Willie Nelson’s Best Quotes of All Time: Advice on Joy and Individuality

by Lauren Boisvert

Willie Nelson is just a special kind of guy: 88 years old and still performing and writing new music; rescuing horses and putting on concerts at his Luck Ranch in Texas; founding the Farm Aid Festival to help farmers and teach people about agriculture; and just overall being a really good person.

He’s generous, immensely talented, and cares about his friends, neighbors, and animals. He also has amazing nuggets of wisdom to impart to us. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I like to consider Willie Nelson America’s Cool Granddad.

Here we’ve gathered some of Willie Nelson’s best quotes to help you live a life of joy, individuality, confidence, and ease. Come sit on the rug by the fire and let cool grandpa Willie teach you how to be happy.

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

We’ve all heard “the early bird gets the worm,” right? It’s what our moms tell us when we won’t get up in time for school. It’s an adage as old as time itself, but what we haven’t really heard is Willie Nelson’s rendition of the phrase.

“The second mouse gets the cheese” tells us not to rush through life. Take it easy, slow down, or you’ll get caught in the trap. Once that first mouse gets caught, the second mouse comes over and gets the cheese. This isn’t saying sacrifice someone to the mousetrap of life; only that when other people around you are rushing, worrying, and stressing themselves out, you can slow down, take a break, and come get the cheese later.

Other Willie Nelson Quotes About Taking Life Easy

  • “As adults, we try to relax from the never-ending quest for reason and order by drinking a little whiskey or smoking whatever works for us, but the wisdom isn’t in the whiskey or the smoke. The wisdom is in the moments when the madness slips away and we remember the basics.”
  • “We create our own unhappiness. The purpose of suffering is to help us understand we are the ones who cause it.”
  • “You will never find happiness until you stop looking for it.”
  • “…when you put your life in a good place, good things follow.”

“Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there.”

Willie Nelson is about taking life easy, yes, but he’s also about taking responsibility. This reminds me of a quote from ethnobotanist Terence McKenna: “Take it easy, dude, but take it.” Willie Nelson has a similar philosophy. He’s an advocate for being responsible for your thoughts, actions, and feelings; taking control of your life, being in the moment, and making sure you’re putting positive reactions into the world.

Not to use the word vibes, but it’s kind of about vibes, and holding yourself accountable for your thoughts and actions. His recent song “Energy Follows Thought” is about just that. Intentions, accountability, and the power we can give to thought. Everyone has power in their lives, and Willie Nelson just wants us to be responsible with it.

Other Willie Nelson Quotes About Intention and Responsibility

  • “Freedom is control in your own life. I have more control now than in the past, and I’m learning the value of saying no. That’s very important.”
  • “Let the jerks of the world serve as the perfect example of what you don’t want to be. You’ll be a heck of a lot happier, and in the long run, there’s a chance that other person at work will end up asking what your secret is. Why are you the happy one? In other words, don’t let your thoughts think you.”
  • “You’ll never get ahead by blaming your problems on other people.”
  • “Once you replace negative thought with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
  • “If you’ve made your own hell, then only you have the power to escape it.”

“You will never find love until you stop looking.”

Willie Nelson is currently with his 4th wife, and they’ve been married for over 30 years, so he has to know a little something about love. His thoughts on love and happiness overlap at times, as what’s love without happiness and vice versa.

This quote reminds us that the more we search for something, the less likely it will come to us. We can’t make someone fall in love with us, that’s something that happens gradually. When love comes to us, we need to nurture it and let it thrive. If you spend all your time searching for love, you’ll miss out on opportunities to create love for yourself. You only get one life, and you are the longest relationship you’ll ever have.

Willie Nelson’s advice doesn’t just cover romantic love, but familial love, friendships, and self love as well. When it comes to happiness and love, he believes in positive thinking, counting your blessings, and worrying about yourself.

Other Willie Nelson Quotes on Love and Happiness

  • “Ninety-nine percent of the world’s lovers are not with their first choice. That’s what makes the jukebox play.”
  • “The older I get, the more I realize it’s never too early to start appreciating the people in your life. If you love your family, it’s essential that you tell them. They need you and you need them. If you can make someone feel better with just a few words, why wouldn’t you want to use them? Speaking for fathers everywhere, this is the best I can offer. Go hug your daddy. It ain’t too late to save him.”
  • “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
  • “Memories remind us that every moment of our lives, even the most tragic, have contributed to our strength. We’ve gotten through. We’re still here.”
  • “It’s easy to be overwhelmed by our desires for material things, but the fact is, most of us know what we truly value. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.”

“If you really want to get along with somebody, let them be themselves.”

Willie Nelson is the biggest advocate for individuality I think we’re going to get on this earth. He loves being an individual, being a unique person, and he thinks everyone else should too.

I tend to agree; we’re all so unique and diverse, that making people fit inside a mold of what we think people should be is asinine. Just let people live, stay out of their business, and mind your own. You’ll be much happier when you let people just be themselves. Stop worrying about things that don’t concern you, like how a person dresses, their body shape, how they identify. Just worry about yourself and your space.

Other Willie Nelson Quotes About Individuality

  • “So if I’m not normal and you’re not normal and they’re not normal—why in the blue blazes do we all spend so much time pretending we are?”
  • “If you ain’t crazy, there’s something wrong with you.”
  • “Bottom line is that I’ve seen some progress in my time. Not long ago millions of gay folks were hiding in the closet and living in fear. Now they’re free to come out, create their own path, and even marry. That’s a beautiful thing.”
  • “It’s good to change. If the change brings about confusion, who cares? Confusion makes you think. And that’s another good thing.”
  • “To hell with what people think. Just be who you are and you’ll be happy.”

Willie Nelson: Country Music Icon, America’s Cool Granddad

The country music legend has been a font of wisdom for so many years, inspiring us to love ourselves, hold our thoughts accountable, and be kind to those around us. This is just a taste of some of Willie Nelson’s advice; he has books out full of memorable quotes about life, love, happiness and getting through the tough times. If you ever need a pick-me-up when you’re feeling low, just know you can always turn to cool grandpa Willie for advice.