Ian Pullen

10 Charles Bukowski quotes

Sometimes the snow globe of your life needs a good shake … or to break.

Charles Bukowski did that for me. After finding his writing, I realized I was sleeping through life, afraid of the small stuff.

He shares wisdom that’s otherworldly. He’s similar to Hemingway but much more of a badass that uses the english language in a rough way. Think of him like author Mark Manson but cooler.

His wisdom will slap you in the face and kick you in the genitalia.

The point of his words isn’t to agree. It’s to wake the hell up.

Here are his best ten quotes.

“Find what you love and let it kill you”

I live my entire life by this quote.

Last year I gave up my corporate career to let online writing kill me.

It’s what I’ll do until my dying days. I want to die on this hill. I love it because of how it inspires strangers to take the red pill and become a new person.

The power to turn sleepwalking zombies into fired up badasses is incredible.

Find the thing you want to kill you. Take the subject you’re crazy about, no matter how silly, and make it your entire life.

Work on it after hours. Then have this wild task take over your career. Now that’s truly living with zero regrets!

“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice”

That’s how the current state of society feels.

People arguing about stuff that doesn’t matter. Arguments for the sack of arguments to look smart in front of “the crowd.”

The biggest debate we should have is with ourselves. What the heck are you doing in life? What’s the big goal? What if a yellow school bus takes you out tomorrow? Charles taught me to think like that.

Stop majoring in minor things.

Life is all over in a split second when you measure human life in comparison to the age of the universe.

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”

Qualifications are hilarious to me.

What matters isn’t whether you can memorize what books and lecturers say. What matters is whether you can think for yourself, assess the world, and execute despite the fear we all feel every day.

The smartest people talk simply. That’s why they have the largest audience.

When a topic doesn’t make sense we simply ignore it. Often those topics can change our lives but without simplicity we’ll never find it out.

If you can master Steve Jobs simplicity, it’s a license to print money and experience a level of freedom most people only dream of.

Now you know why online writers in the creator economy are becoming so stupidly wealthy. We’ve figured out the cheat codes to the universe: simplicity.

Take complexity. Make it simple.

Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way – Charles Bukowski

“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”

I’ve only met a handful of these free souls.

They’re people that have found what they love and spend their days free from the handcuffs of a calendar or smart-dumb-phone.

When I spend time around them I feel energized.

Their mental clarity is through the roof, so the wisdom bombs they drop are greater than anything I’ve found in cliche books.

Hanging around the right people is a powerful life hack.

Notice how your inner circle of family/friends makes you feel.

If they’re a disaster for your enthusiasm levels, it’s not their fault. Most people aren’t free. They’re living lives they hate deep down, desperate for an escape.

But fear stops them from finding the escape. It’s simpler for them to live with the fear than to find a way to free themselves.

Find free souls and ask them questions.

Their way of living can infect your brain if you’re exposed for long enough.

“People run from rain but sit in bathtubs full of water”

Life is a paradox.

We say we don’t want one thing but then secretly let it into our lives in other forms. When you realize how conflicted the average person is you understand why we suffer.

If you’re not aware of the paradoxes you expect the world to be logical.

Nothing is logical when you see paradoxes, like running from rain to sit in the same water in a bathtub.

Gif Credit: Giphy

Yes, getting drenched by the rain might seem bad. On the other hand, the discomfort of rain can shake up an otherwise predictable day.

I try to seek out novelty through random events, not run from it. It’s so easy to live your life unconsciously on a series of patterns.

When you respect pattern interrupts, new doors start to open. That’s how you find the world Charles Bukowski wrote about.

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live.”

This article might sound crazy.

That’s the whole point.

Expanding your mind requires new ideas. People will think you’re crazy when you even consider some of the things Charles writes about. Good.

Trying to fit in, be normal, and follow the rules is the real version of crazy.

Think about this…

If life were a video game you played on a phone, you wouldn’t play it safe. Nope. You’d push the limits, step on landmines, blow stuff up, enter cheat codes, and have fun.

Life IS a video game. Because you’re going to die in the future. No one knows when. Life will feel short. So, question?

What the hell have you got to lose?

Why not live life like a video game? You still die either way.

“They disgust me, the way they wait for death with as much passion as a traffic signal”

Cruising through life is effectively waiting for death.

Think about retirement homes. Nice old folks sit there and wait to die.


Makes no sense. If you’re at the end of your life and don’t have to work anymore, may as well go out with a bang.

For me, I want to live as if I’m already retired much sooner. Then the gap between now and my eventual funeral will be larger. So I can jam in more memories with the people I love.

The same applies to writing. I get asked all the time: “how do I succeed as a writer?”


Do as Charles suggested: live with more passion.

Don’t write boring words on a page. Make them bounce off the page. Feel something, so we can feel something. Otherwise it’s writing that leads nowhere.

Passion is the compass to the good life. It starts with not giving a f*ck.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence”

The world is a playground full of Hollywood actors.

They pretend they’ve got things figured out.

Not really.

Once you learn the power of confidence, you can use it to get unfair results you haven’t even earned yet.

The way to get to that place is to understand all obstacles are good. Most problems are solvable. Nothing is truly going to ruin your life the way you think it is.

And most confident people are idiots. So your competition is extremely low.

“The 9-5 is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you.”

The assembly-line 8-hour workday nightmare is what most of us live.

I realize it’s cool to poke holes into. I understand it’s not practical for everyone to *not* work a job. But the truth is the current version of having a job is broken.

  • There’s no transparency.
  • You can get worked into the ground.
  • The incentives and bonuses are subject to human interpretation.
  • And the value your work creates only gets you a small fraction back in the form of a salary.

This is just the hard truth.

Once you look at work differently, new possibilities start to emerge. I promote the hybrid model. Work a job and have an online side hustle.

At least with this set up you’re on the path to escaping the traditional career nightmare most people live.

How the hell could a person enjoy being awakened at 6:30 AM, by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? – Charles Bukowski

“You have to die a few times before you can really live”

Dying is a metaphor Charles uses.

Dying is:

  • Divorce
  • Rejection
  • Getting fired
  • Going bankrupt
  • Facing public humiliation
  • Watching someone you love die

When these tragedies happen they can make or break you. When you die inside a few times what comes after, if you let it, is a level of bravery you didn’t have before.

That bravery is what Charles calls really living.

When everything bad that happens appears as a hidden opportunity, holly cow, your life is going to change for good.

Die and get reborn.