25 Most Inspiring Michelle Obama Quotes
If you’re looking to add more inspiration, wisdom, or compassion to your life, look no further than these quotes from the former First Lady.
Advice that speaks to all of us
Michelle Obama needs no introduction…but we’ll give her a little one, anyway. As the wife of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, she was an accomplished First Lady—and the first African American First Lady—who focused on education, poverty, and healthy living for eight years in the White House. Before that, she worked as a lawyer, a city administrator in Chicago, and a community-outreach worker. And, of course, she’s also a mom to daughters Malia and Sasha. All that means she has a lot to say—and that she says it well. Read on to soak in some of Michelle Obama’s best quotes and infuse your life with a little bit of her wit, intelligence, and grace. Then check out her amazing sense of style in this list of the most gorgeous inaugural gowns worn by First Ladies.
On the importance of telling your story
In her 2018 memoir, Becoming, Michelle Obama tells her own story, and in doing so, encourages others to do the same, with inspiring quotes like this: “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” Her message? That each one of us is unique and that our history and experiences are things that no one can take away. We shouldn’t shy away from our stories and, instead, should embrace them—mistakes and all. Here are another 17 uplifting quotes that will stay with you.
On why everyone needs to get involved
Before serving as a U.S. senator, Barack Obama famously worked as a community organizer with his wife by his side. In her last speech as the First Lady, at a White House event honoring the 2017 School Counselor of the Year, Michelle Obama spoke about the importance of being an involved citizen. “You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms…. You need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation.” To demonstrate why she continues to be right, these human rights still aren’t universal, even though they should be.
On dealing with adversity
In a speech at the City College of New York in 2016, Michelle Obama shared stories of the hardships her own family faced when her father continued to work despite suffering from multiple sclerosis, explaining that adversity can actually make you stronger. “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage,” she said. “Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” Check out these true stories of people whose brain injuries gave them new abilities.
On overcoming hardship
It’s a tough but important fact of life: Life can be hard and, sometimes, unfair. But that doesn’t mean that it should stop you from moving forward. In fact, it should do the exact opposite. Michelle Obama offered this advice to new graduates during a commencement speech at Chicago’s King College Prep High School in 2015: “Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.” For more inspiration, check out these motivational quotes about success.
On being a good listener
Much of Michelle Obama’s popularity lies in her empathy and her ability to understand and care about people from all backgrounds. In Becoming, she reminds us of the importance of listening to others in order to better understand where people are coming from, writing, “There’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.” If you want to work on your listening skills, brush up on these 9 things all good listeners do during daily conversations.
On the company we keep
At a Glamour panel on the Power of an Educated Girl in 2015, she spoke about why it’s important to take great care when selecting the company we keep. “You have to fill your bucket with positive energy—and if you have people hanging around you that are bringing you down and not lifting you up, whether that’s your ‘boo’ or your best friend—you have to learn how to push these people to the side.” Here are 24 little things you can do to be a true friend.
On fear and decision-making
Another inspiring Michelle Obama quote from Becoming deals with the right way to make a decision—and the wrong way. “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear,” she says. “Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.” The results of those decisions, depending on what they are, affect not only our individual lives but also the world at large. Check out these inspiring women who are changing the lives of people around the world.
On rising above it all
In this age of divisive politics, it’s no wonder that this became one of Michelle Obama’s most famous quotes and a mantra for millions of people in United States. She spoke these memorable words, by the way, during her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. If you’re having one of those days in which this seems like tough advice to follow, here are some other inspiring quotes to get you through the morning.
On lifting up others
Michelle Obama believes in paying it forward. In her hopeful view of the world, that’s how you lift up others and truly make the world a better place. In Becoming, she writes, “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Here’s how one tiny town is embodying the spirit of that Michelle Obama quote and changing lives one house at a time.