20 Fascinating Paradoxes About Life

What is a Paradox?

According to the Oxford dictionary, a paradox is a noun that has two meanings:

1. A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.

2. A person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I love paradoxes because they are sometimes funny and usually also quite insightful. Listening to the audiobook version of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu was like listening to one paradox after another. This was especially surprising to me, because it is an ancient book of wisdom. So a great paradox is much more than just a cliche, even though it can appear like that over time.

Below is a list of some of my favourites, starting with one from the Tao Te Ching:

  1. New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings” – Lao Tzu

young game match kids

2. “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone

3. “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than be loved for who I am not” – Kurt Cobain

hi haters scrabble tiles on white surface

4. “I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member.” – Groucho Marx

black steel welcome hanging signage

5. “You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” – Alice in Wonderland

woman holding teacup

6. “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” – Plato

man wearing brown jacket and using grey laptop

7. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

adventure cliff lookout people

8. “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviours.” – Stephen Covey

man in blue crew neck shirt staring at woman trying to lift barbell

9. “If you don’t risk anything you risk everything.” – Mark Zuckerberg

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10. “The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have.” – William Hazlitt

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise

11. “Only you can take responsibility for your happiness…but you can’t do it alone. It’s the great paradox of being human.” – Simon Sinek

group hand fist bump

12. “If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?” – George Carlin

man person street shoes

13. “Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” – Frank Herbert

red and blue hot air balloon floating on air on body of water during night time

14. “Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

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15. “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” ―Mahatma Gandhi

man person mountain hiker

16. “He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.”― Michel de Montaigne

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17. “A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” – Banksy

microphotography of orange and blue house miniature on brown snail s back

18. “If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?” ― Sam Harris

battle black blur board game

19. “Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” Tony Schwartz

two men assisting woman riding on swing

20. “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold onto it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.” – Socrates

bench cold dawn environment

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

Published by Dr Damon Ashworth

I am a Clinical Psychologist. I completed a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Monash University and a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences and a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences with Honours at La Trobe University. I am passionate about the field of Psychology, and apply the latest empirical findings to best help individuals meet their psychological and emotional needs.

29 thoughts on “20 Fascinating Paradoxes About Life

  1. “If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?” ― Sam Harris

    Personally, this one is my favourite. Great collection, loved it.

    Liked by 2 people

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