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why you shouldn't seek revenge

“Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind.” –Juvenal

This favorite quote of Coach Wooden’s is attributed to Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, a Roman poet active in the late first and early second century A.D. and author of the Satires.

Juvenal had an additional thought on the same subject: “Revenge is sweet, sweeter than life itself—so say fools.”

And there are many other great thoughts on the topic of revenge. Here are a few:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon….
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
–St. Francis of Assisi

“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.” –Confucius

“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha

In his book There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Wayne Dyer shared the following:

There is a story concerning the Buddha, who is in the company of a fellow traveler who tests this great teacher with derogatory, insulting, disparaging and bitter responses to anything the Buddha says.

Every day, for three days, when the Buddha spoke, the traveler responded by calling him a fool, and ridiculing the Buddha in some arrogant fashion.

Finally, at the end of the third day, the traveler could stand it no more.

He asked, “How is it that you are able to be so loving and kind when all I’ve done for the past three days is dishonor and offend you? Each time I am disobliging to you, you respond in a loving manner. How is this possible?”

The Buddha responded with a question of his own for the traveler. “If someone offers you a gift, and you do not accept that gift, to whom does the gift belong?”

Coach Wooden also liked to refer to Mother Teresa and her key idea that forgiveness will set you free.

In his book A Game Plan for Life with Don Yeager, Coach commented on this topic:

Holding onto old grudges and nursing wounds we refuse to allow to heal can keep us locked in the same place.

More than once in my life, I found myself wanting to point a finger at my critics and give them a piece of my mind, such as when annoyed fans from other schools would send hateful mail, or when sportswriters would take jabs at UCLA’s program—but what would that accomplish?

Nothing. It would only give them more reason to dislike me.

If you hold a grudge or ill feelings against someone, decide how long you will continue with these feelings. Understand that the amount of time you choose is the amount of time you are allowing yourself to be held back.

As Coach liked to say, “Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead.”

Related: Why You Need to Be Honest in Thought and Action

Image by ntkris/

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.