Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards

10 Main Points of Søren Kierkegaard's Quote 'Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards But Lived Forward

The quote “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards” means we can only understand our life experiences by looking back on them. But we have to keep moving forward and living our lives in the present moment without knowing what will happen in the future. It’s important to think about the past to learn from it. But also to take action and make choices in the present moment that reflect our values and goals.

Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards Source

This well-known quote was by the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard from Denmark. He wrote it in the book ‘The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard’, which was not published as a standalone quote during his lifetime but after he died in 1838.

10 Main Points of Søren Kierkegaard’s Quote ‘Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards But Lived Forward


Søren Kierkegaard’s quote is a statement about the nature of human existence. And the importance of reflection in gaining understanding and meaning from our experiences. The quote has ten main points, which this article will explain one by one.

1- Reflection on past experiences shapes our present selves

The first point of Søre quote is that to really understand our lives and our role in the world, we need to think about the things that have happened to us in the past. And how they have affected who we are now. Because by reflecting on our experiences, we can get a better understanding of ourselves and the way we fit into the world.

2- Reflecting on the past also helps us learn from our mistakes and gain insights

The second point of Søre quote is that we can only really understand life by looking back on it. So we need to think about our past experiences and how they have influenced who we are today. To understand ourselves and our place in the world, we need to reflect on the things that have happened to us and how they have shaped our present.

3- Life happens in the present moment, where we make our choices and take action

The third point of Søre quote is that to really understand life, we need to look back on it. But, the most important part of life is living in the present moment and making choices that will shape our future. Although it’s important to think about the past, we can’t change it. We should focus on taking action now to create the life we want for ourselves.

4- Planning for the future is important, but too much focus on it can cause anxiety and uncertainty

The fourth point of Søre quote “Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards” is that if we focus too much on the future. We may become anxious and uncertain about disappointing reality

So it’s important to plan and have goals for the future. But obsessing over what is yet to come can be counterproductive and cause stress. We should strike a balance between planning for the future and living in the present moment.

5- Embrace the present to shape your life and find meaning

The fifth point of Søre quote is that we can find purpose and shape our own lives by living in the present moment and embracing the unknown. 

Even though life is unpredictable, we can create meaning by taking responsibility for our choices and actions. We should focus on what we can control and make choices that help us achieve our goals.

6- Control your life and choices but don’t let external factors influence them

The sixth point of Søre quote is that we should take responsibility for our own lives. And the choices we make, even though societal norms and cultural expectations may affect us. 

We shouldn’t let external factors dictate our lives. But we should make our own choices and take responsibility for them. Ultimately, we are in control of our own lives.

7- Life’s meaning is subjective and unique to each person

The seventh point of Søre quote “Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards” is that there is meaning to get in life, but it is different for everyone. 

The meaning of life is a personal and subjective experience that can’t have an easy definition or measure objectively. What is meaningful to one person may not be meaningful to another. It’s up to each individual to find their own purpose and meaning in life.

8- Your experiences and choices shape who you are in the present moment

The eighth point of Søre quote is that our past experiences and present choices shape who we are. Our experiences and the choices we make in the present moment shape our identity. And our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

So the person we are today is the result of our past experiences and the choices we have made. Our past experiences and the choices we make in the present shape our identity. And our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

9- Life is unpredictable and can be irrational and absurd at times

The ninth point of Søre quote is that life is unpredictable and can be irrational and absurd at times. Even though we may try to make sense of life and find order and rationality, life can still be full of unexpected twists and turns. We may encounter situations that seem irrational or absurd, but that’s just a part of life’s unpredictability.

Related- Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

10- Reflect on experiences, and create your own meaning in life through action

The ninth point of Søre quote “Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards” is that to understand the meaning of life, you must reflect on your own experiences. Visualize your highest self. And create your own meaning through personal reflection and action.

The meaning of life is something that each person must discover for themselves, rather than relying on external sources or societal expectations. By reflecting on our own experiences and taking action based on our own values. We can find our own sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards Quotes

  • “We can only understand life backwards, but we must live it forwards.” – Unknown
  • “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.” – Billy Wilder
  • “The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
  • “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein
  • “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – Dalai Lama
  • “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll


Author Tarannum Ali

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *