Audrey Hepburn’s Top 3 Words of Wisdom

by Henrik Edberg

Image: / CC BY-SA 2.0

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”

Back in the old days, when movies where shot in black and white – and later on too – Audrey Hepburn was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Not only did she win an Oscar for “Roman Holiday”, she was also an ambassador for UNICEF and she is a timeless fashion icon.

Here are three of my favourite words of wisdom from her.

1. Your outside is a reflection of the inner you.

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I think this is a wonderful quote and in my experience a very true one.

How other people  see you aren’t just about cheekbones and a good sense of style. People view people through filters in their minds. A kind person may seem more handsome when you get to know him/her. A handsome person may suddenly not seem that attractive as you are confronted with his/her negative and whiney attitude. And this goes for pretty much any meeting or relationship you have with someone.

What you feel and think has a big impact not only on you. It is also spread to the people around you. Emotions are contagious and people form opinions about others oftentimes in subtle and almost unconscious ways. Now, this may sound a bit silly or like it is not of that great importance.

But if you try assuming rapport or just focusing on the good and positive you can find in others you find that overall they respond very differently than if you are negative and have a distant attitude towards them. It’s sometimes almost like speaking to two different people. Because people tend to reflect each other and adapt to each other very often in interactions.

Of course, it’s not always easy to look for the good in others, speak only kind words or to not put up walls in your mind between you and others. Sometimes you just have bad days.But it is important to keep this stuff in mind and use it as much as you can.

Whatever that is inside of you is always shining out and through in one way or another.

2. Don’t worry what others are thinking about you.

“I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.”

One of the biggest part of thinking and doing what you really want is to stop caring so much about what other people think of you.

A lot of the actions you take – or do not take – may be because you need approval from other people. When we are young we get grades in school that tells us that we are “good”. This makes it very easy to create a life where you always go looking for the world to give you the next hit of approval. It may be from your family, boss, friends, co-workers and so on.

But this need creates neediness. And the stronger the need the stronger the neediness. And so other people will sense this. And approval may be withheld or used to manipulate you. Or they may just not like your neediness.

The people on the other hand that does not care that much about getting approval often do more of what they want deep inside. They may be considered courageous for instance. So the way they live their lives will gain appreciation and approval from the people around them. It’s a bit counterintuitive.

3. Finally getting something may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

“Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you’re exactly the same.”

Often we wish for something. A new job or promotion, a new relationship or perhaps a new pair of shoes. And you think: “if I only get this thing, then I’m home, then I’ll feel happy and good all around”.

And then you get it. And it’s awesome. But often for just a while. And then you may feel like maybe something went a bit wrong. Like it didn’t fulfil you or complete you like you thought it would.

Why? Well, after while when you get used to something, when it becomes normal, then the ego tends to want more once again.

Or maybe you can’t enjoy something for what it is because even though your environment changes, you are still the same. The same person with the same outlook on life. With the same self-imposed barriers for your own success and happiness and maybe self-sabotaging behaviour. And until you take a look at those things you may find yourself repeating the same patterns over and over. Real change in your world tends to be a reflection how you have changed yourself.

Also, any success is often accompanied by unexpected and not always so pleasant side effects. Things may seem just perfect when you dream about them. In reality, it can become a little more complicated and messy.

Now, new things or people can be great. But if you think this one success or event you are looking forward to in life will fix all your problems or if you focus on the wrong aspects – what is not perfect, how can I get more etc. – instead of the positives and gratitude then you may find yourself always looking for the next thing and create quite a bit of stress and unhappiness within.

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Dayne | September 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Wow, this is a fantastic post Henrik. :) All three of those statements most definitely ring true. I especially like the first one and agree 100% with it. I’m loving your posts more and more!


Gabriel Hummel September 16, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Great Post Henrik

I connect a lot for #2 on the list. Not being concerned with what other people think of you can allow yourself to do, act, and feel the things necessary in order to live the type of life that you want to live, not what someone else has “expected” of us.

Keep up the good work

Wayne Key September 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I think that the essence underneath all three of her comments was the very simple idea of being “real” or “authentic” to who and what you are. In her screen appearances that was what came thru. I was always left with the feeling that there was no difference between the beautiful outside and the beautiful inside when I watched her performances.

Nice article! Thanks.

Bunnygotblog September 16, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I love this post. it is awesome .

Osama September 17, 2009 at 2:48 am

I definately relate to number 3 , I have to practice self gratitude . I see many people who have less than me but are happpier than me .

Cheers mate .

Tristan Lee September 17, 2009 at 6:52 am

Thanks Henrik. Nice post. I resonated with #3. When me and my first girlfriend broke up, it was hard. After I a couple years I recovered and all I wanted to have was another girlfriend. When I did another girlfriend (current relationship) it was a great feeling at first, but it didn’t fulfill me or complete me like I thought it would. Even though it was a good change, I think you said it great when you wrote it’s how the world changes is often a reflection of how you have changed yourself.

Faramarz - Anxious Candy September 17, 2009 at 8:50 am

Great points although I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of Audrey’s films. She is actually the last person i would expect to be able to give words of wisdom

Sietse | September 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

I particularly love “I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.” If people look up to you, that’s fine, but don’t force them to do so, or they will eventually look down on you. Do what you’re good at, without expecting something in return and it might pay off.

John September 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

Bravo! An inspired post, I thank you. She is a true classic star in every sense of the word and your post brings out some of the best of her legacy through her quotes combined with your thoughts, very well done.

Richard X. Thripp September 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm

The third point is the most important. Three years ago, I thought that if I just had a new computer and a new camera, I would be a much better photographer and get a lot more done. I had a junky point and shoot camera and my computer was so old, it would take 4 seconds to load a 4MP JPEG. I was taking photos like this.

When I got my new computer and camera in 2006, I didn’t get any better. My work actually got worse! It’s been that way ever since! I’m just now becoming as good with expensive tools as I was with cheap tools. Oh, the irony.

I turned 18 last month, but I didn’t consider it a milestone. Sure, my life is changing and I now live 80 feet from my parents instead of in their house, but nothing big has changed. Change only comes from within.

Phil Lynch September 21, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I agree that point three is the best. I emailed it to a friend because he talks about “there” looking better than “here,” but then you get “there” and it becomes your new “here” really quick.

Richard X. Thripp September 22, 2009 at 2:43 pm

There’s a saying for that: “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Once you get to the other side of the fence, which is better equipment in this case, you prefer what you were doing before! It’s happened to me. My most popular photos were taken with a cheap junky camera.

CherylK September 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Just a wonderful post. You’ve illustrated why Audrey Hepburn was not just beautiful and talented…she was very wise. Thanks!

Deb Owen September 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Her fourth piece of advice: always have a stunning little black dress handy. (ha)

While all three points are definitely valuable, the first one struck home with me. In our society, we’re driven to attempt to try to change external circumstances. But we don’t do the inner work and then wonder why patterns keep repeating in our lives.

And the whole ‘I’ll be happy when….’ issue. We put off happiness until we attain a goal, only to find out there’s another goal ahead. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey.

Thanks for an entertaining spin on some great advice.
All the best!

Barb McMahon September 18, 2009 at 9:32 pm

So much brilliance in a single post!

I have to go away and think about it for awhile….

Henrik Edberg September 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Thanks for all the great comments, insights and Tweets, guys! :)

Phil Lynch September 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Great post. The universe is teaching me a lot about positivity lately.

May I link to this post from my own blog?

lilly September 22, 2009 at 2:24 am

So profound! I love her, Im inspired to throw an Audrey Hepburn themed birthday :) has some great items.

Vijay - Meditation Techniques Guide September 23, 2009 at 6:29 am

Excellent post! I particularly liked the first one – “Your outside is a reflection of the inner you”. The world is the way we see it. A blissful person sees reasons for blissfulness everywhere and an angry person sees reasons for anger everywhere. It is all about inner tuning – rest everything follows. Keep up the great work!

Matthew Ferry September 25, 2009 at 6:47 pm

“What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.”
takes a lot on many people’s chest, doesn’t it? doing what you want to do and not thinking about what other people said takes the pressure into being something or achieving something, you really don’t want to.

Cheers for a great post!

Business Communication September 26, 2009 at 2:22 am

The second coming of Jay Leno. I agree. People that can make people laugh do more than those that make them cry. We all need help smiling sometimes. Its too easy to indulge in pity. That’s why they profit off all those mood altering drugs. What a difference a smile on its own can make!

Yvonne Vene2ia September 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Thank you for your great post, Henrik. Many think Audrey Hepburn was beautiful on the outside; I believe she was even more beautiful on the inside. She’s an inspiration that lives on, despite her death more than 15 years ago. Here’s another one of her many quotes for all of us to live by :- “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other”, a quote that reflects much love for all humankind, regardless of creed or color. After all, there is only one race on Earth – the Human Race.

katrina lauren October 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

i so love audrey for just the reasons you shared here….i enjoyed this post very much and your thoughts will be a reminder to me as i head into a new day…

Phaoloo October 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

I love your thoughts in this post esp. on the third one. Why we should care what others say about us? Following their words is the easiest way to drive ourselves crazy. Follow our own paths.

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