Books, Quotes, Videos, and Music
Read something that inspires you
Among many other things, a book has the power to entertain, inform, and inspire you. So if you’re looking for inspiration, go find a book that does exactly that. It doesn’t even have to be a book; it can be a poem, an essay, a religious text, whatever gets the job done for you. Everyone’s different.
Inspiration can be found in anything from the Bible, Confucius’ Analects, and Emerson’s Essays, to the Fountainhead, Tuesdays with Morrie, and Think and Grow Rich. Personally, I am particularly partial to Emerson and Confucius, and have even created a list of recommended reading. You’re welcome.
Below I’ve provided a concise list of quotations from some of the texts I have recommended. Though it is easy to find lists of quotations online, it’s way more rewarding to assemble your own collection of quotes from the books you love. Once you’ve done this, you can always go back and browse through when you feel the need to get inspired.
From the Analects of Confucius:
“By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.”
“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
“We take greater pains to persuade others that we are happy than in endeavoring to think so ourselves”
“Worry not that no one knows you; seek to be worth knowing.”
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
From Essays by Emerson:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”
“Always do what you are afraid to do.”
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
From the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.”
“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
“Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
From the works of Oscar Wilde:
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
“I am not young enough to know everything.”
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”
“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”
From the Autobiography of Malcolm X:
“My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
“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.”
-Invictus, by William Ernest Henley
Go ahead and memorize that.
Watch something that inspires you
For those who don’t have the attention span to sit down and read a book, an easy way to get inspired is by finding videos or movie clips that inspire you or get you pumped. Check out films like The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, or The Dead Poet’s Society. Or Fight Club, or Gladiator. The TED Talks are also a great resource for stimulating and inspirational material. Find a few clips that lift your spirits and fill you with energy, and BOOM. Bookmark the hell out of them for future reference.
Here are a few examples. First, Steve Jobs’ Commencement Address at Stanford:
Next, Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator, voted one of the greatest movie monologues in history by film.com:
Last, in one of my favorite TED Talks, Benjamin Zander demonstrates the power of classical music:
I strongly recommend the TED Talks. More can be found at TED.com.
Listen to music that gets you pumped
As Aldous Huxley once said, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” The pain of the cliche of starting a paragraph with a quote is not lost upon me. It’s something English teachers always tell students not to do, but I’ve always wanted to try it. God, this is so exhilaratingly satisfying.
You know what else is exhilarating and satisfying? Music. (See what I did there?)
So make use of it! Everyone loves music. Even Nietzsche the crazy philosopher loved music almost as much as he loved consonants. “Without music, life would be a mistake,” he said. So make a playlist of music that pumps you up. For example:
- Who Gon’ Stop Me – Jay Z/Kanye
- Til I Collapse – Eminem
- Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
- Killing in the Name Of – Rage Against the Machine
- Hysteria – Muse
- Somebody Told Me – Killers
- Troublemaker – Weezer
- Chop Suey – System of a Down
- The Final Countdown – Europe
Reddit also created a list of music to pump you up here on Spotify.
Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” That’s right. I finished with a quote, too.
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