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Charles Bukowski, an American author, poet, short story writer, and novelist who shared his unfiltered views and opinions with the world on everything in life, from art to death. He was a renowned and prolific writer, often depicting the experiences of the downtrodden and depraved people of American urban life, and he provided plenty of great tips on how to spend your days.

Here are some of the greatest Charles Bukowski quotes about life and how I interpreted them to be more useful for me to kickstart my success.


01. “I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

Great start of this list with this one about dreaming big. Don’t be satisfied to easily. Always raise your standards to want more than what you currently have. Never feel OK, feel grateful for what you already have but you need to grow. You can forget the “or nothing” part that Charles Bukowski talks about, because wanting nothing is not an option. Everybody has theirs dreams, and everybody should pursue them.


02. “What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death.”

The most heard regret on death beds is the one of regretting not doing something. Lot of people are afraid of following their dreams and really following through on doing what they want themselves. Everybody is afraid of failure, the fear of putting everything on the line and not making it.

Having to accept their failure when they didn’t make it and start over, trying it again. It is much easier not to stick your head out and not standing out of the crowd. But if you want to live your life on your own terms, in the way you want it, you’re going to need to step up and create it yourself.


03. “Find what you love and let it kill you.”

It is important that you find what you love doing in your life. If you’re still not clear about that you should keep looking for it. Eventually you’ll find it and your life will be so much more worth if you can do want you really want.

If you’ve found what you love doing the most you should let it kill you. Not by taking uncalculated risks that might cost your life, that’s not what Charles Bukowski meant. But by giving it all of your attention and effort to make it in that field. Try to make a living by doing what you love and do that for the rest of your life, until death.


04. “Who the hell said you no longer had it in you?”

One of the main reasons of not following through on your goals is because of the stories you tell yourself of why you can’t do it or why you won’t make it. You learned most of those stories by things other people have put in your head. You have formed your world based on what you’ve learned from other people throughout your life.

If you always were around people that felt OK and never chased their dreams, chances are that you will not easily change that behavior. That’s why it is important to surround yourself with people that motivate you and can help you achieve what you want.


05. “People are strange: They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.”

Most people can be so focused on the smallest things in life and make these far more important than they really are. Often these minor things can become the middle of a heated argument that will be forgotten the next day.

Meanwhile they’re not even aware of the major things in life that really are important. They don’t notice that it is important to learn about life, health, love and finance to be able to improve those areas. These are the things that will be there for the rest of your life. They will also impact on how you feel about your life. You can’t get these things straight overnight, you’re going to need to give attention to them every single day. And in time they’ll grow in the way that you want them to be.


06. “My ambition is handicapped by laziness”

At least Charles Bukowski is honest to himself about being handicapped by his laziness. Which is the case for the majority of the people, although they won’t recognize it and certainly won’t be honest about it. Laziness is the biggest dream killer in the world.

It is hard work to get out of bed early every day and go after your dreams. It is hard work to put in the time to get things done and to say no to friends and family because you have more important things to do. But by being lazy and not putting in the hard work you’ll get nowhere. If you want to live a meaningful life you are going to need to get of the couch and start working.


07. “You have to die a few times before you can really live.”

Everybody is afraid of failure and everybody wants to be loved. But to become successful you are going to fail a lot of times before you get there. You can work all the hours of the day and put in all the time to get there, but there will be times that it won’t be enough.

You will be held back by a lot of things on your path to success. You will die a few times before you get there. It are those that keep getting back up that will make it to the end. Those are the ones that become successful and live their dream lives. Never let setbacks and your struggle hold you back from pursuing your dreams.


08. “I never met another man I’d rather be. And even if that’s a delusion, it’s a lucky one.”

The ultimate success in life is living it on your own terms and doing the things you want. You need to be true to yourself to be really happy in life. Be honest with yourself and to others about who you are and what you want. Be proud of who you are, the world needs people who feel good and alive.


09. “Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside…remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”

Never let a bad day hold you back from following through. Remind yourself of the times that you did go for it and you did make it. Focus on your goals and know that you’re going to make it. Don’t doubt your own strengths. A good way to kickstart your days is by having a morning routine that will help you get ready for every challenge of that day.


10. “There are worse things than being alone but it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late.”

It is good to have time for yourself and reflect on your day, your life and dreams. Too bad that most people don’t feel comfortable being in solitude. While this can be the time for yourself, to really think about what is happening around you. Don’t be afraid to be alone, treasure some me-time every day where you take a moment to reflect your life. Think about what you are grateful for in life and what you want to achieve.


11. “It’s so easy to be easy-if you let it.”

If you are easy on life, it will be easy for you as well. Learn to focus on the right things in life and do the right things every day. Do the things that are important to you, give love and respect to others.




What Charles Bukowski quote would you want to add to this list?

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