An Inspiring Mantra to Start My Morning?
March 4, 2014 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a poem, quotation, or mantra you read each morning that puts things in perspective, and inspires you? I'm looking for one to help with motivation when waking up each morning. So far no luck.

I know it's corny, and I'm not even sure it helps, but sometimes I wake up in the morning and I'm a little overwhelmed with life. I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep. I've often thought it would be nice to have something to quote or read to start my day. Just maybe that gets my mind on the right track. To not feel overwhelmed by life but want to attack it.

I've looked, but been unsuccessful. I'm opened to anything that's not religious. Anyone have any suggestions?
posted by ratherbethedevil to Religion & Philosophy (20 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I've got one that I have on my desktop and it motivates me every time I look at it, I love it. But, it's sort of geared towards women (though you could use a substitute) and it has some swear words thrown in :-) Let me know if you want me to post it.
posted by canda at 7:40 PM on March 4, 2014

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
posted by IfIShouldEverComeBack at 7:48 PM on March 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

To Be of Use
By Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
posted by foxfirefey at 7:56 PM on March 4, 2014 [15 favorites]

The FDNY chaplain who died on 9/11 was named Mychal Judge. He seems like he was a hell of a guy. This is Mychal's Prayer:
Lord, take me where You want me to go,
Let me meet who You want me to meet,
Tell me what You want me to say,
And keep me out of Your way.
This, to me, is one of the best prayers for Real Life that I have heard in a long time, and I think of it often. It says to me, "I have shit to do, but I may need a little hand today. Can we work this out?"

(Also good: "Let's do this thing.")
posted by wenestvedt at 8:23 PM on March 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have mine tattooed on me, so I see it most days I guess. A quote by Hippocrates in Latin:
Ars longa,
vita brevis,
occasio praeceps,
experimentum periculosum,
iudicium difficile.

Life is short,
and art [as in "learning a craft"] long,
opportunity fleeting,
experience perilous,
and decision [or judgement] difficult.
posted by jorlyfish at 8:43 PM on March 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

It may sound rather prosaic and not terribly inspiring at first, but over time I did find this thought very liberating and freeing, to the point where I became open to enthusiasm toward the things that made life joyful instead of burdensome:

"Just For Today, I don't have to worry about tomorrow; there's no value in agonizing over yesterday. I only need to get through today. I can handle that much."

During an intensely painful part of my life when I was feeling nearly suicidal, "Just for today" turned into my unplanned mantra. When I broke my depression into day-size chunks, I could manage just today's distress - I discovered that I didn't have to carry ALL of it EVERY day. Then on the next day, I coped only with that day's depression. I still made long-range plans and such, but by not lumping the entirety of my life's potential misery into one huge unrelenting burden I was able to avoid feeling so overwhelmed with dread, and getting through a single day's worth didn't seem insurmountable.

With practice, the daily load became more easily managed. I had more energy to start figuring out what to do to reduce my unhappiness even further, and the bad days became more and more rare. I still get depressed occasionally, but the hard-won confidence that I can get through it okay and that it's only temporary makes all the difference in the world.

The point I'm trying to make is that if you're struggling, there's no inspirational message that magically dissipates the pain or inertia or depression or whatever you happen to be dealing with. It's a path, a process, and there aren't any shortcuts. But it does improve as you learn to deal effectively with Life and keep a useful perspective. With practice you uncover more and more zest for living and psychic energy to devote to the happier things in life. It can be done.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:40 PM on March 4, 2014 [7 favorites]

But right now we are alive, and in that moment I swear we were infinite.
From The Perks of Being a Wallflower
posted by alon at 9:55 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is posted in big black letters on my wall:

"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."
-- Andrew Carnegie

It's negative motivation, but some days it's a much-needed kick in the ass.
posted by Mchelly at 3:59 AM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

“Eighty percent of success is showing up” - Woody Allen
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:24 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let me know if you want me to post it.

Please do!
posted by ratherbethedevil at 6:45 AM on March 5, 2014

May I love and accept myself just as I am.
posted by ohohcyte at 6:46 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok, this one is really idiosyncratic and super nerdy, but I have "The Light does not abandon its champions" taped to my bathroom mirror.

It's a quote from the end of a very long World of Warcraft questline where you're attempting to cure a paladin from a magical plague, inspired by a developer's brother and his struggle against cancer. You travel to multiple continents and planets -- literally every corner of this virtual space -- searching for a cure.

As the quest goes on it becomes increasingly desperate -- nothing is working and this plague turns people into mindless, brutally cruel zombies. All signs are pointing to the quest ending with the player having to slay the paladin or something equally horrible. But he has a profound faith in the Light -- the pantheistic force of All Things Good in the Warcraft universe. And at the end of the questline, when the paladin eventually succumbs to his disease, creatures that are essentially ineffable beings of pure Light descend from on high to personally escort him to the afterlife.

And that line is what one of the beings tells the player before it vanishes -- The Light does not abandon its champions. It's a reminder that nothing is ever truly hopeless.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present- I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm?- But this is more pleasant.- Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do that which is according to thy nature?

From the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a personal favorite.
posted by mmmbacon at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

Except I don't include the inner eye part but instead "I will turn to see..."
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

- Franz Kafka, aphorism 104b
posted by spasm at 4:32 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ok here it is. It's not eloquent, it's crass, but it does the job every day :-)

"Wake up every morning
and tell yourself you're a badass bitch from hell
and that no one can fuck with you
and then
don't let anybody fuck with you!"

Not sure where it originated from, and it helps to have it in large, bold print.

It motivates me to get things done, makes me self confident, and not care what anyone thinks.
posted by canda at 4:53 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Don't stop when the hell comes."
posted by alchemist at 6:04 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

This about sums it up
posted by lalochezia at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The book Transform Your Life by Zen teacher Cheri Huber has a different quote for every day, plus an optional awareness assignment. If you have an iPhone, the app gives you the entire book for free. A few screenshot examples.
posted by Lexica at 6:05 PM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

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