A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

17 Stephen Hawking Quotes That Might Lead You to the Meaning of Life

Stephen Hawking is widely regarded as one of the greatest scientists in modern history, but he also had an incredible way with words.

1 / 17
on despair
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On despair

“Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up—there’s a way out.” —BBC Reith Lecture, January 2016

2 / 17
on laughter
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On laughter

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.” —New York Times interview, December 2004

3 / 17
on giving life meaning
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On giving life meaning

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” —ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, June 2010.

4 / 17
on imperfection
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On imperfection

“Without imperfection, you or I would not exist.” —Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking on the Discovery Channel in 2010

5 / 17
on opportunity
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On opportunity

“Most of the threats we face come from the progress we’ve made in science and technology. We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must recognize the dangers and control them. I’m an optimist, and I believe we can.” —RadioTimes Q&A, January 2016

6 / 17
on perseverance
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On perseverance

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” —Cambridge symposium, January 2012. Here are 50 more inspirational quotes to lift your mood.

7 / 17
on high spirits
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On high spirits

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” —New York Times interview, December 2004

8 / 17
on how to live
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On how to live

“We should seek the greatest value of our action.” —The Guardian interview, May 2011. Inspired by these Stephen Hawking quotes? Here are 16 quotes to remind you to be grateful every day.

9 / 17
on aggression
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On aggression

“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.” —Science Museum tour speech, February 2015

10 / 17
on research
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On research

“Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.” —A Brief History of Time, 1998. For more wisdom like these Stephen Hawking quotes, check out these other 30 great lines from the most quotable books ever written.

11 / 17
on hardships
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On hardships

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.” —New York Times Q&A, May 2011. Now that these Stephen Hawking quotes have encouraged you, here are 27 more hope quotes to lift your spirits.

12 / 17
on death
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On death

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.” —The Guardian interview, May 2011

13 / 17
on having fun
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On having fun

“Just because I do a lot of thinking doesn’t mean I don’t like parties and getting into trouble.” —RadioTimes Q&A, January 2016.

14 / 17
on humility
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On humility

“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” —New York Times interview, December 2004

15 / 17
on life's problems
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On life’s problems

“While physics and mathematics may tell us how the universe began, they are not much use in predicting human behavior because there are far too many equations to solve. I’m no better than anyone else at understanding what makes people tick, particularly women.” —Time Q&A, November 2010

16 / 17
on the american spirit
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On the American spirit

“There is more enthusiasm for everything in America.” —New York Times interview, December 2004. Don’t miss these “dream big” quotes to inspire you to aim high.

17 / 17
on experience
Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

On experience

“Only in the few universes that are like ours would intelligent beings develop and ask the question: ‘Why is the universe the way we see it?’ The answer is then simple: If it had been any different, we would not be here!” —A Brief History of Time, 1998. Now that you’ve been heartened by these Stephen Hawking quotes, check out these 21 motivational quotes that will help you reach success.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.