50 powerful motivational quotes (explained) from the finest in human life
This story first appeared on the happiness blog by amarvani. Check it out for more stories around happiness.
Motivation drives us when we feel low and not at the best of ourselves. Great people have lived great lives before us, and have said things that could spur us to action. Here is a list of 100 motivational quotes to drive you to live your best life no matter where you stand in life right now.
50. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
This is one of the most powerful motivational quotes ever said by anyone. This has a deep message which is not only political since Gandhi lived a political life. If you want to achieve anything in art or business, the message is do what would bring about the change you seek.
49. “Love is a verb. Love — the feeling — is a fruit of love, the verb.” — Stephen Covey
Love is a verb. If the person you love doesn’t feel it, it’s not love. Love is action which eventually translates into a feeling. If you love someone, make them feel it. Their feeling is the outcome of your actions.
48. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”- ― George Bernard Shaw
This is one of the most beautiful motivational quotes I have read, and have it as my Facebook profile cover. The people who are unreasonable and believe in something in spite of the objections from the rest of the world actually end up making a dent in the world. They stand for something. Be unreasonable, since the reasonable and the conformist don’t achieve things that could change the world.
47. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” — Viktor Frankl
Meaning of life and purpose is what makes life worth living. There are people who have lived in extremely inhospitable conditions, but they went through life because they felt their lives and their work had meaning. Look for meaning in your life, and how to create it. Most people don’t and end up living superficial lives.
46. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison
Most people don’t pursue their dreams. Of those who do, most of them give up. We spend so much time in the pursuit of our dreams and people are closer to their dreams when they give up. Every failure teaches us something. When we leave in the middle of the journey, the fact is that we had travelled to the middle, and hence were closer to the goal than we were when we started. Do not ever quit on your dreams, till your last breath.
45. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” — Henry Ford
Henry Ford was one of the most successful people and industrialists the world has had. This motivational quote by him reflects the power of belief. If we believe we can achieve our dreams, we would make the effort to achieve them. If we think we can’t achieve them, we wouldn’t make any effort. Therefore, either way, we are right.
44. “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” — Michelangelo
Dream big. It is not easy to achieve big dreams but they say it takes the same amount of effort to think small, as it takes to think big. You are going to think anyway. Why not think big. Go after your wildest dreams, for after all, one life.
43. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life — think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” -Swami Vivekananda
There is beautiful book called The One Thing. It advocates doing one thing till you make that thing work, and doing something else only once the goal has been achieved. This is the power of focus. People who are able to achieve great things do that because they focus on one thing, and one thing only. This is the essence of this beautiful thought by Swami Vivekananda.
42. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
There is a beautiful documentary on Netflix about the life and career of Michael Jordan. He was obsessed with success and that’s why he succeeded. This quote is about how to succeed. If you want to succeed, sometimes, you have a fail a lot on the way. Failure is learning and lessons, and we cannot avoid them on the road to success. This is and would always be one of the most potent motivational quotes of all times.
41. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
Walt Disney is a figure of human folklore. He created the Disneyland and the legendary Disney brand, which stands for happiness. He emphasizes the importance of courage here, and that we cannot achieve anything worthwhile without courage. Where do we find courage? Inside of us. Nothing great was ever achieved without courage.
40. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
I remind myself of this quote quite often. I started following my dreams in the mid-30 and wondered quite often if that was too late. However, if I didn’t do it then, when would I do it? When would you do it? The best time to follow your dreams was 20 years back. Those 20 years are now gone, and you cannot recover them. The second best time is now. Get started today.
39. “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth
Imagine that life keeps putting you down again and again and you stand up every time. If you don’t give up in spite of falling down over and over again, at some point, later if not now, you will achieve your dreams and life would have to bow down to your persistence. Never give up on your dreams.
38. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” ― Helen Keller
If you are looking for a motivational quote on getting over your past, this is the one. Whenever one door closes, life opens another door but since we are stuck in the past, we keep looking at the door that’s closed. Life moves on, and so does time. We have no choice, but to move along with them.
37. “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
I absolutely agree with this motivational quote on happiness by the Dalai Lama. Happiness comes from our own actions and we need to create it every day. It’s not lying there somewhere to be discovered. We need to work on it every day.
36. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”― Neil Gaiman
The world needs stories where the righteous eventually wins. That is why some of the most powerful stories are mythological fiction where the God wins over mighty devils and dragons. Life is tough and all of us are fighting our own demons. We need inspiration to fight those demons and it comes from such fairy tales.
35. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”-Benjamin Franklin
This motivational quote by Benjamin Franklin would always be one of the most powerful things ever said about life. It says that we should live lives in a way that’s worth writing about. Or we should write something worth reading about-emphasizing the importance of substance in life. On second thoughts, I hope this post is worth your time.
34. “Some people die at 25, and aren’t buried until 75.”-Benjamin Franklin
What a poignant and powerful thought. This has a deep meaning about the kind of life most of us end up living. Does our life have purpose, meaning and substance? A lot of people live lives where they do the same thing for decades and their life doesn’t just change. They die long before they are buried.
33. “If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” -Jim Rohn
Now, that’s not for saying that an ordinary life is not a good life. In fact, an ordinary life with comforts is a good life, which most people live. It is only the few who are not comfortable with the ordinary end up attempting the extraordinary. In the process they risk the ordinary life, and put their entire existence at stake. Don’t do it unless you can withstand the risk. However, if you decide to go for it, go all in.
32. “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”- Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was one of the most influential men who ever lived and he said some things which have influenced the human society forever. This motivational quote is again on the lines of how our thinking affects our lives. People who change the world are, to begin with, crazy enough to think that they can do it.
31. “I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams.” — Oprah Winfrey
Oprah is a cultural figure in herself and has lived an extraordinary life. It takes a lot of courage to follow your own dreams and to follow them, and persist in follow them in spite of difficulties takes a lot of courage. That is courage that all of us need to live a life of our dreams.
30. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” -Albert Einstein
Simplicity is saying things in a way that anyone can understand them. Einstein also said that if you can’t explain something to a six year old, you haven’t understood it yourself. That’s a good test of simplicity, if we can explain to a kid. It is a great quote on the subject of being simple in our thought and communication.
29. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar
One of the reasons people search for motivational quotes quite often because motivation fades away. We need constant motivation to chase our dreams. Motivation, that ways is quite like bathing, we need it every day. The great thing about some of the most powerful quotes is that they are funny, as well as powerful.
28. “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader
Leadership is an important subject to learn if you want to inspire people. This beautiful implies that the job of leadership is to create more leaders and not more followers. Great leaders are not jealous of others, but supportive of others. If you are a leader, create more leaders. That makes the world a better place.
27. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain
Mark Twain was one of the most powerful figures in literature. This is one of my all-time favourite motivational quotes. The problem with the majority is mob thinking. When the mob becomes the opinion leader, there is nobody really in the mob who is thinking clearly. Every time you are a part of majority, think where you stand, and why.
26. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
The tragedy with life is that most people never reach a point where they know the purpose of their lives. If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life, you need to find out the purpose of your life. When you know it, your life will take on a different meaning, a meaning you would have created yourself.
25. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison
Thomas Edison was one of the most prolific inventors the world has had. He is considered an authority on science, and how to deal with failure. He said when he was asked how did feel about failing so many times while inventing the bulb, and he said that he hasn’t failed but found 10000 ways that did not work. Invention, therefore, is a process of discovering what doesn’t work, on the way to finding a way that works.
24. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”― Eleanor Roosevelt
We cannot achieve anything meaningful in life without being criticized. We would be criticized fiercely especially when we do things that are against the social grain. Therefore, do what your heart says is the right thing to do. That ways, at least you would have followed your heart.
23. “A ship in harbour is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd
Most people live safe lives, ensconced in the comforts of safety and security. However, a few are destined to live lives of risks and adventure because they believe in something that needs them to take a risk, or a few. They can’t not take risks, because they are built like that.
22. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill
One of the most powerful motivational quotes on not giving up came from Winston Churchill. If you are going through difficult circumstances, you must remember that they won’t last permanently. So, keep going, with faith, and you would come out of the tough times you face. All of us face hell in our lives. Those who keep working to come out of it, usually do.
21. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”― Helen Keller
Most people seek security and safety. The problem is life doesn’t any security. You could die today of a heart attack and you wouldn’t know what hit you. I have lost my job while having an education loan on me. People around the world are scared of losing their jobs. It has been 10 years since and I am alive. It didn’t kill me. There is no security in life. Don’t seek it. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
20. “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”- Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela knew something about not giving up. At one point in his life, he spent 27 years in jail to fight the apartheid regime in South Africa. He eventually succeeded because he kept himself alive during all those years. When he came out of the jail, he was 71 years old and the world had changed. However, did he succeed-hell, yes.
19. “It always seems impossible until it is done.”- Nelson Mandela
I could actually write a while article with motivational quotes by two of my greatest inspirational heroes- Nelson Mandela and Helen Keller. Both of them lived incredibly difficult and inspiring lives and there is just so much to learn from them. A man who spent over a quarter of his life in jail, and the rest fighting for freedom knows about how dreams are achieved. Please go ahead and read his autobiography. You will be a different person.
18. “It’s Not Whether You Get Knocked Down, It’s Whether You Get Up.”- Vince Lombardi
It is a given that you would be knocked down. You will fall. The difference between those who win and those who don’t is that the ones who win, don’t stay down, no matter how many times they fall. There is dignity in never staying down, even if you keep falling over and over again.
17. “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”- Aristotle
The reason I started studying and writing about happiness is because I do believe that happiness is the purpose of human life. We are born to be happy and it is our duty to do whatever it takes to figure out what makes us happy and then share it with the rest of the world. Only when we find our happiness, we can share it with others. So, figure out what makes you happy. This blog is full of posts around happiness. Read, and hopefully, I would have helped you in the journey of your happiness, which is the purpose of my life.
16. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover!”- Mark Twain
Mark Twain has appeared several times in this list of motivational quotes and that is testament to the fact that his words have inspired millions of people around the world. When you look back at your life, you would be sorry for the things that you did not do. So, please go ahead and do the things that you aspire to. Life is too short not to have a shot at your dreams.
15. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour.”- Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a legendary entrepreneur, and at the time of writing this, the richest man in the world. Once he was asked why he pursued working on Tesla and SpaceX, when he thought they would fail, and he said that when something is important enough, you do it, even when the likely outcome is failure. You should pursue it because you could succeed. I will make a separate list of entrepreneurship quotes. Please follow the blog so you are notified when that happens.
14. “Hold fast to your dreams, for if they die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”-Langston Hughes
I love thoughts which express the importance of dreams and ambitions so beautifully. This motivational quote does exactly that. When your dreams die, the life within you dies.
13. “Big things start small.”- Jeff Bezos
Well, this is not just a thought on entrepreneurship, although Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world and been the richest man for a long time. We need to have a long term view of our dreams. It takes a while for dreams to become reality.
12. “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”- Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein said some of the most powerful things about human life that should inspire all of us to find our originality. The fish cannot climb a tree and therefore, we cannot apply the same standards to two lives.
11. “Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.”- Bill Gates
Comparison takes away joy from life. More importantly, it doesn’t allow you to make the best of your life because you are not focused inwards, but outwards. The only reason I have used quotes by entrepreneurs here is because they have some of the most unique minds in the world.
10. “They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.”- Kahlil Gibran
The quotes that inspire us make us the kind of people we become. This motivational quote by Kahlil Gibran is one of the thoughts which sticks to your mind, and doesn’t leave. The word is indelible. It leaves an indelible impression on the mind. This is about freedom and the price of life. What would you sell your days for? Do not answer, but do think about it.
9. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”- Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was a women who personified kindness and compassion through her life. It is but obvious that she understood the power of love, and told us to spread love, wherever we do. So, spread love, wherever you go.
8. “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
This motivational quote, or rather an oath is from one of the finest books ever written in the history of English literature, the Atlas Shrugged. It has had a profound impact on my life, and the kind of person I am. It only makes sense that I include it here. Do not live for others. Do not ask others to live for you. That is part of the true essence of life.
7. “It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”- Thomas Fuller
If you are going through a difficult time and it seems to be getting darker, do not stop. This beautiful motivational quote reminds us over and over that the darkest hour of the night or life, comes just before light is about to break. Keep going through the darkness. The light is about to emerge.
6. “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.”- Ross Perot
Do no quit. You have never been this close to your goals. You worked so hard and staked so much. You are just there. It is too late to give up. Most people never even get started on the journey of their dreams. You did. Don’t give up. Figure out how to keep going. Do not give up.
5. “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”- James Watkins
It has taken me a lot of time to find some of the most powerful quotes on living life. This is the first time I have read motivational quote on persistence. It is so powerful and so beautiful. The river doesn’t break the rock in the first instance, but because it hits the rock over and over again. Nothing beats persistence in the course of life. You must persist because your dreams and your life depends on it.
4. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Everybody who has achieved anything worthwhile has felt fear. Fear bothers us and stops us from following our dreams. It makes us weak inside. The courageous men and women who do brave things do feel fear as well, but they do what is important in spite of the fear. There is always something more important than fear.
3. “Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.” — Moshe Dayan
Freedom is one of the most important values for a happy life. True freedom is the ability to live the kind of life you want to live without interruption and interference. Nations have fought wars over freedom. Even then, in the 21st century, we find ourselves in chains of all kinds-social, familial and professional.
2. “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”- Franz Kafka
I, and you, need to read more of Kafka. This motivational quote, which is not even intended to be a motivational quote, but a comment on the kind of books we should read, is mind blowing in itself. We need books that wound us.
1. Be yourself. There is nobody in the world quite like you. The greatest success and the source of happiness in human life, is our ability to live our lives as per the standards we set for life ourselves. That sounds like life worth living- Amarvani
That’s me. I thought I would say something myself to end this wonderful collection of quotes that I spent over a week finding and commenting on.
That is the end of the list. This list of motivational quotes, I am convinced, is one of the powerful lists on the internet. I didn’t just write this list for you. I wrote it for my own self too, so that when we find ourselves a little lost on the journey of life, we can go to these masters, and find our path.
Thank you for reading. If you found the post worthy, do share it about, and clap here. It motivates me :)