Insight (quotes)


What is insight?


Insight is apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

  • Insight:  The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something. Oxford Dictionary
  • Insight:  The ability to have a clear, deep, and sometimes sudden understanding of a complicated problem or situation. Cambridge Dictionary
  • Insight: An instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding.
  • Insight: Penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.
  • Insight: The act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.  Merriam Webster
  • The best vision is insight. Malcolm S. Forbes
  • TruthUnderstandingWisdomVisionIntuitionObservation

Insight is intertwined with understanding

  • Knowledge is measuring that a desert path is 12.4 miles long. Wisdom is packing enough water for the hike. Insight is building a lemonade stand at mile 6.  Christopher Reiss
  • A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. Marshall McLuhan
  • All of us must cross the line between ignorance and insight many times before we truly understand. David B. Hawkins
  • Understanding

Insight is intertwined with wisdom

  • Why is wisdom so fair? Why is beauty so wise? Because all else is temporary, while beauty and wisdom are the only real and constant aspects of truth that can be perceived by human means.  And I don’t mean the kind of surface beauty that fades with age, or the sort of shallow wisdom that gets lost in platitudes.  True beauty grips your gut and squeezes your lungs, and makes you see with utmost clarity exactly what is before you.  True wisdom then steps in, to interpret, illuminate, and form a life- altering insight.  Vera Nazarian
  • Wisdom

Insight is intertwined with intuition …

  • Intuition is a way of knowing about the world through insight and exercising one’s imagination. Valerie Janesick
  • The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact, they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness. The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links. Arthur Koestler
  • For the spiritual being, intuition is far more than a hunch. It is viewed as guidance or as God talking, and this inner insight is never taken lightly or ignored. Wayne Dyer
  • Intuition

… more so than reason

  • Intelligence is composed mostly of imagination, insight, things that have nothing to do with reason. Vivienne Westwood
  • Reason does not work instinctively, but requires trial, practice, and instruction in order to gradually progress from one level of insight to another. Immanuel Kant
  • Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is. Carl Gustav
  • ReasonLogic

The power of insight


Insight can have a powerful effect on our lives …

  • You never know when it is going to happen, when you will experience a moment that dramatically transforms your life. When you look back, often years later, you may see how a brief conversation or an insight you read somewhere, changed the entire course of your life. Gay Hendricks
  • Life change comes about in two complementary ways – the “aha” moment, which occurs in a flash of insight; and the conscious redesigning of habitual behaviors, which is a lifelong project.  Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • A single moment of understanding can flood a whole life with meaning.

… and on us

  • Nothing in life is more exciting and rewarding than the sudden flash of insight that leaves you a changed person, not only changed, but for the better. Arthur Gordon
  • Peace of mind happens to a man only after he has developed deep insight, only after he starts seeing the things in the right perspective. Sam Veda
  • A tornado of thought is unleashed after each new insight. This in turn results in an earthquake of assumptions. These are natural disasters that re-shape the spirit. Vera Nazarian

Insight is much deeper than mere information and knowledge

  • The goal is to transform data into information, and information into insight. Carly Fiorina
  • Knowing things doesn’t teach insight. Heraclitus
  • Knowledge

Insight is deeper than experience


How to gain insight


Gain insights through questions and experiments

  • We gain all genuine insight from questions and experiments. Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you do not already possess. Mortimer Adler
  • A major stimulant to creative thinking is focused questions. There is something about a well- worded question that often penetrates to the heart of the matter and triggers new ideas and insights. Brian Tracy
  • QuestionsExperimentation

Gain insights by seeing deeply into things …

  • A great thought begins by seeing something differently, with a shift of the mind’s eye. Albert Einstein
  • What you fear, approach. What you deny, say. What you control, release. With fear, denial, and control aside, you can see things in your own unique and authentic way. Peggy O’Mara
  • Look at everything as if you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Betty Smith
  • To look at a thing is very different from seeing it. Oscar Wilde
  • The whole of life lies in the verb seeing. Teilhard de Chardin
  • One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak. K. Chesterton
  • I shut my eyes in order to see. Paul Gauguin
  • Shut your eyes and see. James Joyce
  • Your sight must become an insight; it must be turned within and used to purify and clarify your mind. Sri Sathya Sai Baba

 … or by seeing something in a fresh new way


Gain insight by getting to know yourself and understanding human nature

  • Insight occurs when, and to the degree that, one knows oneself.  Andrew Schneider
  • The greatest discoveries are those that shed light unto ourselves. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature … what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action . . . if you know these things about a man you can touch him at the core of his being. William Bernbach
  • The secret of man’s success resides in his insight into the moods of people, and his tact in dealing with them. Josiah Gilbert Holland
  • Self-knowledge

Gain insight by mastering one thing well

  • If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things. Vincent van Gogh
  • MasteryFocus

Gain insight through reading and reflecting

  • Reflective thinking turns experience into insight. John Maxwell
  • All of the insights that we might ever need have already been captured by others in books. The important question is this: In the last ninety days, with this treasure of information that could change our lives, our fortunes, our relationships, our health, our children and our careers for the better, how many books have we read? Jim Rohn
  • If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you do not already possess. Mortimer Adler
  • ReadingReflection

Gain insight by writing

  • Writing has immense power. You don’t realize it until you use it. It brings about clarity, solidifies resolve, fortifies ideas, keeps you focused and, observed over a period, reveals deeper insights than mere thinking was capable of.  Rahul Singh
  • Writing

Gain insight by teaching

  • To be a teacher was to be a student anew, to relive the intoxication of insight, and to be a prophet, to sketch the world down to its very foundation — not simply to tease sight from blindness, but to demand that another see. Scott Bakker
  • Teaching

Gain insight by looking deeply into your life

  • The eruption of feelings and emotions that follows a near-death experience, or any event that causes us to stop and look deeply at the reality of our lives, is ripe with the potential for insight and clarity. Allan Lokos

Gain insight through stillness and calmness …

  • In order to gain an insight, your brain has to be in a quiet state. David Rock
  • …with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things. William Wordsworth
  • Equanimity supports wisdom because when the mind doesn’t shake, we can stay with the truth of things long enough to have a deep insight. Shaila Catherine
  • When we let go of the thinking mind, we become open to insight—to what in spirituality we might call revelation, or the spontaneous arising of a deep wisdom or a deep knowing. Adyashanti
  • When a person is distraught or stressed or nervous or insecure, no insight is gained from overthinking. To the contrary, ruminations makes things only worse.  Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Wisdom is the insight and intuition contained in the proverbial still, small voice that only a quiet mind can hear and know. Sue Patton Thoele
  • StillnessCalmness

… by going beyond the thinking mind

  • When we let go of the thinking mind, we become open to insight—to what in spirituality we might call revelation, or the spontaneous arising of a deep wisdom or a deep knowing. Adyashanti

Gain insight by living in the present moment and accepting it as it is

  • Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment, without having to seek or hold on to or reject anything. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • All the insight we will ever need to live well will come from fully being who and where we are. Brenda Shoshanna
  • Live in the presentAcceptance

Gain insight by being open minded

  • I understand that my way is not the only way – that inner peace comes from respecting the ways of others, and that, if I am open, I may gain great insights and happiness from the ideas and traditions of others. Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • Open-mindedness

Gain and communicate insight through humour

  • Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding. Agnes Repplier
  • Humor is the affectionate communication of insight. Leo Rosten
  • Mirth can be a major tool for insight, changing “ha-ha” to “aha”
  • Humour

Gain insight by stretching yourself

  • I personally have found that situations which have caused me to get out of my comfort zone the most, have actually led to powerful insights and drastic changes in my perceptions. Jason E. Marshall
  • Stretch your comfort zone

Gain insight through loving

  • Ultimately, it is only love that can give us insight into what is real and what is important. And so, a radical act of love makes sense—love for life and for the emergence of one’s truest self. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Love

Gain insight by observing excellence

  • Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary. Warren G. Bennis
  • Excellence

Gain and communicate insight through creativity and art

  • Art is a step from what is obvious toward what is concealed. Kahlil Gibran
  • Insight is the first condition of Art. George Henry Lewes
  • As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes. Marshall McLuhan
  • To the artist is sometimes granted a sudden, transient insight which serves in this matter for experience. A flash, and where previously the brain held a dead fact, the soul grasps a living truth! At moments we are all artists. Arnold Bennett
  • We cannot will to have insights. We cannot will to have creativity, but we can will to give ourselves to the creative experience with intensity of dedication and commitment. Rollo May
  • CreativityArt

Insight should be combined with action


Action should flow from insight for it to be truly useful

  • There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Insight without action is useless.
  • Insights + Action = True Growth and Development. Brad Swift
  • When pop psychology programs are successful in helping people, which they sometimes are, they succeed not because of the initial moment of insight but because they find ways to alter people’s behavior over the following months. They keep people involved with the program long enough to retrain the elephant. Jonathan Haidt
  • Action

Final thoughts


We need insight more than foresight and hindsight

  • May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far. Irish Blessings
  • In today’s complex and fast-moving world, what we need even more than foresight or hindsight is insight.