Real support for real change

Sometimes, during hard times, all it takes is a little inspiration to help us through. I hope you enjoy this selection of motivational quotes. You may be surprised how transforming it is to keep one or two of your favourites in the forefront of your mind.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” Andre Gide

In order to move forwards in our lives, we usually have to step out of our comfort zone. Although this is scary, it is only by continually stretching ourselves that we fulfil the need that we all have to live a life of meaning and purpose in which gain a sense of worthwhile accomplishment.  So, in order to stay emotionally and psychologically healthy, it would seem that

“There is the risk you cannot afford to take, [and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.” Peter Drucker

A life that is always certain, and that demands of us only what we are sure we can easily accomplish, is often one that can lead towards boredom and depression.

“Success means we go to bed at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others…Sharing our gifts is what makes us happy.” Marianne Williamson

No matter how great it is, success that serves only ourselves is remarkably unfulfilling. We need to have our focus outwards, to feel part of a community and of the world at large, in order to really thrive. According to Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, it was those who looked out for others as well as themselves who survived best in the World War II concentration camps.

“The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core strength within you that survives all hurt.” Max Lerner

The most fundamental part of us, our awareness or consciousness, does not itself get pained or hurt, feel either sadness or joy; it simply is. It is the part of us that witnesses our ego experiencing the rainbow of emotions, but itself remains constant. Some athletes use this understanding to push through barriers of exhaustion and pain to greater achievement: the awareness that observes the body’s pain is not itself in pain.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going….Never give up. Never, never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill

There are times when we can be our own worst enemy. If we allow ourselves to become discouraged in times of difficulty, it is all too easy to give up – and then there we are, stuck in the middle of a nightmare. It is during the darkest times, that we in fact need to be our most motivated.

“Take your life into your hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” Erica Jong

It is so much easier lay our troubles at someone else’s door rather than our own. And yet when we do that, we also give that other person our power. Once we take responsibility, we acknowledge that we have the power to make a difference in our lives. How much better to move our lives forward than to sit in the same place hoping for “justice” or “revenge”.

“What counts is not the enormity of the task, but the size of the courage.” Matthieu Ricard

Because the journey is more important than the goal, and when we are stepping into our courage, the experience cannot help but mould us into deeper and wiser people. When we truly allow the process to be more important than the end result, then we can enter flow and use our skills and talents to their full.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” Rumi

It’s easy to get caught up in a life that is fulfilling others’ expectations of us, rather than our own. Exhaustion is a good indicator of this. However, when we’re living our own dreams, the joy this brings us is not only life-affirming but also energising and invigorating.

“Next time there’s a storm, you need to open the front door and the back…don’t let your misfortunes find a home.”

“Call the Midwife”

How many of us our shaped by our bad experiences, allowing them to pull us around by our noses years after they are over? How much happier we’d be if we could let the winds of misfortune blow right through so that when the storm is over, we can stand tall again with no trace of bad weather left behind.

“The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another.” Jack Kornfield

Sometimes we can get lost in planning for and working towards are own goals and not pay sufficient attention to those around us. But our achievements are nothing if they only benefit ourselves and if we have no one with whom to share them.

“When you are master of your body, word and mind, you shall rejoice in perfect serenity.” Shabkar

How much of the time are decisions made in our life by our desires, addictions, dislikes and hatreds? How often does the course of a conversation or day turn on a thoughtless word? And after the heat of the moment, whether of desire or anger, there’s always an eternity to regret…Learning to master these yearnings inside of us is the work of a lifetime but the rewards, even from small steps in the right direction, are vast.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Joseph Goldstein

And for those of us who have tried it, we know how difficult it is, and what strength and perseverance it takes – to both surf in the sea and to ride the waves of our daily lives. And yet, even before we’ve mastered the necessary skills of trust, balance, acceptance and composure, we can sense by watching others how riding in harmony with whatever presents itself carries us and takes us forward, stops us from sinking underneath the weight of the waves.

“The greatest glory in living does not lie in never having fallen, but in rising every time you fall.” Nelson Mandela

And if ever there was anyone who walked their talk…When we how many others have already walked along the path, it becomes easier for us to get up and take the next step. However great our setback, however many there have been, the human spirit never dies – it is always there within us, waiting to be rekindled and to shine a light on our future endeavours.

“On the day that you were born, you began to die. Do not waste a single moment more!” Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

And, in those moments before you die, what will it be that you will want to look back to and say that you have achieved; what will be the qualities and attitudes within yourself that you will be grateful to have developed; by what principles will you have been proud to have lived?

What do you believe to be the single most important thing in the world? Whatever it may be, start cherishing and nurturing it now.

“Your mind can be a great servant, but a lousy master.” Anon

It’s vital to use your mind in the service of your dreams but, give it free rein, and it will lead you by the nose. A compulsive worrier and someone who uses their imagination to visualise and breathe into life their goals, both use the same innate gift; but whereas the second is in control of the gift, the first has let it run loose, dragging them down into fear and helplessness.

“Bring your attention to…[your emotional] pain as if you were gently comforting a child, holding it all in a loving and soothing attention.” Jack Kornfield

Often our instinct is to attempt to push our hurt away, or tense protectively around it. But then either it fights back, wanting to be heard, or it gets trapped within the tension. Once we find the courage to open to the pain and, without holding onto it or exaggerating it, extend loving compassion towards it,  so many times we find that it begins to dissolve and to lose its intensity.

“In that stillness – in that space between breaths, between thoughts, between lives – something is suddenly remembered, something it seems impossible ever to have forgotten. And in every fibre of our being we know that love is the only rational act of a lifetime.” Stephen Levine

How many of us give ourselves enough quiet time to notice what happens between our thoughts or between each breath? But to be rewarded with the certainty that love is our true essence, if only we can train ourselves to rest within it, is gift indeed.

“Wisdom is a view from on high, from the narrow path between two precipices, two extreme ideas.” Amin Maalouf

It’s only by finding ourselves in difficult, often treacherous, circumstances, and by finding our way through them, that we become people of greater substance: more understanding, more compassionate, more loving, with greater insight and judgement – more wise.

“Prayer is a scanning of the heavens for the chink through which angels travels and divinity looks on.” Thomas Moore (Psychotherapist)

As a society, we’re not as accustomed to prayer as we once were; many of us only pray in desperate circumstances, when everything else has failed us, and our prayer is full of want, perhaps even bargaining: “Please help me. I won’t ever do…again, if only you’ll help me now”. But how much richer would our lives be, if we were able to get beyond that attitude of quid pro quo, to quest for the mystery, the ineffable, bathe in its splendour and, in so doing, grow in its reflection.

“Greater awareness without greater self-compassion can be tough.” Miranda McPherson

It’s only by understanding ourselves that we can change and grow, and yet if we’re not kind, learning more about ourselves can be painful; without compassion, we are unlikely to want to go there. A good guide of how caring of ourselves we are, is to notice how judgemental we are of others. If we tend to have a private critical commentary  running on others, we can be sure we do the same with ourselves.

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” George Bernard Shaw

We all see things from our own perspective which is informed by not just our past experiences, but by how we have chosen to interpret them and what we have consequently chosen to believe about ourselves, others and the world at large. Remember that most of the time, what we tell ourselves is made up of precisely that – beliefs, not absolute truths. So, let’s choose our beliefs wisely, check regularly that they are not becoming clouded over by self-sabotaging emotions.

“The path that separates you from the garden of your desire,…is nowhere but in yourself.” Faouzi Skali

What’s behind us, and what’s in front of us, even with everything’s that’s going on around us, nothing is more important than what is going on within us. If our hearts and minds our clear, our attitudes are in line with our goals, then who knows what we may achieve – spiritually, or in the world of action.

“Do not forget: you are never faced with a trial that you cannot overcome.” Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

We all have a great depth of resources, most of which the majority of us rarely use, or are even aware that we possess. But rest assured, if a crisis comes, you do have sufficient strength with which to meet it.

“A new philosophy, a way of life, is not igven for nothing. It has to be paid dearly fo and only acquired with much patience and great effort.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We live in a culture of quick fixes. Often it’s so much easier to buy a replacement than to repair something old. More and more healing – of our bodies, minds, lives – is sold as being done quickly and with little effort. But deep, lasting change, takes work and a depth of commitment. This we shouldn’t be afraid of, or unwilling to give. Our minds can be changed in an instant, but the principles from which our unconscious responds are more durable and take greater effort to alter.

“Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words,/And never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson

Hope doesn’t bend to reason and logic, rational expectation; it’s components have amongst them: courage, joy, and an irrepressible love of life.

“…important forks in the road are usually not about choices that will show up on any public record; they are decisions and struggles to do with choosing love or fear; anger or forgiveness; pride or humility. They are soul-shaping choices.” Jean Shinoda Bolen

The attitude from which we act has such a profound effect on how our actions are received in the world.More fundamentally, our attitude determines the perspective from which we see the world and so defines the possibilities we imagine are available to us.

“Our so-called and imagined failures become the doorway to profound success in our lives – success that is…measured by…the currency of depth of being, compassion and wisdom.” Mariana Caplan

Of course, we all prefer our lives to go smoothly, to be happy and filled with fun. But, if we’re honest, those aren’t the times during which we learn a great deal about ourselves. The good times don’t make us stronger, more understanding and compassionate, or even more deeply interesting. It’s the difficult times that forge our characters into those that are admired, and not simply envied.

“This kind of compulsive concern with ‘I, me, and mine’ isn’t the same as loving ourselves…Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion, and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.” Sharon Salzberg

Many people confuse loving oneself with selfishness. But selfishness is more about greed, jealousy and envy, and in its disconnection from other people rarely leads to contentment or joy. However, when we truly love ourselves we find the strength and empathy from which we can not only give ourselves what we need to be happy, but also those around us which, in turn, increases further our own happiness.

“Do not go where the path may lead, but go where there is no path and leave a trail.” Henry David Thoreau

There never has been anyone with the same blend of gifts, skills and experiences as you, and there never will be. By definition, to be truly yourself, you have to forge a new path through life. If you don’t, you will be betraying yourself and will be cheating the world of all that you have to offer.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

You’re never going to feel completely ready to accomplish your ambitions; well, at least, not until you have accomplished them. Which is why it’s important to start right now; take the first step, however small, however ill-equipped you may imagine yourself to be. It’s only by doing it, that you’ll become more able to do it. Driving cross-country at night, the headlamps light the road only so far but, if you have faith and keep driving, you reach your destination.

“Isolation is the dreamkiller, not your attitude. No amount of positive thinking can replace information, encouragement and accountability. You need input and support from other people. They’ll tell you things you need to know, encourage and believe in you and keep you moving towards your dream.” Barbara Sher

We’re basically social creatures and we need the support and encouragement that interaction brings. But, more than that, we need the adjustment of perspective which it allows. Working in a bubble on our dreams provides no corrective influence. At some point, our projects have to prosper out there in the world, benefit and be appreciated by the people around us. They will be more robust for having, from the outset, been tempered by the world which they will serve.

“People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”

The ups and downs of life often extinguish that inner light, and it doesn’t seem important until something hits us that is completely overwhelming. By which point, it’s almost too late. Just as a storm light, or the light of a lighthouse is kept in readiness through the balmy summer days as much as through the winter, so we too need to tend to and nurture our inner resources so that they are they to be drawn on when the storm hits.