24 Pieces of Life Advice From Famous, Painfully Awesome Women

Looking for life advice from famous women? You're in the right place! Click through for life advice from writers, musicians, actors, and politicians!

If you guys remember my encounter with Richard Simmons, you know that I can never, ever be trusted to interact with people I admire and respect.

(a week after Richard touched my hair and made me cry, I stood in line behind Dave Eggers at a coffee shop in Silverlake. And didn’t say anything because I can’t be trusted not to cry/faint/swoon/blather.)

But, like everyone, there are some amazing people I’d love to befriend and whose life advice I covet. Since I can’t/won’t ever drink a vodka gimlet with these ladies, I’ve gathered up some great advice from them and I’m going to pretend it’s directed at me and my life in particular. You are welcome to do the same.

Life advice from Michelle Obama

  • Do not bring people into your life who weigh you down. 
  • You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.
  • Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own. Share on X
  • Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.

Life advice from Anne Lamott

  • It's good to do uncomfortable things. It's weight training for life. Share on X
  • Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are. 
  • It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do. 
  • Joy is the best makeup.

Life advice from Dolly Parton

  • Find out who you are and do it on purpose. Share on X
  • I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else. 
  • I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde. 
  • If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one. 
  • You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try. 

Life Advice From Tina Fey

  • Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.
  • If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares? Share on X
  • Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it. 
  • So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you. 
  • Lesson learned? When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.

 Life advice from Amy Poehler

  • You deserve love and you’ll get it. 
  • As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. 
  • Don’t treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used. And don’t try to give me that nerd argument that your heart is a ‘Batman’ with a limited-edition silver bat-erang and therefore if it stays in its original packing it increases in value.
  • The earlier you learn that you should focus on what you have, and not obsess about what you don't have, the happier you will be. Share on X
  • Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ 
  • I cannot stress enough that the answer to life’s questions is often in people’s faces. Try putting your iPhones down once in a while, and look in people’s faces. People’s faces will tell you amazing things. Like if they are angry, or nauseous or asleep.

Who are you imaginary celebrity BFFs? And what are some of the best, smartest things they’ve said? 

P.S. That time I saw Dolly in person! Twice!

photo credit ny times, mbird, pop sugar

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  1. Amy Elizabeth

    I'm right there with you – if I could make Tina Fey and Amy Poehler my celebrity BFFs, I think my life would be complete (although I think Tina would be weirded out that I called my cat after her…).

    I'd also love to hang out with Emma Stone. One quote of hers that I love is 'You only live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damned red velvet cupcake' because that is basically my life philosophy. Maybe not a healthy one, but a happy one!

  2. Kathleen Shannon

    My favorite quote is from Kathleen Hanna about Beyoncé (two women I wish were my besties:

    Beyoncé isn’t Beyoncé because she reads comments on the internet. Beyoncé is in Ibiza, wearing a stomach necklace, walking hand in hand with her hot boyfriend. She’s going on the yacht and having a mimosa. She’s not reading shitty comments about herself on the internet, and we shouldn’t either. I just think, Would Beyoncé be reading this? No, she would just delete it, or somebody would delete it for her. What I really need to do is close the computer and then talk back to that voice and say, Fuck you. I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m Beyoncé. I’m going to Ibiza with Jay-Z now, fuck off. Being criticized is part of the job, but seeking it out isn’t. That’s our piece to let go.

    • ashlie

      "Would Beyonce be reading this?" might be my new touchstone.

    • Kate M

      OMG, "Would Beyonce be reading this?" is my new motto as well. Love it!!

  3. Sarah M

    Gosh I love Anne Lamott. I had never heard her 'toolbox' quote.
    Sarah m

  4. Steampunk Suzy

    Hi Sarah I started reading this wonderful article but got distracted as the lines cut off at the end. Is there a way in which I can read this awesome article in it's entirety?

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      The lines cut off at the end? I'm not sure what you're talking about … is it a formatting thing? It looks normal on my computer.

  5. Katy B

    Love this list – thanks for sharing!!!

    • Katy B

      And I pretend Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph are my BFFs. They would be a hoot!

  6. Sydney

    1. This is fantastic! Consider it now bookmarked for future referencing on gloomy days 2. My imaginary celebrity BFFs are Maya Rudolf and Kristen Wiig. Just imagine the fun to be had with those two!

  7. Kerrie

    I love all these ladies! Great inspiration this Wednesday morning. Thanks!

  8. ashlie

    This is excellent, excellent stuff.

  9. Kristine F

    I'm really happy that I saw this post right now. I needed to be reminded of some of these things! Love these women.

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