2013 has been a great year for commencement speeches. There were so many excellent snippets of advice for graduates this year, we decided to do another post highlighting the wisdom imparted upon the graduates of the Class of 2013. This round of quotes come from Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Joss Weadon, Ed Helms, and Katie Couric.
Media executive Arianna Huffington encouraged the graduates of Smith College to redefine success in unconventional ways. “Money and power by themselves are a two legged stool. You can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over. More and more people, successful people, are toppling over every day. Basically, success the way we’ve defined it is no longer sustainable.”
“Change it by going to the root of what’s wrong and redefining what we value and what we consider success. Find your place to stand – our place of wisdom and peace and strength…remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us – women and men – can live our lives with more grace, more job, more empathy, more gratitude, and yes, more love.”
Dr. Deepak Chopra spoke to the graduates of Hartwick College about the importance of wisdom, inner peace, and finding one’s purpose. “There can be no social or world transformation unless there is your own inner transformation. Today, I ask you to face a fundamental truth. Today, I ask you to consider that there is no “you” that is separate from the world. The gift of life, your own self-consciousness, is your key to inner transformation and wisdom, and that in turn is how you will transform the world.”
He continued, “Today, more than any other day, remember to be grateful. Gratitude opens the door to abundant consciousness. Express your gratitude today particularly to your parents, teachers and fellow students, all who have helped bring you to this threshold of life.”
TV host Katie Couric‘s address to Randolph Macon College focused on the little things that make life meaningful. “We are all terminal. You have to appreciate the gifts that every day of your life will bring. Your family. Your friends. A beautiful sky at sunset. A perfect ear of corn in August. The first snowfall of the year. A baby’s tiny hand. Be grateful for the time you have and savor the joy that comes your way. Look for those in-between moments…not big events, but the little ones when you’re laughing with a friend, taking a walk, helping an elderly neighbor with her groceries.”
“To all of you sitting here today: Don’t let ANYONE define who you are. Sweeping generalizations are unfair and misguided, and when they’re about entire generations they’re often just plain wrong. Think of yourselves as a painting by the great pointillist Georges Seurat. From a distance, you may appear to be a single image, but if you look more closely, you’ll see that image is made up of an infinite number of tiny dabs of paint. Each one of you is unique…and you’re the only ones who can define who you are or what you’ll become.”
Director and screenwriter Joss Whedon spoke to the graduates of his alma mater, Wesleyan College. He jokingly began by quoting Robert Frost, and continued with a stark statement: “You are all going to die.” He spoke of many contradictions: between body and mind, and life and death. “You have, which is a rare thing, the ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself. To at least give it the floor. Because it is the key, not only to consciousness, but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just “who you are,” it is a process that you must be active in.
“If you think happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. They will always be in conflict and if you accept that, everything gets a lot better!”
Actor Ed Helms entertained and inspired the graduates of Knox College, and spoke of the virtues of fear. “To understand why fear is good, one has to stop viewing fear as a feeling, emotion or behavioral command, and start looking at it simply as information. Fear is good because it is our brain’s way of identifying the things about which we are ignorant. Knowing this, we should look at our fear not as a reason to avoid the things that frighten us, but as a reason to engage them.”
“A life oriented toward discovery is infinitely more rewarding than a life oriented toward not blowing it. So don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”