THIS IS WATER, & Other Best Commencement Speeches Ever.

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 4, 2013
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Seven Great High School & College Graduation & Commencement Speeches.

A new version of a longer classic:

naropa university commencement graduation boulder college naropa university commencement graduation boulder college

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” ~ Malcolm Forbes

1. You are not special.

“Before you run off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that expression.

You can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life.

Rather than you only live once, it should be you live only once.”

“You see, if everyone is special, then no one is…if everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement…Before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance…The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.”

2. Naropa University:


11 years of Naropa University Commencement Ceremonies.

3. Stephen Colbert’s inspiring Commencement Speech:

“You can not win life. Dreams can be stupid. Serve what you love.” (Brothel) ~ Colbert

4. Conan O’Brien’s classic Commencement Speech:

J.K. Rowlings at Harvard Commencement
5. J.K. Rowling’s Commencement Speech:

steve jobs speech commencement stanford buddhist "four reminders"

“External expectations, all pride, fear of embarrassment or failure—these things fall away in the face of death.”

6. Steve Jobs’ Classic Commencement Speech:

7. Paul Hawken’s Commencement Speech.

Bonus, via the Washington Post: “The 10 things they really don’t tell you at graduation.”

“Jim Carrey delivered a commencement speech to MUM and he said “I did something that made people present their best selves to me where ever I go.” I found it very profound. Whole speech was excellent.

“So many of us choose our path out of fear, disguised as practicality.” Damn, Jim, that truth resonates.
Thank you for posting this. I agree the whole speech is excellent. An unexpected motivational boost.”


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “THIS IS WATER, & Other Best Commencement Speeches Ever.”

  1. Lindsey says:

    David Foster Wallace's speech, "This is Water" is worth watching in it's entirety without the distracting video.

  2. gretacargo says:

    Please add Ryan Van Duzer's talk to Boulder High. It is smart, endearing, and entirely fun and necessary.

  3. sarah e rosenberg says:

    thanks for collecting these in one piece. commencements aren't just for graduates. 🙂

  4. Claudia says:

    I love this compilation of commencement speeches! However, I think a really important one that needs to be up there is Jim Carrey’s commencement address at Maharishi University. There’s a really good summarization of the speech through YouTube channel “The Journey of Purpose”– His words changed my life. It’s all about choosing love over fear.

  5. butterflyeffect92 says:

    I love this grouping of commencement speeches. However, one that I really think should be up there is Jim Carrey's 2014 commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management. A good summarization of the speech can be found through the YouTube Channel "The Journey of Purpose"– His speech had a huge impact on me.

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