Not So Inspirational Quotes

Words hugging a person

Last time I was ranting about urban legends, today it’s inspirational quotes. I promise to be less ranty next time. Anyway, it’s pretty difficult to engage in any kind of social media without being regularly inundated with trite inspirational quotes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quotes that I too find inspirational, or at the very least they make me stop and think. And yes, I accept that we each find inspiration in different places, but it’s the formulaic type quotes I object to, and also, I’m pretty sure a lot of them weren’t really said by the people they are attributed to. A bit like the urban legends, I feel that sometimes people make them up for a laugh just to see if they can get people to share them around. There are key words that crop up repeatedly in these quotes:

Light, candle, gift, heart, love, friends/friendship, yesterday, today, tomorrow, happiness, journey, life.

It seems if you can string a sentence together that includes at least a couple of these words, people will like it, forward it, share it, retweet it, whether or not it actually means anything. I’m going to have a go at creating some of my own. And if you think you’re going to have some laughs here with comedy versions, you’re wrong, I’m attempting to create genuine sounding ones to see how easy it is…

– A true friend is one who will protect your flickering candle flame from the storm, while everyone else is trying to blow it out.

– Happiness means opening your heart to what is waiting for you tomorrow, and closing your mind to what broke you yesterday.

– When you fall, it is not always the first hand which reaches out to help you that belongs to the truest friend. It is the hand that never tires of reaching out, however many times you fall. That is the true hand of friendship.

– Love is a journey, it is a gift, and it is the brightest light that can shine on your heart.

– Tomorrow is two days after yesterday. Today is two days before the day after tomorrow. What matters is not what day it is, but which friendships light the path on your journey through life.

– The line between success and failure is determined only by living today for today, and finding your own truth in the brightest star.

How am I doing? Do they sound real? Are you feeling inspired? Would you like a bucket? Now I just need some pictures of sunsets and suchlike to pop these onto, and some famous wise people to attribute them to and I’m done!

Do feel free to have a go at creating your own inspirational quotes below. If you like a challenge, then how about writing one that uses ALL of my key words…
photo credit: Robbert van der Steeg via photopin cc


88 responses to “Not So Inspirational Quotes

  1. Can you post on facebook so I can like and share!


  2. Tomorrow I will light a candle to yesterday’s love and friendship; but today I will find happiness on my journey to the convenience store to find some matches to light that darn candle that was a gift from an unimaginative friend while my heart bleeds all over life’s sleeve.
    You did not say it had to make sense.


  3. I was thinking this very same thing just yesterday. But to go one stage further, if you post a well-rounded article containing researched data, you’re wasting your time, almost no one will, read it, like it, comment on it. FB’ers, it appears, can only read one sentence.


  4. Brutal! VC tellin’ it how it IS, people! Life is hard and sometimes you just gotta lay the smackdown on soppy 😀

    I laughed out loud reading your post. You’re so right and your formulaic prototypes could be mistaken for the real thing – demonstrating with great aptitude that such quotes in the wild are very likely attributed more worth than they are due.


  5. Life is like a journey to that candle shop to buy gifts for friends today. Happiness is short lived – the neon light is out when you get there, your heart sinks as you realize you should have gone yesterday when the shop was open. Tomorrow won’t do, you’ll be at work all day. This is why you love on-line shopping.


  6. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, my love is a gift to you, a candle to light our journey through life, our friendship of happiness. How did I do? 🙂


  7. Yesterday we lit the candle of friendship and watched it burn. A thousand times a thousand tomorrows will pass on the journey for life’s happiness before we see its like again.

    Ouch. 🙂


  8. This is way too funny. You did a great job flexing your insane descriptive words in a way that so many gushing readers like to pass on as wonderful expressions of life’s lessons of wisdom and love (even this sentence is ludicrous).

    Here’s my take on some of your expressions:

    A true friend is one who will protect your flickering candle flame from the storm, while everyone else is trying to blow it out.
    No, a true friend is one who just likes to flicker your flame while you hope he won’t blow it – or maybe you hope he will.

    Happiness means opening your heart to what is waiting for you tomorrow, and closing your mind to what broke you yesterday.
    Untrue. Happiness means not dying before tomorrow comes, and hoping that whatever happened to you yesterday doesn’t kill you

    The true hand of friendship is the hand that never tires of reaching out, however many times you fall.
    Absolutely false. The true hand of friendship is the one that smacks you around until you come back to your senses.

    I could go on but I think you get the point. I think this was a lot of fun for you to write it was a lot of fun for me to read, and then a lot of fun for me to rewrite.

    Thanks, Randy


  9. Another fine example of things that make me want to gag daily! I personally love your first one about people who are trying to blow out your candle.
    Lessee, let me try my hand. “Happiness of the heart in life is a journey, granted to those who accept the dual gifts of love and friendship, who seize the lighted candle offered in love from yesterday, through today, and on in to tomorrow.” Yes, I know I used “love” twice. [Author’s note: this must be accompanied by a picture of a cat–or two cats.]


  10. Being a creator of candles I appreciate sappy references to flickering candles because guess what? More sales for me!! Your “inspirational quotes” and the others left by commenters are a fabulous parody. Now I have to go light a candle and take the journey into today and love it because my friends put happiness in my heart. What?! You guys are way better at creating quotes than I am. 🙂


  11. “Happiness is a heart candle from Vanessa today and tomorrow.”—Carrie Rubin, circa 2013


  12. Vanessa,
    I got a card once of Pooh and Piglet walking off into the sunset and the caption said:

    “Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
    “Pooh!’ he whispered.
    ‘Yes, Piglet?’
    “Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
    ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.'” – E H. Shepard

    And after reading your post I’m wondering how sincere that person was when they sent it to me. I kept it for many years, because I considered it a true expression of how they felt about our relationship.

    Brings in a lot of questions about people who send such messages.
    Can a person who send such quotes be sincere?
    Are they in touch with the real world?
    What’s their emotional maturity level?

    I use to think people who sent such messages were people who had a difficult time expressing themselves in other ways.

    You’ve given me a whole new slant on things.



    • Jory, I think you’re probably right that people who post or send these things often have trouble expressing their feelings in their own words. But I also think it gives them comfort in some way, and that these are kind of messages to themselves. Like: Note to Self, don’t forget to appreciate what you have.


      • Thanks fakename2 (I like your handle 😉

        I’m such a heavy optimist that I always take people at face value and I wear my heart on my sleeve. At 66 I wonder if maybe I’m to soft for my own good?


        This whole rant has got me recalling other inspirational quotes from the 70s, and there’s two that I really liked because they say a lot:

        ‘Troublesome people are often people in trouble.’


        ‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.’

        Sappy quotes then have a place for those who are ‘word-challenged’.


        • “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle,” is a feminist quote— not meant to be sentimental, but to promote division as means of ‘female empowerment.’


          • Yes, it was meant as an inspirational quote, one that I’m sentimental about.

            I do not see it as strictly being a feminist quote. It’s a quote that, to me, says we do not “need” to have anyone in our lives because we “need” them. We all should be capable of caring for ourselves. Strength comes from within.

            We should be with another because of mutual benefits, not “Oh, my life wasn’t fulfilled until you lit the candle, blah, blah, oh, please marry me, blah, blah ….”

            So to balance the empowerment I’ll add “A man without a woman is like a whale without a tractor”. 😉


  13. LOL! You say you’re trying to be serious, but it came out revoltingly hilarious! Give me that bucket! No, seriously, you should consider writing verses for greeting cards! You’d get rich! Frankly, I avoid “inspirational,” feel-good blogs and tweeters – I’m too much of a pessimist by nature.


  14. If !your day job should fall through, try the greeting card industry. Clearly, you’ve figured out their formula! 😉 Pardon me, now, I feel as if I need a shower…


  15. Brilliant!

    Your first and third quotes are really good. I think they’ll be trending in no time 🙂


  16. I don’t think I could write one of those without gagging. Reading yours had the same effect, so well done! And that photo on top is so brilliant!


  17. Vanessa, you are brilliant! I know what you mean…I don’t even read quotes anymore. I can’t help but laugh, but they really sound like the “real” thing! I feel inspired. I don’t think I could make up them up like you. You have talent!!


  18. Have you seen my inspirational blog posts? They are truly inspirational! I have inspirational fruits and vegetables and also a couple of posts with inspirational barnyard noises. Of course I’m a stick in the mud, but the inspirational stuff generally gets up my nose. Here I am struggling to write or compose new stories and songs and everybody’s re-blogging or U tubing – or quoting something clever that’s supposed to be inspirational.


  19. So great! You make me laugh, and your made up ones sounded very good. I am inspired (to go get some chocolate).


  20. Attribute them to you! You are the wise person! And they are fabulous! All you need is seagulls and sunsets and stuff.


  21. Wow! What a piece. I think we have all been on a real voyage together; your words shine like a beacon over the choppy seas of life which is, of course, a bowl of turnips.


  22. Great job, Vanessa. I was almost sure I’d seen the quotes you wrote until I realized you’d made them up. Goes to show you how formulaic and shallow some quotes are. I tend to see a lot of these on sympathy cards or ones having to do with faith/religion in some way.


  23. Okay, here’s mine:

    Our friendship is a gift of love, strength and endurance that comes from the heart… reaped from many yesterdays.

    And like a candle that gives us light today…it’s warmth will still be felt tomorrow.

    My life is filled with happiness…in this journey we’ve taken together!

    Now, pass the bucket please!


  24. Here’s one to add to the collection:

    You said our love was a candle burning in the dark.
    I kept the flame alive with my love for you.
    You added your flame to another candle.
    In that flame I saw all the burnt candles behind me.
    It was then I knew why you preferred our candle in the dark.
    No more candles for me, now I stick to electricity.


  25. I don’t guess I’ll ever see one of these again without thinking of you, Vanessa 🙂 So here’s one for you from today: “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, You’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” (Use of “slow” instead of “slowly” and Inappropriate capitalization of “You’re” are not mine.) Also imagine photo of a lonely road, two trees in the distance, all covered by dense fog.


    • Ya see, until I read your bit about the grammar mistakes, I thought it was just one you had made up here and – that proves my point entirely!


      • It certainly does prove your point 🙂 I can be a bit of a grammar Nazi, but I’m in a 12-Step program for it. (Okay, I am kidding.) I try to keep it under control, but since whoever came up with this one is an anonymous entity on Facebook…


  26. The light from yesterday’s candle is a gift of love, tempered somewhat by today’s journey to the fire insurance adjuster.


  27. Pingback: Post of the Week – Vanessa-Jane Chapman | The Bumble Files

  28. runningonsober

    Haha, this was awesome! I’m glad Amy shared it. I love quotes, but gotta admit that these even made *me* gag. Thanks for the laughs! ~Christy


  29. Yesterday, on this journey of my life, all my troubles seemed so far away, but today, and tomorrow, tomorrow, I will turn on my heart light, my gift to you my friend, the candle in the wind beneath my wings.

    Look, you can write inspirational songs with your inspirational quotes!


  30. A combo from your first three: A friend protects your happiness after you fall.


  31. Today I thought of your speculation that bored people just make up these quotes to see how far they will go. Twice today (already!) I’ve seen a photo allegedly depicting a 28 foot (dead) alligator. Since I live in alligator land, I know for sure that such a thing does not exist, and the photo is so obviously photoshopped it’s ridiculous. Sheesh!


    • What is it about the online world that turns people into much more gullible beings than they are in the real world I wonder? Or maybe it just seems that there are more gullible people online!


      • Beats me. I leave you with today’s words of wisdom. “The biggest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second biggest is to be happy with what you find.” Could someone pass me that bucket?


  32. Just yesterday my friend was saying that you don’t often see cards with nice, meaningful messages anymore. Is it a shame or should we be left to come up with our own words? 😉

    I wanted the bucket option, lol. Cool post. 🙂


  33. One part of the reason these inspirational quotes are so ubiquitous is social media, which makes sharing short and sweet stuff so simple. The “Just press Like” mentality. You used to have to pick up a book of these things, or shop around in gift card stores, to be surrounded by these things. Now, they’re all over the Internet, in memes, on blogrolls, et al, ad nauseum. I’d be interested to see how many people start sharing and forwarding your Facebook post with these. 🙂

    Another part of the reason, I think, is more subtle. People as social creatures need to feel comforted, about their work, family, school, choices, life. They want their hopes and aspirations summed up by a saying. It takes so much less effort for them to look at someone else’s words and say, “That’s about me!” than to create a motto of their own.

    We’re surrounded by stress and anxiety. We’re expected to succeed, and exceed expectations. We make bad decisions. There are things out of our control. Tumbling all together, these aspects create a vortex, an emotional hyper-suck, that can really mire or even cripple a person. And, so many people live solitary lives, connected only to their stress, they have to find that comfort somewhere. It’s a shame it has to be in pithy sayings thrown together in a few minutes by an ad agency.


    • Well said!
      But what you said is only the explanation, what you said does nothing to change the problem. It merely points it out – “There IS an elephant in the room”.

      Yes we’re surrounded by stress, expected to succeed, exceed expectations, make bad decision, etc. WE allow them to do so. WE create the vortex, WE allow ourselves to be crippled. WE chose to live solitary lives, etc.

      WE do not take control of our lives. WE expect others to do it for us.
      The government, the schools, doctors, police, a wife, a husband/lover all in hopes that WE will be left alone.

      The 1970s were my life awakening I was influenced by several great people:

      Frtiz Perls, father of Gestalt Therapy –“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, you are not in this world to live up to mine, if perchance we meet it’s great.”

      Carl Rogers, Rogerian Therapy – “Love is the total, positive unconditional regard for another.” Not sappy swooning “Oh, I need you in my life, please marry me.” The crap H’Wood has everyone believing that true love is just another RomCom, another “Pretty Woman” story.

      Carl believed that love began with yourself before you could actually love another.

      Ghandi and how he peacefully brought the British to their knees without firing a shot.

      “Network” a fantastic film. If you haven’t seen it here’s a clip from YouTube Notice that nothing has changed in over 30 years.

      In 2001 I got mad as hell and I wasn’t taking it anymore. I was married to a wonderful woman, we had a two year old daughter, and she was 6 months pregnant with our second child.

      I began heavily looking at where to raise our children safely. I scoured the USA and began looking where to go. Then in an Internet search I began to see a pattern of unsafe living in the USA for my children (23 school shootings between March1997-March 2001 and another 58 between March 2001 to April 2013).

      That un-safeness had to do with the attitude of most Americans. Gimme, gimme, gimme, combined with general complacency, guns and a blind patriotism.

      All of which lead me to leave for the UK. My best friend at the time summed it all up for me when he bought a gun. I asked why, and his answer was to protect himself from others who buy guns.

      However the UK is just a puppet of the USA, and just as unsafe as the USA, I left it as well and now live in Costa Rica. No it’s not perfect here, but how often have you heard of school shootings here?

      For that matter how often is Costa Rica in the news. I’m not going to extoll the virtues of CR. In fact I really don’t want most of you to come here – you’ll just bring what I’m getting away from. (Yes if CR turns out to be another US/UK I’ll leave it too). I’ve done my homework and I am very sure CR is the last place for me.

      My point to this rant is most of you continue to rant and rave about the injustices, trials and tribulations of your lives but you do not GET MAD AS HELL and do anything about it.

      And please do not use the excuse to up and leave, or change, “Well that’s easy for you to say, I’ve got a job/wife/husband/family and I can’t just up and leave.” What you really mean is, “I’m scared to leave what’s familiar to me.”

      There’s a poem I’d also like to share with you by Bertolt Brecht, written in the 1930s.

      “What if they gave a war and nobody came?
      Why, then, the war would come to you!
      He who stays home when the fight begins
      And lets another fight for his cause
      Should take care:
      He who does not take part
      In the battle will share in the defeat.
      Even avoiding battle will not avoid battle.
      Since not to fight for your own cause
      Really means
      Fighting on behalf of your enemy’s cause.”

      I do not advocate violence. Politicians listen to their “loudest” voters and the best way to vote when you get mad as hell and can’t take it anymore is to vote with you feet – leave!

      Don’t want to leave then make another motion – get up off your ass and get mad as hell and not take it anymore.

      Look at what’s familiar to you, stress, anxiety, expectations to succeed, to exceed expectations, bad decisions, things out of your control. “A vortex, an emotional hyper-suck, that can really mire or even cripple a person. So many people live solitary lives, connected only to their stress.” As Thoreau said in 1884 in Walden – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

      WE are responsible for our lives; change what you don’t like or shut up.

      I’ve known Vanessa for 15 years and I’ve watched, rather I am watching her mature into a very good person, and I’m very proud of her.

      Keep it up Ness; you’ll eventually have that one foot in the grave, too. ☺

      End of rant, you may now resume control of your Internet


  34. The second to last one was my favorite!


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