The Light We Carry: Quotes by Michelle Obama

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Are you looking for The Light We Carry quotes by Michelle Obama? What are some of the most noteworthy passages worth revisiting?

In her book The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama writes that the best way to live up to your potential to create positive change is to nurture your unique abilities, strengths, and perspectives and share them with the world. Obama implies that these traits form your fundamental core—the “light” referenced in the title.

Below is a selection of quotes from Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times

In The Light We Carry, former US First Lady Michelle offers her insights and reflections on change, power, and character. Throughout her life, and especially during her tenure as First Lady of the United States, Obama has experienced many kinds of hardship and uncertainty, such as facing racism from the press. Through these experiences, she developed what she calls a “toolbox” of ways to regain her equilibrium and continue to face life with hope and a determination to change the world for the better. Obama described some of these experiences in her first book Becoming, but she wanted to go more into depth about her toolbox in The Light We Carry with the hope that it could help other people create their own.

The following The Light We Carry quotes highlight some of the key ideas from the book:

“I believe that each of us carries a bit of inner brightness, something entirely unique and individual. A flame that’s worth protecting. When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it. When we learn to foster what’s unique in the people around us, we become better able to build compassionate communities and make meaningful change.”

Obama writes that everyone has the potential to improve the world in a way others can’t since everyone has unique abilities, strengths, and perspectives. Since our potentials are unique, Obama believes we have a responsibility to fulfill them: No one else can fulfill your unique potential to create positive change, so you must do so.

“When we allow ourselves to celebrate tiny victories as important and meaningful, we start to understand the incremental nature of change—how one vote can help change our democracy; how raising a child who is whole and loved can help change a nation; how educating one girl can change a whole village for the better.”

Obama stresses celebrating even small progress. By doing so, you can recognize the steps you’ve made toward your goals, increasing feelings of success. In addition, understanding how much you’ve advanced helps you determine how to succeed further.

Embrace gradual progress by setting small, manageable goals. Obama stresses that these tasks should be easy to fulfill so you’re almost guaranteed to succeed in meeting them and thus feel a sense of satisfaction and confidence. These goals can be as small as making your bed or attending a town meeting. Over time, these small steps compound to create large change.

“Our hurts become our fears. Our fears become our limits. For many of us, this can be a heavy inheritance, carried by generations. It’s a lot to try to push back against, to try to unlearn.”

According to Obama, fear is one of the biggest obstacles to nurturing and sharing your unique personhood with the world. Fear stops people from taking action or living up to their potential for positive change. This is because fear is a reaction to the potential of loss, and people don’t want to lose what they already have by striving for something better.

Obama experienced this fear when her husband Barack Obama told her he wanted to run for president. Her husband believed he’d be a wonderful president, but she didn’t want to lose the stable life they’d built in Chicago or risk the entire country disrespecting them. If she hadn’t overcome this fear, it could’ve prevented the Obamas from nurturing and sharing their personhoods and creating change on a national scale.

The Light We Carry: Quotes by Michelle Obama

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Light We Carry summary:

  • Michelle Obama's advice on fulfilling your potential in life
  • The benefits of nurturing and sharing your unique abilities and strengths
  • How to overcome the obstacles to reaching your potential and creating change

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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