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7 Best Calvin and Hobbes Quotes on the Meaning of Life

Do you remember and love Bill Watterson’s iconic Calvin & Hobbes comic strip? I know that my husband A.J. and I have long loved the world of the young boy Calvin and his stuffed Tiger, Hobbes. They manage to show us the world as it is - usually as they careen down a hill in a little red wagon or play a vigorous game of Calvin ball.

The insights they bring, even after multiple re-readings throughout the years have helped me sleep better at night and even feel like I can be a better human being.

In case you are unfamiliar with Calvin & Hobbes, the comic strip centres around a six-year-old boy named Calvin and his imaginary stuffed tiger named Hobbes. Together, this inseparable pair makes many observations about life, the state of the world, philosophy, and everything in between!

Calvin & Hobbes was first published on November 18, 1985 and could be found in over 2,400 different newspapers worldwide. Watterson retired in 1995, but his comics and their life lessons remain relevant!

Much more than a cartoon

In many ways, Calvin & Hobbes is much more than a cartoon. Through the endless adventures and observations of a witty child and a tiger duo, we learn important life lessons. Here are 7 quotes from Calvin and Hobbes about living in the moment and making the most of your days.

  1. “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” - Calvin

There have been numerous times that Calvin and Hobbes have reminded me to enjoy the present moment and everything it has to offer. I do believe in living in the moment, being present and making the most of what we have, but we all need some reminding after all.

One way that I have found to better live in the moment is through the practice of gratitude.

  1. “You never know how long you’ve got! You could step into the road tomorrow and – wham – you get hit by a truck! Then you’d be sorry you put off your pleasures!” – Calvin

Well, pretty graphic, but yes, it is true. This is the nature of living. We just don’t always get to choose our future. I really love the reminder that we need to embrace each day and its pleasures - not put them all off until “work slows down...or I have a bit of free time...or I have the energy to do it”...or whatever the excuse may be.

Let this quote remind us all to take time for ourselves each day to do something that we enjoy. Yes, it can be difficult to take a break from work and responsibilities, we don’t want to look back on life wishing we took more time for what matters. Making small daily pleasures a priority is a wonderful way to live well in the present.

  1. “I’m killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness.”- Calvin

This quote teaches us exactly what not to do! We certainly might find ourselves wishing the day, week, or month away. Whether you are looking forward to a specific event or simply waiting for something better to come along, like the end of the COVID pandemic, this can be a harmful practice, as we are missing out on the present.

It is worth the effort to manifest meaning and happiness in the present moment, because we all have the power to do so! The concept of meaning in work and life is summarized by the Japanese term Ikigai.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that only certain professions or work is where we find meaning. The key is to realize that we get to assign meaning to our actions. We can bring an understanding of the importance of our quality of work, our contributions in whatever we do. Whether that is serving a coffee to someone or grading a paper, doing the dishes or calling up an old friend. Each action of our days can be meaningful when we approach them that way.

  1. “Wow. Look at the grass stains on my skin. I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”- Calvin

I love this idea of living life full-out. Giving your all, with a big huge grin on your face as you do it. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about loving the game! To me this means, don’t get lost in routine.

It can be so easy to find ourselves in a rut, not tackling life as a new adventure each day. Even something as small, like trying out a new recipe can help brighten your day. Life is full of adventures and opportunities for us to take advantage of. If your metaphorical knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you haven’t taken advantage of the grassy fields and hills available to you!

  1. “I've been thinking Hobbes"
    "On a weekend?"
    "Well, it wasn't on purpose”- Calvin & Hobbes

This is such a funny reminder to let your mind take a break! Daydreaming, and immersing in something completely different from your work or regular thoughts is really good for us!

Not every moment has to be productive. Taking time off, and having a proper rest from work is so good for us and for our work productivity! Taking evenings and weekends off to relax, socialize, pursue a hobby, bake, connect with your spouse are all really important for us. And it helps us to be more productive when we need to be.

  1. “Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.”- Calvin

Despite doing our best to live in the moment and make the most out of every situation, it is important to keep in mind that life doesn’t always go the way we wish it would or had planned. No one plans to have 2 different cancers in their 40s. I sure didn’t.

But this quote reminds me that there are ups and downs, and all we can do is to keep walking the terrain in front of us. The ups and downs are all a part of the human experience.

This understanding is one of the foundations of my meditation practice. You can learn more about how to meditate and gain benefits of the practice here.

  1. “It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy... Let's go exploring!"- Calvin

I truly believe it is a magical world, full of vast beauty, the wonders of nature and the kindness of humans and animals. I love exploring it every single day.

Exploring may mean spending more time being active outside in nature gaining the health, wellbeing, and social benefits it has to offer! Or it might mean getting to know your neighbour a little better or spending time with an animal in need of care.

Of course, exploring can mean travel, but it could also mean getting to know our own city, our neighbourhood or our inner world of creativity. There is an abundance of places out there and in our own selves that are worth spending time exploring.

So, thank you Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes for these wonderful lessons on life and meaning. You are worth revisiting for your gentle reminders on the meaning of life.

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