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May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Inspirational Quotes - Spur for Inquiry

There are three kinds of aphorisms (quotations): "I could have said that," "I should have said that," and "no way - that's dumb." Each sort has its place in our lives.

I could have said that: Take a common idea, and say it with a witty twist of phrase - you have an "I could have said that" quote. Take the Benjamin Franklin quote "when in doubt, don't." There isn't much to argue with there. While we appreciate Ben's way with words, it's a fairly obvious idea to most of us.

Often what is an "I could have said that" quote for me is a "no way - that's dumb" quote for you. "Death is a fearful thing," said William Shakespeare. Again, Will has a way with words, but what of the obvious truth of his aphorism? For many people, it is simply unarguable that death is something to fear. For those with unshakable faith or a zest for living boldly, however, Will's saying is just plain foolishness.

I should have said that: These sorts of aphorisms introduce ideas that are new to us, but which we receive favorably. The words of Meister Eckhart "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." is possibly an example of an "I should have said that" quote. Unlike "when in doubt, don't," placing gratitude as our ultimate communication with God is not immediately obvious, and yet, at least for me, this is an "I should have said that" aphorism.

Of course, every aphorism is arguable for some people, so just think of a quote that, when you first heard it, you said "wow, I never thought of that, but it's SO true." That is one of your "I should have said that" quotes.

No way - that's dumb: For me, the "no way - that's dumb" aphorisms are the most valuable quotes, because they get me thinking. Clearly, many of my "no way - that's dumb" quotes are either obvious common sense or an inspirational revelation for someone else. That's the whole point. Each of us receives any particular aphorism in one of these three ways.

Whenever we hear or read a "no way - that's dumb" quote, our opportunity is to recognize that we are hearing someone's carefully considered wisdom. Not only did an individual speak that pithy thought, but enough others valued that saying as sufficiently worthy and insightful to pass it along to us.

Why was this expression of values worthy of repetition? What did it's admirers see that I don't? What is there for me to learn here? Is this an idea for me to consider adopting, or can I utilize this aphorism to better understand the rationale for my own values, and my reasons for rejecting the wisdom of this particular quote?

Quotations are dead unless a spur for inquiry.
- jlh

The greatest value of quotations and sayings is to get us thinking about new ideas. Let's take all aphorisms as a spur for inquiry. Let those ideas with which we disagree start us thinking, talking and questioning, but also let our comfortable, familiar, and inspiring quotes become a source of questioning. Remember that each of our comfortable inspiring quotes is a "no way - that's dumb" bit of foolishness for some other equally conscious citizens of our planet. Open minds - open hearts.

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Inspirational Quotes are a Great Start for You Day

A great life consists of keeping your eyes on the distant mountains of your life purpose while continuing to put one foot in front of the other along the path of everyday life. However, it is all too easy to lose sight of the goal and get lost in everyday frustrations, angers and disappointments.

Including daily reminders of your life purpose in each day's routine can help keep your focus on your goals. Great reminders can include meditation, prayer, yoga, positive affirmations, and also daily inspirational quotes.

Inspirational quotes are typically fragmentary thoughts, taken out of context, that are best used to get you thinking about their underlying meaning and about the big commitments and values of your life. As an example, let's take a look at President Franklin Roosevelt's quote, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." Those words were a part of President Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address on March fourth 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. But is it necessary to understand the context in order to appreciate the thought and apply it in your life? Not only is the context not necessary, but in my opinion, it actually makes it more difficult to focus the inspiration on your own issues around fear.

Your fears are not about the depression of 1933, or about the Second World War, which many people think Roosevelt was referring to. Whatever your fears, it is inspirational to be reminded that fear, especially the formless fear of the unknown, is the true enemy of living a joyful and productive life.

As another example, consider Helen Keller's words, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." Helen Keller overcame being deaf and blind from the age of 19 months to become an author and social activist. In that context, the quote has an extra "wow" factor - that someone bearing those burdens could still speak of an ideal life as a daring adventure. Nonetheless, as an inspirational quote to guide your own life, Keller's words, independent of their context, are a powerful reminder to focus on the big picture - what you came here to do.

There is often disagreement over the source of an inspirational quote. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. may or may not have said, ""Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Mark Twain quite likely did not say, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do." Does it make an inspirational quote less meaningful or less inspirational because the author is unknown? For me, the value of inspirational quotes is mostly in the words, and how I can apply them to my own life, rather than in historical context. I find the Faith quote and the Twenty Years quote to be two of the most inspiring and motivating quotes I have found - whoever their authors may have been.

Inspirational quotes can be uplifting or motivational, spiritual or practical. Some of the most inspiring quotes, such as the Faith quote attributed to Martin Luther King Jr., share several of these qualities. For maximum impact on your life and goals, try to include a variety of types of inspirational quotes.

Consider beginning the practice of starting each day by reading and contemplating inspirational quotes.

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Please visit www.jlhuie.com often for quotes to inspire, motivate, comfort, or nudge you to look at life in new ways. Each day there are several new quotes on a common theme, which might be finding comfort, living life to the fullest, being of service to the less fortunate, giving thanks for your blessings, or a myriad of other topics. I hope you also like each day's picture-quote. Please let my know what you think of my Daily Quotes by emailing me at jlh @ sail7 .com

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