Florence Nightingale-The Lady With The Lamp’s Inspirational Life Story and Sayings


They say that nursing is one of the most sacred professions out there, I think that the saying is more than true and no one can top the services and dedication provided by Nurses. Nurses might be the only individuals on this earth that hold back their own tears to give a smile to others.

Suppose I were to ask you to name some of the greatest nurses that the world has ever known. In that case, there is an extreme probability that you will give me the name of Florence Nightingale, the wealthy woman who gave off her everything to serve the needy people of her time and become a nurse. I think that it’s safe to say that Florence is the archetype of modern-day nurses. She’s still pictured today as she was in the Crimean War of 1853, carrying a lamp from sickbed to sickbed where she tended to the wounded, and that is how she earned herself the title of “The Lady With The Lamp”.

Florence was born on May 12th,1820 and her journey to greatness started. She was born into privilege, she was a polymath genius who spoke multiple languages and pioneered the concepts of statistical analysis that are still used today. She was a shy and devout Christian, a feminist, she had an opinion that women shouldn’t vote and oversaw a hospital that had the highest amount of death rates in modern history.

Florence Nightingale was a woman of many complications but she was also so much more than that. When you ask someone about Florence, the words that come to their minds are nurse, feminist but no one thinks of the “Borderline Genius” which they should. She had the kind of brain that comes once in a generation. Her parents were different too, they were super-wealthy, super-connected, and actually cared for the education of their two daughters.

This came as a surprise because at that time, being born with two X chromosomes was the high road to a life full of knitting and taking care of a household but her father was really dedicated to his two daughters. Education for women at that time was still at its earliest but Florence got the best education possible.

The rumor was that Papa Nightingale actually wanted a son and when Florence was born he couldn’t accept the reality. He even went to the extent of making every villager in his estate address Florence by the title of “Squire”.

Apart from that young Florence had a life of unprecedented education that would make anyone’s head spin. She mastered multiple languages like Latin, Italian, Greek, German, and French. She even memorized the works of philosophy and would often debate with her father.

After a while Florence had a vision, it was like a silent command from God but the effect it had on her was super dramatic. On February 5, 1837, the teenage Florence declared that God had commanded her to end suffering in this world and this is when she joined Nursing. Both of her parents disagreed with that, imagine that her Liberal father refused to consider it.

At that time prostitution and nursing were considered almost the same. Well, Florence over the next 12-13 years tried convincing her parents, but they didn’t budge.

In 1849 she even ditched suitors to focus on her nursing career which at that time was non-existent. When Florence turned 30, her dad was completely worn out from resisting and then sent her to Germany for nursing training. In 1853 her dream was completely realized and she undertook a job in London at a hospital. She finally became the embodiment of that commandment, she fulfilled her dream.

Florence didn’t know at the time that she was going to be dragged into one of the bloodiest conflicts in European History-The Crimean War.

Florence Nightingale

Keep in mind that this was the first war in which modern media was involved, so the heroes of this war would go on to live on forever in the pages of history. Using nurses to take care of soldiers during wartime wasn’t something Governments allowed. When the Crimean War erupted, the British government was so against the idea that they actually forbid the nurses from tending to the soldiers.

This meant that the British troops received a very minimal level of care. When William Howard Russell decided to write about British military hospitals in the Crimea, it created a massive outrage and the government quickly reversed its decision.

Suddenly, Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of State at War found himself in dire need to send a head nurse to Crimea, and luckily he had just the nurse in mind. Florence jumped at the opportunity and what she thought would be the opportunity to show the parents her capabilities, she found herself trapped in a barrage of endless nightmares.

Although, she pulled off the inevitable and became a Legend and became immortal in the pages of history.

Florence Nightingale’s Inspirational Quotes and Sayings

1. I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.


2. I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.


3. So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.


4. Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.


5. I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions that bring results.


6. You ask me why I do not write something… I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions that bring results.


7. If a nurse declines to do these kinds of things for her patient, ‘because it is not her business’, I should say that nursing was not her calling.


8. The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.


9. She said the object and color in the materials around us actually have a physical effect on us, on how we feel.


10. Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift-there is nothing small about it.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

11. How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.


12. Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.


13. The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.


14. Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?


15. To understand God’s thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose.


16. Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backward.


17. What cruel mistakes are sometimes made by benevolent men and women in matters of business about which they can know nothing and think they know a great deal.


18. No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – ‘devoted and obedient’. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.


19. Nature alone cures. … what nursing has to do … is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.


20. Instead of wishing to see more doctors made by women joining what there are, I wish to see as few doctors, either male or female, as possible. For, mark you, the women have made no improvement they have only tried to be ”men” and they have only succeeded in being third-rate men.


21. Woman has nothing but her affections,–and this makes her at once more loving and less loved.


22. What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization, and disorder on the part of the inferior… jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.


23. There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain.


24. The craving for ‘the return of the day’, which the sick so constantly evince, is generally nothing but the desire for light.


25. It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary nevertheless to lay down such a principle …


26. The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried, is one of the commonest observations made at a sickbed.


27. Women should have the true nurse calling, the good of the sick first the second only the consideration of what is their ‘place’ to do – and that women who want for a housemaid to do this or the charwomen to do that, when the patient is suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them.


28. By mortifying vanity we do ourselves no good. It is the want of interest in our life that produces it; by filling up that want of interest in our life we can alone remedy it.


29. Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

30. Everything is sketchy. The world does nothing but a sketch.


31. I use the word nursing for want of a better. It has been limited to signify little more than the administration of medicines and the application of poultices. It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet-all at the least expense of vital power to the patient.


32. “In it and in the other prayers of the Mystics there is scarcely a petition. There is never a word of the theory that God’s dealings with us are to show His “power”; still less of the theory


33. For the sick it is important to have the best.


34. That “of His own good pleasure” He has ” predestined” any souls to eternal damnation.”


35. It is very well to say “be prudent, be careful, try to know each other.” But how are you to know each other?


36. Religion is not devotion, but work and suffering for the love of God; this is the true doctrine of Mystics.


37. There is a physical, not moral, impossibility of supplying the wants of the intellect in the state of civilization at which we have arrived.


38. Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back.


39. Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion. Remember he is face to face with his enemy all the time.


40. Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take a breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening.


41. For it may safely be said, not that the habit of ready and correct observation will by itself make us useful nurses, but that without it we shall be useless with all our devotion.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

42. Remember my name– you’ll be screaming it later.


43. Hospitals are only an intermediate stage of civilization, never intended … to take in the whole sick population. May we hope that the day will come … when every poor sick person will have the opportunity of a share in a district sick-nurse at home.


44. It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick that, second only to their need of fresh air, is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room and that it is not only light but direct sunlight they want.


45. The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe – how to observe – what symptoms indicate improvement – what the reverse – which is of importance – which is of none – which are the evidence of neglect – and of what kind of neglect.


46. The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in the water supply.


47. People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, color, and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect. Variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients are actual means of recovery.


48. The very elements of what constitutes good nursing are as little understood for the well as for the sick. The same laws of health, or of nursing, for they are in reality the same, obtain among the well as among the sick.


49. To be a fellow-worker with God is the highest aspiration of which we can conceive man capable.


50. Mankind must make heaven before we can “go to heaven” (as the phrase is), in this world as in any other.


51. Volumes are now written and spoken upon the effect of the mind upon the body. Much of it is true. But I wish a little more was thought of the effect of the body on the mind.


52. Our first journey is to find that special place for us.


53. Asceticism is the trifling of an enthusiast with his power, a puerile coquetting with his selfishness or his vanity, in the absence of any sufficiently great object to employ the first or overcome the last.


54. Never dispute with anybody who wishes to contradict you, says a most reasonable saint.


55. I stand at the altar of the murdered men, and, while I live, I fight their cause.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

56. I did not think of going to give myself a position, but for the sake of common humanity.


57. If you knew how unreasonably sick people suffer from reasonable causes of distress, you would take more pains about all these things.


58. “I must strive to see only God in my friends, and God in my cats.”


59. “Why do people sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have no time in the day to themselves.”


60. “Unnecessary noise is the cruelest absence of care that can be inflicted on the sick or the well.”


Nightingale dedicated herself to improving healthcare during the Crimean War. The result was a huge reduction in the mortality rates. Her analysis helped shape the public health policies in England. She was a feminist in the time women dared not speak. She fought for equal rights for women. 

Her work as well as her life represent the power of a single determined individual who is set on bringing a positive change to society. Her life serves as an inspiration for everyone who is seeking to bring a difference. 

Also Read: Overcoming Adversity: Inspiring Stories Of Success And Resolve

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