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Uh oh, I think I just seized the day.
March 1, 2011 1:11 PM   Subscribe

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I'm making a sign/collage to hang beside my bathroom mirror - one of the first things I see each morning. In the middle of the collage I am putting my favorite quotation, "When the half-gods go, the gods arrive."

I want to surround the quote with kick ass Carpe Diemish types of phrases. Things that you actually say to yourself or others . . . no long quotes or soliloquies. Brief phrases or words that you use to motivate, push, inspire.

Thank you!
posted by WaspEnterprises to Grab Bag (165 answers total) 274 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always been partial to "Be here now".
posted by Go Banana at 1:12 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
posted by pwally at 1:12 PM on March 1, 2011 [33 favorites]


Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:13 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do." - Kilgore Trout, Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut)
posted by Etrigan at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's both hipsterish and out-of-date of me, but I'm still partial to Keep Calm and Carry On. It's never going to stop being a good grad school motto.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


If it were easy then everyone would be doing it.
posted by karmaportrait at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2011


"If it was easy, everybody would do it." (from "A League of Their Own")
posted by jbickers at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2011


This one is a little dark, but it motivates me. There was a band called Black Box Recorder, and they had a song called "Child Psychology," the chorus of which was:

"Life is unfair/kill yourself or get over it."

Kind of a funny way to remind myself not to complain and just get on with it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:15 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Living well is the best revenge.
posted by grobstein at 1:15 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do. Or do not. There is no try.
posted by General Tonic at 1:16 PM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


"lazy people work the hardest"
posted by phelixshu at 1:16 PM on March 1, 2011


Go heavy or go home.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The harder you work, the luckier you get.
posted by hampanda at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Given enough thrust, pigs fly just fine."
posted by bondcliff at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2011 [28 favorites]


Play the point, not the score.
posted by jeb at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


"He not busy being born is busy dying."
posted by entropicamericana at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.


traveler, there is no path.
the path is made by walking.

- Antonio Machado
posted by raztaj at 1:23 PM on March 1, 2011 [66 favorites]


Courage Wolf
posted by phrontist at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


“We must be the change we want to see in the world." - Gandhi
posted by flex at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Don't fuck it up. (My favorite chrf's pep talk.)

Alternately:

Fail better.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Disagreeableness and danger will not turn you back, and God forbid they should.
-------Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

Ever notice how "what the hell" is always the right decision?
----Marilyn Monroe

You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
----Winston Churchill

There'll be two dates on your tombstone. And all your friends will read 'em. But all that's gonna matter is that little dash between 'em.
----Kevin Welch

May you live every day of your life.
----Jonathan Swift

It's not the length of life, but the depth.
---Ralph Waldo Emerson

Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost.
----Henry James

Whatever you are, be a good one.
-----Abraham Lincoln

He that leaves nothing to chance will do few ill things, but he will do very few things.
----George Savile, First Marquess of Halifax

And thank you for a house full of people I love.  Amen.
-----Terri Guillemets

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.
----Robert Louis Stevenson

Not much is impossible.
---Steve Williams, Industrial Light and Magic

If you are going through hell, keep going.
----Winston Churchill

The distinguishing mark of true adventures, is that it is often no fun at all while they are actually happening.
----Kim Stanley Robinson

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
----Anais Nin

Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.
----Joseph Conrad

To believe yourself to be brave is to be brave; it is the only essential thing.
----Mark Twain
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2011 [34 favorites]


Let's make better mistakes tomorrow.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:27 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though."
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:28 PM on March 1, 2011


"Fuck it." In whatever sense is appropriate for the occasion.
posted by cmoj at 1:28 PM on March 1, 2011


Everyone dies, not everyone really lives.

Do what wins fastest; think what makes you happy.
posted by sninctown at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2011


If you're going through hell, keep going.
(Winston Churchill) - already mentioned, but a goodie.

and for humour:

When one door closes, another opens, but what they don't tell you is that it's hell in the hallway.
(not sure who penned this one)
posted by analog at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.…2. I wish I didn't work so hard.… 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.…4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.…5. I wish that I had let myself be happier."

Be your own hero.

Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

Work as if you were in the early days of a better nation.
posted by zamboni at 1:31 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Through the roof and underground."

That's what's on my screensaver right now, to motivate me. It's from a Gogol Bordello song. (Lyrics)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:31 PM on March 1, 2011


Just do.... something.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:34 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember that choices cannot be avoided.
posted by colfax at 1:35 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This too shall pass." - Traditional Proverb

"Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell." - Ed Abbey
posted by Seamus at 1:39 PM on March 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


A friend of mine has a sign hanging over his desk that says "You have a big brain."

I also like, "The only thing worse than learning from your mistakes is not learning from your mistakes."

And, "It's easy to keep your head above water: empty things float." --Tillie Olsen
posted by pompelmo at 1:41 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Use your weaknesses; aspire to the strength." -Lawrence Olivier
posted by Vervain at 1:41 PM on March 1, 2011


Subito.
posted by The World Famous at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2011


Play Like A Champion Today
posted by illenion at 1:46 PM on March 1, 2011


For when you've screwed up:

All you can do is fix it.
posted by lvanshima at 1:46 PM on March 1, 2011


Just get on with it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:46 PM on March 1, 2011


It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:49 PM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


The man who makes no mistakes doesn't usually make much of anything.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:50 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Auntie Mame
posted by Sophie1 at 1:55 PM on March 1, 2011


"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
--Shakespeare, Hamlet.
posted by elendil71 at 1:56 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Give yourself the chance to get lucky.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:18 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do something needed. Do something useful. Do something.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:19 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least it's not on fire.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:22 PM on March 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


Crawl on your hands and knees if you have to, but move forward.
posted by anderjen at 2:23 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh that last one reminds me of something I say to my sons:

"Is anyone bleeding? Has anyone stopped breathing? Is anything on fire? No? Then everything's OK."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:23 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Or am I to say I was made for the purpose of lying under blankets and keeping myself warm?" -- Marcus Aurelius

"Faint heart never won fair lady"

Also, a personal mantra when approaching any feat that makes me nervous:

Millions of idiots have done it, how hard can it be?
posted by stuck on an island at 2:28 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You're gonna make it!" Simple, I know. A freshman year roommate would intone this in his deep baritone whenever anyone quailed with despair, illness, or a hangover. But it's true - you ARE going to make it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:28 PM on March 1, 2011


I'm also a big fan of "If it were easy, anyone could do it."

Also: "Persistence, not perfection." Sorry, I don't have a source for it.

And: "Fortune favors the bold."
posted by Andrhia at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Plan your work, work your plan."

"Do you think you'll ever amount to anything?"

Things my dad always said as we were growing up.
posted by maxg94 at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2011


"If you have a problem and there is no solution, no sense worrying about it. If you have a problem and there exists a solution, no sense worrying about it."

Newton's Laws of motion.

Nobody noticed; nobody cares.

The buoy always rests at the water level.
(I made that one up)
posted by iamkimiam at 2:39 PM on March 1, 2011


Wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, but my major life philosophy:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

"Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive" - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things." - Henry Ward Beecher

Finally:

"Kits rise highest against the wind, not with it." - Winston Churchill

[sorry i like quotes!]
posted by fuzzysoft at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


No matter how far you have gone down the wrong path, turn around.
posted by nickjadlowe at 2:56 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Get excited and make things.

First, care.
posted by clavicle at 3:05 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


A man of genius makes no mistakes, his errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery. – James Joyce

Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off our goals.


Many a sudden change takes place on an unlikely day.
posted by any major dude at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have done so much with so little for so long, I can do anything with nothing forever.
posted by holterbarbour at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


fall down seven times, get up eight
posted by forforf at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

- Helen Keller
posted by The World Famous at 3:16 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." -- Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Keep in mind that Shakespeare has the officious Polonius say this among a whole list of trite platitudes, usually staged with Laertes trying to get on the boat and Ophelia rolling her eyes.
posted by nicwolff at 3:18 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If you're not dropping, you're not learning" - a phrase expressly intended for newbie jugglers, but works just as well for me.
posted by sleepcrime at 3:20 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It doesn't take talent to hustle and work hard. -Gary Mack, Mind Gym
posted by palegirl at 3:30 PM on March 1, 2011


Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily. - Dorothy Day

I love how it reminds me that EVERYONE goes through rough patches.
posted by estlin at 3:40 PM on March 1, 2011


"Pee first."

Take care of the most important stuff first; everything else can wait.

Also, when faced with a difficult situation, peeing gives you the excuse to have two minutes of privacy while you decide what the hell to do next.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:40 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I have no choice...I will fight."

Also nthing "Keep calm and carry on" - this has really been helping me through the current rough patch of life I'm schlepping through.
posted by Anima Mundi at 3:42 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my first year of college, I found a fridge magnet with this on it:

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover."

It's served me well so far.
posted by Xany at 3:49 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is water. - David Foster Wallace

Don't fuck it up. - RuPaul (and probably a lot of other people.)
posted by grapesaresour at 3:53 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tennyson's Ulysses is the ultimate in motivation for me and I memorized it solely to be able to recite it to myself. But if you want one line:

"As though to breathe were life."

Slightly fuller context: "How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use. As though to breathe were life."

The last stanza of the poem is great as well.
posted by slide at 3:53 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seconding Courage Wolf. It's a goddamned goldmine.

My favorite: "Life's a bitch. Your bitch."
posted by mullingitover at 4:01 PM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


"Keep your glove oiled and your knees loose, Charlie." -- Jean Shepherd
posted by Devoidoid at 4:06 PM on March 1, 2011


Chance favors the prepared mind.
posted by carmicha at 4:08 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


One my volleyball team uses to focus ourselves when we have a streak of bad points:

Rope it up.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 4:10 PM on March 1, 2011


"Cast off what is useless." -Bruce Lee
posted by rhizome at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I can get a doughnut any ol' day".*

*
See, every Friday we have free doughnuts at work. Obviously they are fucking delicious so I want one every time. But then I think, "there's nothing really special about that doughnut 'cause I can get one any ol' day" and I decide to wait 'till next time to have one. And then the next time I decide the same thing.
posted by shino-boy at 4:21 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fortune favors the prepared.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:28 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


A related pack of do-something quotes:

"Do something even if it's wrong."
-???


That used to confuse me because I thought it meant it's OK to do morally wrong things. Turns out it's just poorly worded. What it means is do something, anything, even if you know it's not the home run thing you're hoping for. Don't do nothing for lack of certainty or lack of ideas. Movement of any kind leads to new scenery, which brings unexpected new opportunities, etc. etc. etc.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
-Will Rogers


"Pick a side and dive."
-Any soccer goalkeeping coach


At a certain level of play, a soccer goalkeeper can't wait for the penalty kicker to kick and only then react by diving to whichever side the ball is going - - the ball comes too fast for that. If you don't dive one way or the other, he'll almost certainly score and you're left there frozen and looking stupid. You have to pick a side ahead of time, dive that way as the ball is being struck, and hope that's the side the kicker picked. Often in life you don't have time to analyze, you need to move now based on the best info you can gather, knowing it may be wrong, and then deal with whatever comes, knowing you'll have opportunities to recover. It's about giving yourself some chance of success in a bad and uncertain situation by committing to a course of action instead of zero chance by freezing and doing nothing out of fear or indecision.
posted by Askr at 4:33 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do. " -Henry Ford
posted by KevCed at 4:33 PM on March 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


More is lost to indecision than wrong decision.

That's not always true, but getting started is sometimes the hardest part, right?
posted by KevCed at 4:34 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything's impossible until the first time someone does it.

You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:41 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Leap, and the net will appear. John Burrows
posted by sadtomato at 4:43 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not rocket surgery.
posted by dismitree at 4:45 PM on March 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


Sometimes I say, "Ever forward."
posted by Seboshin at 4:51 PM on March 1, 2011


The perfect is the enemy of the good. (Voltaire)
posted by BundleOfHers at 4:52 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you have a problem and you get upset, then you have two problems.
posted by ohshenandoah at 4:52 PM on March 1, 2011 [37 favorites]


"Nerves don't get you anywhere." -- Robin Johnson

"Fortune favors the bold!" -- The Flaming Carrot
posted by Devoidoid at 4:54 PM on March 1, 2011


"A hero is just a man who knows he is free" - Protoman

Feel free to re-gender it though.
posted by Balna Watya at 5:26 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good."
posted by No-sword at 5:27 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Whip It, after watching roller derby for the first time, Ellen Page's character nervously approaches one of the leagues and tells them they're her heroes. To which one replies, "Well, put some skates on and be your own hero."

I also like looking at this whenever I need a push.
posted by anderjen at 5:32 PM on March 1, 2011


I heard on an interview that Michael J Fox says every morning to his children "Choose to be happy."
posted by carlh at 5:33 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
posted by kid A at 5:39 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm partial to "Pain is temporary. Pride is forever."
posted by dame at 5:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


When there is a task at hand:
Focus and Finish (repeat).
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 6:12 PM on March 1, 2011


Phil Lesh to the rest of the band, before they went on stage following Miles Davis: "Remember, play in tune."
posted by fixedgear at 6:16 PM on March 1, 2011


From the annals of Charlie Sheen's most recent epic interview: "Can't is the cancer of happen."
posted by genekelly'srollerskates at 6:25 PM on March 1, 2011


Action precedes motivation.
posted by lalochezia at 7:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for. - John A. Shedd
posted by roaring beast at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2011 [20 favorites]


My answer is perhaps a little long for what you want - but feel free to use just part of it - or any of the many others that may be suitable from this similar thread from last year.
posted by dirm at 7:57 PM on March 1, 2011


Shit or get off the pot.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:20 PM on March 1, 2011


These are amazing. I love them all, but am giving favorites to the ones that will make it into the collage. Big high fives all around.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 8:26 PM on March 1, 2011


Acknowledge and move on.

It helps me to remember not to dwell on things I can't change.
posted by Fuego at 8:27 PM on March 1, 2011


You can't build a reputation on what you intend to do. - Henry Ford
posted by rocket88 at 8:51 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What one man can do, another can do.*
posted by cribcage at 8:51 PM on March 1, 2011


"Fortune favors the bold"

"To thine own self be true" -Shakespeare

"Don't die." -My dad :)

and believe it or not "You shall not pass" -Gandalf. Thinking of that whole scene and how Gandalf stood up and brought it, inspires me. Makes me feel like I can take on the world.
posted by Polgara at 8:54 PM on March 1, 2011


If people can do it, I can do it.
posted by jenmakes at 9:23 PM on March 1, 2011


I'm kind of embarrassed to say this one, because not only is it apparently the title of a self-help book, but it's the title of a self-help book that I haven't even read...but it's been pretty inspirational for me: "Feel the fear and just DO it."
posted by threeants at 9:31 PM on March 1, 2011


The universe rewards action.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:42 PM on March 1, 2011


Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Improvise, adapt and overcome. U.S. Marine Corps.
posted by Taurid at 10:09 PM on March 1, 2011


The best revenge is massive success. -- Frank Sinatra

Live to the point of tears. -- Albert Camus

Never, never, never give up. -- Winston Churchill

And my personal favourite, which gets me through every time:

"If you can take the worst, take the risk."
posted by pleasebekind at 10:13 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


And something to make you smile:

To do is to be. - Nietzsche
To be is to do. - Kant
Do be do be do. - Sinatra



posted by pleasebekind at 10:16 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Adopt, Adapt and Improve!
-- Motto of the Round Table, and Monty Python's Lingerie Robber.

See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.
-- John XXIII

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
-- Helen Keller

Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.
-- Hafiz

...don't be afraid, ever, because [life] is just a ride.
-- Bill Hicks

To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves. . . let us be above such transparent egotism.
-- Will Durant

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
-- John Wooden

There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.
- Lao Tzu

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.
-- Wendell Phillips

You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
-- German Proverb

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
-- Erich Fromm
posted by Hardcore Poser at 11:42 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Stay Positive
We're gonna build something this summer!
We are our only saviors!
Ler this be our annual reminder that we can all be something bigger
- all from Hold Steady songs
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:43 PM on March 1, 2011


If you're scared of the future tonight just take it each hour one at a time. - Gaslight Anthem (just came on my iPod)

Tear down the stars and take up your guitars. Try this at home. - Frank Turner

Life is too short to live without poetry - Frank Turner

Yeah, well life is about love, lost minutes and lost evening. About fire in our bellies and about furtive little feelings. And the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering. And they help us with remembering that the only thing that�s left to do is live. - Frank Turner
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:59 PM on March 1, 2011


I'll make it to the moon if I have to crawl.

(I couldn't care less about the band, but I think of this one line often.)
posted by milk white peacock at 12:22 AM on March 2, 2011


Fear is the mind-killer. - Dune

This got me through a spelunking trip and a blood test
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:28 AM on March 2, 2011


"He either fears his fate too much
Or his desserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch
To win or lose it all."

by James Graham, Fifth Earl of Montrose, a genuine hero whose exploits were legendary even in his own time, and that rare thing, a moderate in an age of extremists.
posted by wjm at 2:03 AM on March 2, 2011


Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:09 AM on March 2, 2011


Sucessful people are motivated by a desire for pleasing results. Unsucessful people are motivated by a desire for pleasing experiences.
posted by qsysopr at 2:44 AM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
- Calvin Coolidge
posted by fire&wings at 2:46 AM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned. (St Augustine)
posted by piato at 4:45 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was a camper and counselor at a beautiful summer camp in southwestern Virginia. The camp had a cool, green river that was our swimming and canoeing spot, as well as the source of many a bath (since the showers at camp ran from a well with poor water pressure). The Cowpasture River was such a part of the camp that it figured in our lore, our songs, and our ceremonies, and camp alumnae usually make it the first stop when they come back to visit--which they do every summer. It's refreshing in the heat of the afternoon, and a reviving force before you had to go play soccer in 90 degrees, surrounded by gnats.

However, if you had swimming first thing in the morning when the air temp was still in the 60s, it was shockingly cold! It was hard to jump into a dark, murky river while it was still foggy outside and you have to shed a sweatshirt and jeans to go swimming.

So the counselors used reverse psychology on the campers: It became a requirement, if you had swimming that early in the morning, to shout "I LOVE THE RIVER!" before jumping in at the beginning of class. Then, once you were in the water, if you were cold, instead of complaining "It's so cold!" you could only say "I love the river!" while your teeth were chattering through your first couple of laps. And because everyone really did love the river--just not at that time of day--it felt more like self-talk than a torturous campaign of propaganda.

So, my favorite motivational phrase is along the lines of "Feel the fear and do it anyway." It's "I LOVE THE RIVER!"
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:39 AM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Lower your expectations and get to work.--Lester Bangs
posted by OmieWise at 5:47 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:01 AM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Change does not happen in your comfort zone." (Andrea Hess)
posted by Mysticalchick at 6:04 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


All things are at once good and imperfect. - Thomas Merton.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:25 AM on March 2, 2011


"It could be worse. You could be on fire."

Never fails to make me smile and reframe my perspective.
posted by Acton at 6:25 AM on March 2, 2011


No retreats, no regrets.
posted by shesaysgo at 6:52 AM on March 2, 2011


Come back with your shield or on it.

Ad augusta per angusta --> High places, narrow paths.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


2 from my former art teacher... I know he didn't pen them, but he said them often.
Fake it 'til you feel it.
&
Do something, even if it is wrong.

I also like...
“If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful.”
&
“If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.”
posted by nimsey lou at 7:37 AM on March 2, 2011


When you have a choice between being right and being kind, always choose to be kind. - Wayne Dyer
posted by rocket88 at 8:03 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My kids had a wonderful art teacher who would use this line:

"It's a great day to be alive. If you're not happy to be alive, then you might as well go home. Because we're just gonna bum you out."
posted by in the methow at 8:45 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The best form of saying is doing" - Jose Marti

"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should" - Max Ehrmann
posted by just_ducky at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joseph Campbell is my go-to man for this:

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

"Follow your bliss, and the Universe will open doors where before there were only walls."

"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life so much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."

"It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."

"Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning."

"Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."

"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure."

Also Rumi:

"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."

"You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?"

"Everything in the universe is within you.
Ask all from yourself."

"You knock at the door of Reality.
You shake your thought-wings, loosen
your shoulders
and open."
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:14 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet.
-Jean Cocteau

The only way you can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get a chance to sit up and look around.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

probably too long but...
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

the gist of ee cummings' i: six nonlectures is, over and over, the notion only you can live your life the way you can, to put it clumsily. one example:

"Nobody else can be alive for you; nor can you be alive for anybody else. Toms can be Dicks and Dicks can be Harrys, but none of them can ever be you. There’s the artist’s responsibility; and the most awful responsibility on earth. If you can take it, take it – and be. If you can’t, cheer up and go about other people’s business; and do (or undo) till you drop."

and

"Any apparent somewhere which you may inhabit is always at the mercy of a ruthless and omnivorous everywhere."

there's also always his line
the reason that i laugh and breathe is oh love and the reason
that i do not fall into this street is love
posted by ifjuly at 10:31 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


and the corollary: It's not brain science.
posted by theora55 at 10:50 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anaïs Nin
posted by datarose at 1:49 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life is too short to stuff a mushroom -- Shirley Conran, in SUPERWOMAN, which I read as an 11 year old boy as my mother had a copy.
posted by unSane at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2011


I once had a manager at a sandwich shop back in college who, in his fury, yelled at one of the employees, "Do something! Do anything! Even if it's wrong!"

It stuck with me to some degree, apparently.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:22 PM on March 2, 2011


Endure. In enduring, grow strong.
- Dak'kon

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
- Samuel Beckett

My center is giving way, my right is in retreat. Situation excellent: I shall attack.
- Marshal Foch, WWI

No matter where you go, there you are.
- Buckaroo Banzai
posted by Errant at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
posted by nemutdero at 4:11 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I make my own luck. (Harvey Dent)
posted by triggerfinger at 4:45 PM on March 2, 2011


"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it! "


-William Hutchinson Murray misquoting Goethe

"Courage is grace under pressure."

"Never mistake motion for action."

-Hemingway

I like the more complete Helen Keller quote, though the end makes a good mantra:
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
-Helen Keller
posted by Manjusri at 5:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


No retreats, no regrets.

No retreat and no surrender.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm gonna knock you out! Mama said knock you out!
posted by elle.jeezy at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2011


"Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. But sometimes when you fall, you fly." -- Neil Gaiman
posted by aclevername at 9:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If a bird can't fly, it walks."
posted by 8dot3 at 6:05 AM on March 3, 2011


Not necessarily motivational, but this one is a good reminder:

"Industry is a better horse to ride than Genius."
posted by Xoebe at 10:47 AM on March 3, 2011


The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward
posted by storybored at 11:50 AM on March 3, 2011


"Purpose before self" - Ram Charan
posted by storybored at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2011


"Don't die with the music still in you"
posted by gillianr at 12:50 PM on March 3, 2011


"Be bold-and mighty forces will come to your aid." (Basil King)
posted by scrump at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2011


Sort of late to the game on this one, but I absolutely loved that Nike billboard from a few years back:

Yesterday you said tomorrow.
posted by aheckler at 8:08 PM on March 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


Every day aboveground is a good day.
posted by benzenedream at 1:14 AM on March 4, 2011


Just keep swimming
posted by mnfn at 5:21 AM on March 4, 2011


"Just do it."
posted by cmp4Meta at 3:29 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think you can, or think you can't, you're right. -- Henry Ford
posted by wwartorff at 7:13 PM on March 4, 2011


"Resist much, obey little". - Walt Whitman
posted by lahersedor at 10:17 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" - David Farragut
posted by lahersedor at 10:30 PM on March 5, 2011


"If you're reading this, you're still alive, nice work"
posted by hellojed at 1:57 PM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. — Ben Franklin
posted by starman at 7:27 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


DONE IS BETTER THAN GOOD!
posted by klangklangston at 4:25 PM on March 7, 2011


"Think."
posted by Sys Rq at 12:54 AM on March 8, 2011


"Never give up. Never surrender." - Commander Peter Quincy Taggert
posted by nicodine at 1:04 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Surrender, but don't give yourself away." - Cheap Trick
posted by Sys Rq at 1:26 PM on March 9, 2011


"Sometimes you've got to wade through the shit to get to the strawberries."
"You won't drown if you're meant to hang."
-My grandma
posted by Capt.DooDooFace at 9:09 AM on March 13, 2011


Nil sine magno labore
posted by swift at 10:20 AM on March 24, 2011


I always say "JFDI!" to myself when I find myself avoiding getting on with something: "Just 'flippin'' do it!"
posted by jonesor at 4:06 PM on March 27, 2011


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