139 Past Quotes Celebrating What You’ve Learned

Looking for wise past quotes that will make you a better person?

We can all learn a lot from our pasts.

For us to live life to the fullest in the present, we must be prepared to ask the right questions about our pasts.

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, reflecting on past experiences and learning from them can lead to improved mental health and well-being.

This highlights the importance of looking back on our past and using those experiences to inform our present and future.

The past is there for you to study and learn from it so that you can make your future better.

You can use your past experiences to become more effective, more productive, and even wiser.

For you to understand what’s happening in your present and before you decide what will happen in your future, try and reflect on your past.

Recall your strengths from the past and learn from the weaknesses that frustrate you.

But although many people tend to live defined by their past choices, you should not let it hold you back.

Always remember that each new day brings an opportunity for you to create a brighter future.

The past is filled with learning opportunities for our present and future.

In that respect, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and thought-provoking past quotes, past sayings, and past proverbs, collected from a variety of sources over the years.

For more inspiration, don’t miss our compilation of the best quotes about life as well as these wise Wizard of Oz quotes.

If you enjoy this article, check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily motivation. 

If you want more motivational quotes, check out our motivational quotes category page.

Wise Past Quotes Celebrating What Life Taught Us

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that individuals who engage in self-reflection are more likely to experience personal growth and increased life satisfaction.

This suggests that taking time to reflect on past experiences can lead to positive changes in our lives.

1. “The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.” ― Kiran Desai

wise past quotes celebrating what life taught us

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2. “Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ― Cormac McCarthy

past quotes about scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real

3. “Every relationship must have a starting point so that past errors may remain in the past.” ― Mary Lydon Simonsen

past quotes about relationship

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4. “The past does not define me, it ignites me. The past is not a piece of me, it has placed me” ― Ricky Maye

Wise Past Quotes Celebrating What Life Taught Us

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5. “When you accept things as they are, you allow yourself to make choices, that will help create the change you seek.” ― Patricia Dsouza

past quotes about when you accept things as they are

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6. “You couldn’t erase the past. You couldn’t even change it. But sometimes life offered you the opportunity to put it right.” ― Ann Brashares

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7. “The hardships that I encountered in the past will help me succeed in the future.” – Philip Emeagwali

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8. “Today I am leading because yesterday I was reading.” ― Amit Kalantri

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9. “If we wish to see where our future is headed, all we need to do is have a look at our past and that will tell us all the answers.” ― Anthony T. Hincks

past quotes about if we wish to see where our future is headed

10. “When I think of what I already lived through it seems to me I was shedding my bodies along the paths.” ― Clarice Lispector

past quotes about thinking

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Past quotes that will make you a better person

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 66% of respondents said that they had learned valuable lessons from past mistakes or failures.

This highlights the prevalence of learning from past experiences and the potential for growth and improvement.

11. “When the uncertain future becomes the past, the past, in turn, becomes uncertain” ― Mohsin Hamid

past quotes that will make you a better person

12. “Don’t torture yourself over the past. Use it as a teacher. Whatever happened to you in the past, has only prepared you for now.” ― Robert Tew

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13. “The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.” ― H.G. Wells

past quotes about the past is but the beginning of a beginning

14. “I saw this was the way of the future, to leave the past behind as if it were a dream.” ― Alice Hoffman

Past quotes that will make you a better person

15. “You know that old phrase ‘Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it’? Well, I think those who remember the past are even worse off.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

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16. “It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us…on the inside, looking out.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer

past quotes that everything is illuminated in the light of the past

17. “Walk with me, memory to memory, the shared path, the mutual view. Walk with me. The past lies in wait. It is not behind. It seems to be in front. How else could it trip me as I start to run?” ― Jeanette Winterson

past quotes about walking with me

18. “History would be a revelation of the future as much as it was a study of the past.” ― Arundhati Roy

past quotes about history

19. “The past is a demon that not even death can shake.” ― Steven Erikson

past quotes about the past is a demon that not even death can shake

20. “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”― George Santayana

past quotes about those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it

Past quotes to help increase your awareness and understanding

21. “The distance to the corner shops of childhood becomes unfathomable, immeasurable; the candy bars have changed. And change has changed.” ― Ilse Aichinger

past quotes to help increase your awareness and understanding

22. “What a burden it must be to know all the terrible things you’ve done and supported it with arms unfit to carry it all.” ― K. Weikel

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other past quotes

23. “The past, which as always did not know the future, acted in ways that ask to be imagined before they are condemned. Or even simplified.” ― Paul Fussell

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24. “If you do not cultivate your life’s environment, you will not captivate the worlds enlightenment.” ― Ricky Maye

past quotes about life

25. “What you had yesterday is only memories; what you will have tomorrow is your dreams and what you will do today, let it be love.” ― Santosh Kalwar

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26. “Why ruin the present by talking about the past?” ― Victor Robert Lee

Past quotes to help increase your awareness and understanding

27. “Provide for her Future—if you can!—That’s my motto!—But a man’s just a plain bum who doesn’t provide for his own Past!” ― Eleanor Hallowell Abbot

past quotes about the future

28. “We cannot change the past. We can only take action in the present and, therefore, change the future.” ― Ken Poirot

past quotes about we can not change the past

29. “I can’t. You can’t rewrite the past.” ― Jay Asher

30. “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” ― Golda Meir

Wise past quotes to help you learn from your mistakes

31. “Bitterness and blame only imprison us and prevent us from moving forward.” ― Miquel Reina

32. “You cannot build an empire on a graveyard. The ghosts of the past will it down.” ― Shreya Naik

33. “Love can only be true and free when you are fully healed from painful past and any form of brokenness.” ― Kemi Sogunle

34. “Leaders build the future with clays of the past. Every good moment gives them ideas; every bad moment gives them lessons.” ― Israelmore Ayivor

35. “It was strange how the future seemed tied inseparably to the past, so that both revolved through the present, like a great wheel…” ― Tad Williams

36. “If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” ― Mercedes Lackey

37. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Wise past quotes to help you learn from your mistakes

38. “Everything you think you know or feel is based on an attachment to the past.” ― Akiroq Brost

39. “If it’s over, then don’t let the past screw up the rest of your life.” ― Nicholas Sparks

40. “People tend to look on the beliefs of the past as being primitive and unintelligent, yet we are seeing more truth in the past every day.” ― Jennifer L

More inspirational past quotes

41. “The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.” ― Shannon L. Alder

42. “Where you come from, what you look like, and what your past holds do not define you as an individual–you are what you make yourself to be.” ― Kat Von D

43. “How can we prepare for the future if we won’t acknowledge the past?” ― N.K. Jemisin

44. “It was no good to look back, to apologize for what had happened, or to wonder what could have been different.” ― Lily Blake

45. “People from the past have a tendency to walk back into the present and run over the future.” ― Anthony Liccione

inspirational past quotes

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46. “Of this I am certain, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” ― Winston S. Churchill

47. “Even if you time travel your past, it can’t be changed, likewise, you can’t possibly change your future, it is always the present which matters.” ― Pushpa Rana

48. “Life’s all about balance. To move on in life you have to strike a balance between your past, present, and your future; you may either be jerked off or left behind.” ― Richmond Akhigbe

49. “Everyone has a story; everyone hides his past as a means of self-preservation. Some just do it better, and more thoroughly, than others.” ― Jodi Picoult

50. “The past is important for all the information and wisdom it holds. But you can get lost in it. You’ve got to learn to keep the knowledge of the past with you as you pursue the present.” ― Lauren Kate

Wise past quotes to help you move forward

51. “The past beats inside me like a second heart.” -John Banville

52. “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”  -Rick Warren

53. “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  -Jane Austen

54. “My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”  -Steve Maraboli

55. “My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment…What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” -Steve Goodier 

56. “Our past may explain why we’re suffering but we must not use it as an excuse to stay in bondage.”  -Joyce Meyer

57. “If you have a past with which you feel dissatisfied, then forget it, now.”  -Paulo Coelho

58. “I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.” -Margaret Atwood

59. “This is the past: It drifts, it gathers. If you are not careful, it will bury you.”  -Lauren Oliver

60. “The past is never where you think you left it.”  -Katherine Anne Porter

Wise past quotes about lessons learned 

61. “This year has been full of lessons learned and soul searching and realizing I’m an adult. It’s time to take responsibility and not take the easy way out.” -Nicole Richie

62. “The biggest lessons I learned were probably the times where I had the biggest setbacks and the biggest challenges – when I had the biggest jumps forward and lessons learned.” -Michelle Kwan

63. “I believe that nothing is more important to our ability to effectively address our present than understanding the lessons learned from those who have come before us.” -Charlie Gonzalez

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64. “When life brings you full circle, pay attention. There’s a lesson there.”  -Mandy Hale

65. “The past is your lessons learned.” -James Hauenstein

66 “The mixture of pain and anger, from past experiences, are the most sincere colors to create new horizons on my canvas.”  -Efrat Cybulkiewicz 

67. “As I’d found time and again throughout my life—and would continue to find—you do what you can, say your prayers, and hope for the best.”  -Dick Van Dyke

68. “Living is a process of developing oneself. Without experiencing pain from disconcerting periods of our lives, we would be different person, perhaps a lesser person.”  -Kilroy J. Oldster

69. “Even a spineless anthropod sheds what’s no longer useful and leaves it behind them. Are you not greater than they?”  -Jason Versey 

70. “Examination of our past is never time-wasting. Reverberations from the past provide learning rubrics for living today.”  -Kilroy J. Oldster

Wise past quotes on how not to dwell on it

71. “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.” – Roy T. Bennett

72. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” – Bil Keane

73. “When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

74. “Keep in mind that people change, but the past doesn’t.” – Becca Fitzpatrick

75. “We cannot change our past. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” – Charles R. Swindoll

76. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson

77. You can never plan the future by the past.” – Edmund Burke

78. “If you are carrying strong feelings about something that happened in your past, they may hinder your ability to live in the present.” – Les Brown

79. I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.” – Lewis Carroll

80. “One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.” – Gaston Bachelard

Past quotes on how to live in the moment

81. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell

82. “If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” – Roy T. Bennett

83. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

84. “The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

85. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

86. “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment.” – Maya Angelou

87. “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

88. “One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good.” – Gretchen Rubin

89. “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.” – Thomas S. Monson

90. “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.” – Denis Waitley

Wise Past Quotes To Focus On Your Future

91. “Love your past for the lessons it has given you, but don’t hover there. Turn and greet your future by facing forward.” — Beverly M. Breakey

92. “Inspire yourself with inspiration to let go of the past, inspire yourself with inspiration to move forward from what you’ve once had.” — Black Barbie

93. “The wisest judgments take into account all your errors, all the mistakes of the past, and everything you have learned from them.” — Gerard I. Nierenberg

94. “We must accept the past for what it is – the past.” — Gerry Reid

95. “If you live your life to the fullest each day, the past won’t matter, and the future will take care of itself.” — Judd Biasiotto

96. “After you learn from your past, let go of it.” — Juli J. McFarland

97. “Learn from the past, but do not stay there.” — Izell Kirkpatrick

98. “My hope comes in knowing that though the past cannot be erased, it can be dealt with, and lived with, and then left behind.” — Deborah Roberts

99. “By faith you must learn from your past, build upon your past, and do better than you did in the past.” — Jerry Falwell

100. “Be compassionate with yourself and let go of judgment about past choices.” — Lauren E. Sullivan

Wise Past Quotes To Help You Move On With Life

101. “Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.” ― Sarah Dessen

102. “Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition.” ― William Osler

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103. “Happiness is the ability to move forward, knowing the future will be better than the past.” ― Zig Ziglar

104. “Whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it.” ― Barack Obama

105. “The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.” ― Mignon McLaughlin

106. “The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.” ― Cyril Connolly

107. “The one charm of the past is that it is the past.” ― Oscar Wilde

108. “The past is a bucket of ashes.” ― Carl Sandburg

109. “The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.” ― Alan Moore

110. “Events in the past may be roughly divided into those which probably never happened and those which do not matter.” ― William Ralph Inge

Wise Past Quotes To Learn From Your Past

111. “Dwelling on the past only blinds you to the future.” — Andrew Boyd

112. “Learn form the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” — Denis Waitley

113. “Study the past if you would divine the future.” — Confucius

114. “No matter what happened to you in your past, you are not your past, you are the resources and the capabilities you glean from it. And that is the basis for all change.” — Jordan Belfort

115. “Sometimes in order to be happy in the present moment you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past.” — Robert Holden

116. “The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not worshipped; it is our future in which we will find our greatness.” — Pierre Trudeau

117. “Your past is important, but it is not nearly as important to your present as the way you see your future.” — Tony Campolo

118. “The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated into a contemporary antagonism known as the generation gap.” — Spiro T. Agnew

119. “There is a way to look at the past. Don’t hide from it. It will not catch you — if you don’t repeat it.” — Pearl Bailey

120. “When the past is forgotten, the present is unforgettable.” — Martin Amis

Wise Past Quotes To Motivate You Towards Constructive Actions

121. “The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.” ― Barbara Taylor Bradford

122. “We don’t have to be defined by the things we did or didn’t do in our past. Some people allow themselves to be controlled by regret. Maybe it’s a regret, maybe it’s not. It’s merely something that happened. Get over it.” ― Pittacus Lore

123. “I met a boy whose eyes showed me that the past, present and future were all the same thing.” ― Jennifer Elisabeth

124. “Bring the past only if only you are going to build from it.” — Domenico Cieri Estrada

125. “The past explains how I got here, but the future is up to me – and I love to live life at full throttle.” — Janice Dickinson

126. “Prying into the past won’t get us anywhere. The problem lies in the future, or to be more accurate, in the present.” — Mitsubishi Keizai Kenkyūjo

127. “The past is a stepping stone, not a millstone.” — Robert Plant

128. “I like to use the hard times in the past to motivate me today.” — Dwayne Johnson

129. “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. ” — Anthony Robbins

130. “You see, The Law of Attraction is a matter of focusing upon today and letting go of the past.” — J. M. Edwards

131. “I don’t think much about guys from the past. I’m glad I knew them, but there’s a reason they didn’t make it into my future.” ― Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

132. “The fact that you made worse decisions in the past shouldn’t be an excuse to make bad decisions in the present.” ― Sanhita Baruah

133. “From one moment to another memory steps back to rediscover the past.” ― Munia Khan

134. “I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” ― Alan Wilson Watts

135. “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” ― Oscar Wilde

136. “The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.” ― Bill Cosby

137. “Everyone has a past, but that’s just it–it’s in the past. You can learn from it, but you can’t change it.” ― Nicholas Sparks

138. “A medicine cat has no time for doubt. Put your energy into today and stop worrying about the past.” ― Erin Hunter

139. “You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past. You cannot use cruelty against yourself to justify cruelty to others.” ― Marie Lu

What did you learn from these past quotes?

As human beings we can only ever learn from the past.

Looking at the past can teach us valuable lessons that will help us make the most of the present we are living in today.

Although you should never let your past define you, you should equally not forget the potential it offers for the present and the future.

We hope the above quotes will help you find and use the treasure hidden in the past.

Which of these past quotes was your favorite?

What did you learn from them?

Let us in the comment section below.

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