Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why Read Inspirational Quotes?

Maybe you've heard this one:

"What does it profit a man to have gained the whole world, and to have lost his soul?" - Jesus Christ

Inspirational quotes and sayings from the present day or centuries past, can inspire and instruct us. This is true regardless of the religious or spiritual tradition they come from. Nor do religious or spiritully-oriented individuals have a monopoly on useful words. Quotes that strike at the truth of the matter can come from scoundrels, saints, and ordinary people.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excelence, then, is not an act, but a habit" - Aristotle

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old. Seek what they sought." - Basho

Why Read Inspirational Quotes?

Philosophies and arguments often use logic in an attempt to "capture" truth in a net of words to build systems of knowledge, or to satify egos. Logic is important, but when mis-used it leads to confusion. Inspirational sayings cut through the fog and point at the truth, so you can see it for yourself.

Imagine a choice: do what you love and possibly fail, or wait a few more years. Now, outside of mathematics, virtually all reasoning is tainted with rationalization, so you can support whatever you decide with "logical arguments," right? No wonder we're often confused and demotivated! How can we trust our own reasoning, if it just finds a logical construct for whichever fear or other feeling is strongest!

Then you read an inspirational quote:

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take." - Wayne Gretzky

Can you see how this hockey metaphor might touch you precisely because it isn't a logical argument? It just points at a truth you can see for yourself: You can't get what you want without "taking that shot." Seeing the truth is far more motivating than arguing it. That's the value of reading inspirational quotes.

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