent Street Reformed Church, Brooklyn, NY, 1927

"Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face."
—Quoted in Contemporary Quotations, compiled by James B. Simpson, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York, 1964, from letter to a five-year-old blind child, news report of May 31, 1955