Nancy Meyers

What advice would you give your younger self? Tricks I wish I’d known earlier: go on more walks (even in the winter), buy a coat that is actually warm, truly listen to others. So, in the spirit of listening and learning, here are the wise words of 11 smart women…

“Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less… You will be able to go around the world, learning languages, speaking to everybody, because no one can be more human than you or be less human. They can be meaner or crueler, or sweeter or prettier, younger, richer, but they can’t be more human than you. Remember that.” — Maya Angelou

“Don’t worry so much about finding the answers and finding love and finding success. Just do your work. Live your life. Be kind. Be good. Pay your own electric bill. It’s going to turn out okay.” — Cheryl Strayed

“Stop with the self-tanner! It’s enough!” — Emma Stone

“Stop being so afraid! That’s really what strikes me when I look back — the sheer amount of time I spent tangled up in fears and doubts that were entirely of my own creation… Focus more on learning than on succeeding — instead of pretending that you understand something when you don’t, just raise your hand and ask a question. You’re a smart girl, and chances are if you’re confused, plenty of other students are too. And for heaven’s sake, let yourself really fail once in a while — not some tiny little mistakes here and there, but big, glaring, confidence-shaking, dark-night-of-the-soul-inducing failures. Understand that no one — especially folks who are truly successful — simply coasts from achievement to achievement. The most accomplished people in the world fail and fail big. That’s how they learn so much and grow so quickly and become so interesting and wise. In short, stop trying to be someone who will impress everyone else, and just focus on being and becoming fully, sincerely and passionately yourself.” — Michelle Obama

“If you don’t like the world the way it is, change it — one step at a time. Be prepared for how long change might take and how hard it will sometimes be. Always remember the quote you wrote in your diary after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak: ‘If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.’ ” — Marian Wright Edelman

“­Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.” — Margaret Atwood

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.” — Patti Smith

“You cannot predict everything. Yes, bad things will happen but they’re totally different bad things than you can imagine. Same with the wonderful things. So stop trying to predict and control the future, and enjoy the weird magic of right now.” — Lena Dunham

“INVEST FIFTY BUCKS IN THE STOCK MARKET EVERY MONTH!! You don’t need to eat out so much. Think of all that compound interest!” — Naomi Wolf

“Don’t take my advice, that’s the advice I would give you. Because the important thing is that you listen to the wisdom that’s inside yourself. Do what you love. Do what makes you forget what time it is when you’re doing it because you love it so much. Find your unique talents. And find the people who make you feel smart and make you feel good and hang out with them, because we all need that kind of support.” — Gloria Steinem

“Calm down.” — Nancy Meyers

P.S. Career advice from smart women, and thoughts on aging.

(Top photo of Nancy Meyers writing Private Benjamin, 1979. Via Instagram.)