Motivation

THE MEANING OF MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES

HOW TO USE MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES

FEBRUARY 2021

“Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.” – Napoleon Hill.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

Introduction

In the era of social media, in which we are bombarded by motivational quotes wherever we go, in this fast-paced world where we sometimes feel overwhelmed and need a quick fix, a little something to help us move forward that helps us get up every morning and not only that, but get up every morning with determination, people may feel fed up with the constant presence of inspirational quotes in their lives.

Perhaps even you feel that inspirational quotes are a cliché and that everyone with a few minutes of time feels the need to push others to keep going and sharing inspirational quotes may seem a new Olympic sport to many. But do inspirational quotes really help?

Surely there must be a reason behind their popularity, behind all those “work hard”, “key to success”, “quotes for work”, “quotes about life” that seem to be popping up all over the place?

Can a set of words of wisdom strung together that you observe as soon as you turn on your phone really change your day and your life and, ultimately, change the world?

Can Jim Rohn really motivate you in your business endeavours? Can Tony Robbins really promote a new mindset that will allow you to feel like you can move mountains, innovate like Steve Jobs, write books like Napoleon Hill, guide others with your reflections like Ralph Waldo Emerson, or rise up in the political world like Winston Churchill?

Can they make sure that you work hard, can they serve as stepping stones for success, can they actually help you realise that it is never too late, can they provide you with keys to success, can someone else with a few short words of wisdom grant you the ability to change the world?

Or do they simply act as a pastime for people who feel that just by reading them every day, you will reach for the stars and achieve the levels of success you may only dream of, similarly to the likes of Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Jim Rohn or Eleanor Roosevelt?

Or is success reserved only for others? Is it true that it is never too late and that there is a best way to achieve great things?

Can we really claim that if you really want something from the bottom of your heart and never let anyone stop you from reaching your goals, dreams, and aspiration, that it will happen? And that motivational quotes that may seem superfluous to some but a lifeline for others can play an important role if you truly want something?

Motivation has been one of the most frequently used and propagated terms in recent human history, discussed by the likes of great thinkers and practitioners far and wide, such as the famous author of Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, motivational guru Anthony Robbins with his multitude of books, audios, videos, live and online self-development audios and videos, the TV host Oprah Winfrey and many others.

What drives human action, what compels us to take a step forward or step back, what makes us reach for the – literal or metaphorical – stars?

And – if you think about it –, what makes you wake up in the morning, leave the comfort of your warm bed, pursue your professional and private goals? As you can see, motivation starts with the first step.

You cannot reach for the stars until you leave your bed and pass the threshold of your home. How many “overnight successes” that have actually been years in the making do you know?

And you do not have to think of great historical and contemporary figures in our societies, just remember how many times you did something just slightly out of your reach, how many times your pain became so unbearable that the pleasure of maintaining your status quo was no longer an option?

But before delving into one of today’s hottest topics, motivational quotes or, as some like to call them, inspirational quotes, let’s discuss the origin of the two words composing the term motivational quote – motivation and quote – first.

You can also look forward to a discussion on the reasons behind the importance of motivational quotes in our own lives.

Last but not least, a selection of quotes on various topics (life, success, and work, respectively) by the likes of Henry Ford, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, Babe Ruth, John D. Rockefeller, Ayn Rand, Tony Robbins, Pablo Picasso, Wayne Dyer to push you forward awaits.

Let’s begin!

The MD Team

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Definition and origin of motivation

Readers familiar with Romance languages and their predecessor, Latin, will easily be able to discern the root of the concept and term itself. ‘Movere’ stands for ‘to move’ in Latin (and also modern-day Italian) while ‘motive’ in English and many other languages means why you do what you do, as stated on the motivationisfundamental blog (motivationisfundamental.blogspot.com).

Basically, the word motivation is composed of two parts: motivate and -ion. According to the Online etymology dictionary, its meaning as “act or process of furnishing with an incentive or inducement to action” stems from 1873; it might have been borrowed from German where the word was attested as early as 1854. Its psychological use as “inner or social stimulus for an action” stems from 1904.

Motivate as a verb stands for “to stimulate toward action, act as the inciting cause of” (from motive and -ate) which dates back to 1863, it might have been modelled on the French motiver or the German motivieren (both meaning ‘to motivate’). The suffix to the English noun motivation,   -ion is a word-forming element that is attached to verbs to create nouns (from French -ion, or directly from Latin -ionem) and a common suffix in English to form abstract nouns from verbs, thus creating the noun motivation from the verb motivate.

The verb motivate is composed of two parts: its first one is motive which can be used both as a noun and adjective:

  • motive as a noun in English originating from the late 14th century stood for “something brought forward, a proposition, assertion, or argument” (this sense has since become obsolete). Motive derives from Old French motif (will, drive, motivation), whereas the adjective is used as a noun and literally means “moving” which, in turn, derives from Medieval Latin motivus (moving, impelling), which, in turn, derives from the Latin motus (moving, motion) – the past participle of movere (to move; deriving from the Proto-Indo-European root meue- or “to push away”). The meaning of motive as “that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way, mental state or force which induces an action of volition” derives from the early 15th century. Hence it stands for “design or object one has in any action”;
  • motive as an adjective in its meaning as “having control of motion, causing motion, having power to move someone or something” derives from the late 14th century. The word was adopted from the Old French motif (moving) or directly from Medieval Latin motivus (moving, impelling) – the past principle stem of movere (to move; originating from the Proto-Indo-European root meue- or “to push away”);

The suffix to the verb motivate (motive + -ate), -ate is the verbal suffix for Latin verbs in -are, identical with -ate.

Old English formed verbs from adjectives by adding a verbal ending but with time, in early Middle English, the difference between the adjective and verb in adjectives, such as dry, empty, warm, etc., disappeared, but because English was used to the identity of adjectival and verbal forms of a word, it started to simply make verbs from Latin past participial adjectives without changing their form (which also led to the verb motivate) and it became custom to English Latin verbs from their past participle stems after English started to massively adopt Latin-based words in the 16th century.

If we have a look at the hypothetical root of the Latin movere, we can see that meue is the Proto-Indo-European root meaning to “push away” that forms all or part of several words associated with motivation, such as emotion, momentum, motion, motive, movement, mobility and motility.

Evidence for its existence is provided by kama-muta in Sanskrit (moved by love) and probably mivati (pushes, moves), the Greek ameusasthai (to surpass), amyno (push away), Latin movere (move, set in motion).

It is rather interesting to observe how a root that is suggested to have meant to push away has also led to the birth of the Latin verb movere used for moving or setting in motion and, as English turned to Latin to boost its word count in the Middle Ages, to the creation of both the English verb to motivate and the noun and adjective motive that have both resulted in the creation of the noun motivation.

The adjective “motivational” that consists of “motivation” and the suffix -al (which is used in English to transform nouns into adjectives) is thus associated with the meaning “of motivation”.

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Origing and definition of “quote”

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the noun quote originates from the verb quote which originates from the late 14th century in the sense of “to mark (a book) with chapter numbers or marginal references”; the verb itself can be traced back to Old French (coter), Medieval Latin (quotare – “distinguish by numbers, number chapters”) and, ultimately, Latin (quotus – “which in order? what number (in sequence); quot “how many”, from PIE “kwo-ti” and “kwo”).

Its meaning in the sense of giving a reference and citing as an authority from the 1570s developed into “to copy out and repeat exact words in the 1670s.

The modern spelling with “qu-“ originates from the early 15th century. The same verb can also be used for providing a price estimate for the provision of goods or services (“to state the price of a commodity” dates back to 1866) which won’t be of interest in this article.

As such, quote as a noun developed into meaning “a quotation” (1885) from the verb “quote”. Its meaning of “a marginal reference” dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.  

Quotation means “numbering” as of the mid-15th century and later, in the 1530s, refers to “marginal notation”. The noun deriving from “quote – verb” as referred to above derives from Medieval Latin “quotationem – nominative quotation”, past participle of quotare – “to number”. “Quoting” dates back to the 1640s, whereas “passage quoted” from the 1680s.

kwo- or kwi- is a Proto-Indo-European root which constitutes the stem of relative and interrogative pronouns and is also hypothesised to serve as the basis for “quote”. Evidence of its existence: Sanskrit kah “who, which;” Avestan ko, Hittite kuish “who;” Latin quis/quid “in what respect, to what extent; how, why,” qua “where, which way,” qui/quae/quod “who, which;” Lithuanian kas “who;” Old Church Slavonic kuto, Russian kto “who;” Old Irish ce, Welsh pwy “who;” Old English hwa, hwæt, hwær, etc.

  • According to Dictionary.com, quote holds several meanings. For the purpose of our article, we will be reviewing solely those relevant for the topic at hand:
  • According to Dictionary.com, quote holds several meanings. For the purpose of our article, we will be reviewing solely those relevant for the topic at hand:

According to vocabulary.com to quote means to repeat someone’s words, attributing them to their originator”; “the word quote is sometimes used as shorthand for quotation, a passage of speech or writing that’s repeated word for word”.

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Importance of motivational quotes in our lives

Why are motivational quotes so important in this age and time? Why are inspirational quotes so popular on social media and why has the “New Age” movement adopted motivational quotes in its very fabric?

Let’s begin the discussion on the importance of motivational quotes in the reason behind their popularity – if you really think about it, contemporary humans are under stress all of the time. And we all pretty much own a smartphone and scroll through our social media accounts on a daily basis.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense both in terms of time and practicality to look for inspiration in small dosages and by following the lead of people that we feel have made it on a break from work or school. Not to mention that motivational seminars held both offline and online may break the bank of the everyday person and require a greater effort not only in financial but also in temporal terms.

Inspirational quotes, on the contrary, are available at your fingertips on your smartphone in a matter of moments, provide a quick fix for the day, set the scene on how to never give up, how hard work pays off, how to better pull your life back on track, and all of that – free of charge.

You can also look them up by topic (quotes about life, quotes for work, quotes for success, words of wisdom, work, school, hard work, failures, discouragement and failure, motivational quotes to inspire) or by person that you admire and look up to (Walt Disney, Henry David Thoreau, Maya Angelou, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, Henry Ford, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Ayn Rand or others).

Perhaps you want to become a successful basketball player like Michael Jordan and wish to achieve his level of success. Perhaps you wish to learn how to speak in front of TV cameras like Oprah Winfrey.

Perhaps you would like to become the next Pablo Picasso of the artistic world. No matter whether you consider motivational quotes clichés and irrelevant or a way of life that helps you get up in the morning and go to bed at night with a sense of purpose and satisfaction, there are various reasons for their popularity and why so many individuals use them every day. Don’t let anyone tell you that it cannot be done.

If other people have done it before you and have learnt their lesson that they are willing to share in order to pave the way to your success and happiness, why not take advantage?

Turn on your phone and learn. Nevertheless, what you do with the quotes, whether you follow through and ultimately find ways to be inspired by someone else not only in their words but also in their actions, is up to you. Never give up the good that motivational quotes provide you with and stick to your guns and keep going.

Let’s now review what various authors have identified as the reasons behind the importance of motivational quotes in our lives.

Motivational quotes according to Elle Smith

  • According to Elle Smith, quotes are important for us due to various reasons:
  • Quotes are useful for everyone as thoughts are important for humanity as they provide us with the time to process ideas and to reflect on our decisions. Successful people are frequently inspired in life by successful thoughts; you have probably noticed how inspirational quotes empower people for success; in our fast-paced world, we need inspirational quotes to provide us with a quick fix that allows us to motivate us to strive for success.
  • Quotes appeal to the subconscious mind which is of relevance for our success and life in general and plays a very important role in our decision-making process. An inspirational quote may immediately change the thought process and shift you in a positive direction in order to uplift you in various ways. As inspirational quotes usually take up only a small amount of time, they can be quickly absorbed and reflected and acted on.
  • Quotes also cure procrastination that we have all dealt with at some point or other in life. You may become so preoccupied with your thoughts throughout the day that you may feel you aren’t moving forward, whereas a quick quote may instantly help you shift towards action.
  • Quotes also help cure feelings of depression because they change your mindset immediately. Read inspirational quotes on a daily basis and they will definitely uplift you in ways you may not have considered possible in your life, not to mention how much cheaper they turn out to be compared to having to visit a psychologist. Just Google “quotes for life” and you will be all set.
  • Quotes also bring a smile to your face and evoke a feeling of positivity even hours later. People pursuing success have a winning smile that helps them get going whenever a motivational fix is required.
  • Quotes are also free and easy. As you can see, inspirational and motivational quotes are the new language used by people from all walks of life to boost their popularity. Not to mention that they are free of charge. Don’t let yourself be limited by a lack of financial resources or time. Inspirational quotes are available all the time, everywhere, every corner you may look in.
  • Quotes have also become popular in the 20th and 21st centuries. Why? According to Elle Smith (ibid.), “humanity is experiencing extraordinary times where there is global unrest, conflict and pressures in everyday life.” In the past, quotes used to remain in the background but our complex problems have brought about the need to reflect on life in a fast-paced way with simple and fast solutions. Quotes seem to have transformed into a way of quickly fixing any problems in life we may experience without having to consult a therapist or other professional.
  • Motivational quotes are important for everyone because inspirational quotes provide us with words of wisdom when we need them the most. You can always do better in life and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And the perfect solution? Motivational quotes.

Motivational quotes according to Remez Sasson

  • According to Remez Sasson, the top 10 reasons why you need to read motivational quotes and be inspired by them to achieve success in both your private and personal life are as follows:
  • Motivational quotes are there to encourage you and motivate you. They quickly change your mood in a matter of seconds and help you see that you don’t have to despair.
  • Motivational quotes help you take action. As mentioned several times above, motivational quotes are free-of-charge quick go-to fixes providing inspiration by successful people on how to move forward in various areas of life that can be reached through your smartphone, social media and a multitude of websites containing thousands upon thousands of motivational quotes on various topics by various individuals. And perhaps those few words are just what you need to push forward.
  • Positive quotes are there to help you stay positive and hopeful. When you find yourself struggling, perhaps a short quote by someone who you look up to or who has achieved what you want to achieve can provide you with the encouragement you need not to give up.
  • Motivational quotes provide you with insight and wisdom. Don’t underestimate the power of a few short words contained in motivational quotes that can contain such powerful messages in such small dosages in helping you achieve great things. Perhaps you may end up reading exactly the motivational quotes you needed to perform great work and to never doubt your capabilities.
  • Motivational quotes offer you hope that you can be inspired in your life and find a way forward just by adopting a simple solution to inspire you for greatness. They may turn out to be beacons of light in your life when you need them to be.
  • Motivational quotes bring light and happiness. Try reading motivational quotes when you get up, before you go to bed and throughout your day, every day, and notice how reading them will change your attitude and help you see what you’ve got to get or where you are going to go.
  • Motivational quotes are intended to teach you and help you implement what you have learnt into your life. Don’t ever underestimate the knowledge you can gain from simple motivational quotes.
  • Motivational quotes help you adopt an out-of-the-box mindset by understanding life and acknowledging that it can be seen from a wider perspective. This way, they broaden your horizons and help you become better.
  • Motivational quotes change your mood when you feel down. Don’t stay depressed, read a few inspirational quotes to uplift you and help you get back on your feet.
  • Motivational quotes inspire positive thinking and action. Inspirational quotes help you feel optimistic about life and reading them every day can also lead to inspired action to improve your life.

Motivational quotes according to Philipe Borges

  • According to Philipe Borges, there are 22 reasons why daily inspirational quotes are so important in your life:
  • The knowledge from an entire lifetime can be condensed in a few words. How wonderful is it that you can gain knowledge that someone else has amassed throughout their entire life in a matter of minutes?
  • Motivational quotes can help you understand a specific subject better. If you find inspirational quotes on specific subjects, you can obtain various points of view on something you are interested in and need assistance with. This way, you get to learn from others who have already mastered what you want to master and who have helped pave the way for you to make it easier to implement in life.
  • Motivational quotes remind you when you forget something important for your life that can propel you forward. Carry motivational quotes with you in a notebook, keep them on your smartphone or write them down on a sheet of paper that you stick to your bathroom mirror to see first thing in the morning and the last thing before you go to bed.
  • Motivational quotes allow you to obtain words of wisdom from people that you cannot access otherwise. Motivational quotes allow you to obtain knowledge from people who may already be dead or you cannot easily contact them to ask for advice on a specific subject of life you are interested in. By using their inspirational quotes, you can remain connected to them in a simple and free-of-charge way and learn from these brilliant minds.
  • “Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become who you are”. Inspirational quotes are thoughts that someone has expressed by way of words and which can thus help you act and transform you into the person in your life that you wish to become.
  • Motivational quotes help you increase your beliefs as they provide you with confidence to pursue a specific course of action and assure you that you are on the right path in life.
  • Motivational quotes also put your mind to work. Inspirational quotes help you keep your mind occupied but not overwhelmed as short thoughts, condensed in motivational quotes, are more easily absorbed.
  • Motivational quotes can change your state of mind instantly. If you are focusing on something sad or negative, try a quick fix with motivational quotes to uplift you and get you out of your funk.
  • Motivational quotes are a repetition that grabs your attention. The art of repetition is an excellent exercise for your brain that allows you to create familiarity and take action. Repeat the motivational quotes you wish your brain to act upon.
  • Motivational quotes support the meaning of your writings. Motivational quotes can also be used to create powerful speeches and texts, allowing you to highlight a point you wish to make.
  • Motivational quotes pay homage to a person you relate to and allow you to share their wisdom with other people that may benefit from it in their life.
  • If motivational quotes are used as part of your daily routine, they allow you to become consistent. Success is brought about also by consistency and doing hard work not only when it is convenient but all the time. Consistency requires repetition and inspirational quotes repeated over and over again can help you shift your mindset into a consistency-based thought process that allows you to obtain success.
  • Motivational quotes can be easily shared and go viral instantly. People may not read an entire book you may recommend but inspirational quotes are short and concise, making them perfect in our contemporary busy lives where everything is needed quickly and with style.
  • Motivational quotes can define your life’s mission in short and help you focus on what is important by not requiring you to elaborate in big words and long sentences. “Keep it simple stupid” or KISS comes to mind.
  • Motivational quotes can be your support when you need one. You may not be always able to reach a trusted friend or family member when in need of advice but inspirational quotes can be accessed instantly – they can help you when no one else can or is able to.
  • Motivational quotes help you stay focused on your life goals. With the sheer amount of information flooding your life on a daily basis that may only serve to distract you, inspirational quotes prove efficient in sharing their message in a short and concise way that does not take too much of your time.
  • Motivational quotes can be an advice from someone who has already overcome what you are trying to overcome. Chances are, someone has already experienced what you are experiencing and they have created a motivational quote to help you resolve it without having to bang your head against the wall trying to resolve the issue at hand. Look it up.
  • Motivational quotes are easily accessed as you can find them in public libraries or online via your smartphone or computer. There are free resources available everywhere you look. Use them.
  • Motivational quotes can be a form of communication with others. Motivational quotes can help you relate to other people and share your point of view via quotes of someone else that you and other like-minded individuals can use a point of reference. They may even help you reach an agreement.
  • Motivational quotes can simplify complex ideas as they allow you to share your message in a short and concise way which is perfect when you and your audience are pressed for time in life.
  • Motivational quotes are easy to memorise and to use daily. Motivational quotes are short and can be used to programme your subconscious mind to start unconsciously acting the way you want it to.

5 best quotes about life

  • “Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows.” – Walt Disney
  • “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
  • “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
  • “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth

5 best quotes about success

  • “Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.” – C. S. Lewis
  • “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  • “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Flaming enthusiasm backed up by horse sense and persistence is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” – Dale Carnegie
  • “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

5 best quotes about work

  • “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
  • “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
  • “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” ― George Lorimer
  • “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie.
  • “Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” – Chris Grosser