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70 Quotes about the Past

quotes-about-the-past-smThe past is an interesting thing. Looking back can provide great memories, help you learn from mistakes and move forward, and ultimately shape your future. But focus too long on your past and you face the risk of not living in the moment. Even worse, it could hinder your future.

Quotes about the past help us see that period of time for what it is. You should never forget the years prior; instead, use them to grow and live a better tomorrow.

Many wise men and woman have chimed in over the years on the topic. Here are 70 noteworthy quotes about the past we hope you enjoy.

Quotes about the Past

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana

The past is a stepping stone, not a millstone.
Robert Plant

Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
Vladimir Nabokov

Forgiveness means letting go of the past.
Gerald Jampolsky

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

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.
Andre Maurois

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
Alex Haley

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
Lewis B. Smedes

Look back, and smile on perils past.
Walter Scott

Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day.
Rachel Boston

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.
Bil Keane

Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.
Mattie Stepanek

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.
Corrie Ten Boom

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.
William Wordsworth

Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future.
Swami Sivananda

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.
George Washington

What matters is to live in the present, live now, for every moment is now. It is your thoughts and acts of the moment that create your future. The outline of your future path already exists, for you created its pattern by your past.
Sai Baba

The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.
Stephen Hawking

It’s great to reminisce about good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. So learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later.
George Foreman

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. 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

In this bright future you can’t forget your past.
Bob Marley

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.
Bernard Meltzer

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.
Mary Pickford

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
Thomas Jefferson

It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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

We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.
George Santayana

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. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.
Maya Angelou

I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
Patrick Henry

Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.
Tryon Edwards

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 Watts

We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment.
Chanakya

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
Frederick Douglass

Study the past, if you would divine the future.
Confucius

What is past is prologue.
William Shakespeare

Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.
Marcus Aurelius

The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting, animating and stirring to action.
Felix Adler

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

I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is.
Donald Trump

Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.
Dale Turner

For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy

There is always tension between the possibilities we aspire to and our wounded memories and past mistakes.
Sean Brady

The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

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

The past is the beginning of the beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.
H. G. Wells

The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.
Jessamyn West

Forget the past – the future will give you plenty to worry about.
George Allen, Sr.

No man is rich enough to buy back his past.
Oscar Wilde

There’s no present. There’s only the immediate future and the recent past.
George Carlin

Forget the past.
Nelson Mandela

Living in the past or living in the future – those aren’t real. The moment is now, and that’s where safety and comfort and all that good stuff is.
Marc Jacobs

The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.
Zora Neale Hurston

History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
John F. Kennedy

The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.
Mick Jagger

If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.
Baruch Spinoza

You can’t undo the past…but you can certainly not repeat it.
Bruce Willis

Fear not for the future, weep not for the past.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things – not the great occasions – that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.
Bob Hope

While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future.
Ronald Reagan

The past is never the past. It is always present. And you better reckon with it in your life and in your daily experience, or it will get you. It will get you really bad.
Bruce Springsteen

People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.
Eckhart Tolle

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

Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.
Leonardo da Vinci

The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.
Doris Kearns Goodwin

The best prophet of the future is the past.
Lord Byron

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.
Deepak Chopra

Even God cannot change the past.
Agathon

 

Quotes about the past are great reminders of what has been and also what could be. Use them to live in the present and shape a brilliant future.

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