Personal Mantras

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[edit] Words to live by and where they came from

What little mantras help you in your day-to-day activities? Add yours!

  • Yesterday i did, Today i do, and tomorrow i will
  • Lets see what happens!
  • This, too , shall pass.
  • "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace." -- Amelia Earhart. Tammycravit
  • "Do Not dwell on things that don't deserve to be dwelled upon"
  • You got to keep moving, You got to keep pushing, Youre never gonna get back any more than your giving, life is for the living, youve got to be willing, a song aint a song until someone starts singing.- Jakob Dylan The Wallflowers
  • "Love / Honor / Glory" -- not sure if I heard this or saw this somewhere, but it's been one I know is *in* me for some years...my 35th bday gift to myself (today, 6/10/2005) is to live it. Bronxred
  • "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country." - Horace --Arippe 11:42, 9 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • S*** Happens
  • "Effort to Emphasis" -- from now-COL Tim Reese, former commander, 1/77 AR. Applied to what we were doing, and is a good guide for life and in taking direction from others.
  • "God gave man two ends - one to think with and one to sit on. A man's success depends on which end he uses most; a case of heads you win tails you lose."
    • anon; from a plaque I stole from my father about 10 years ago -- nickd
  • "Moderation in all things, including moderation."
    • Usually attributed to Mark Twain. Jake Mohan Actually, this can be attributed to Ben Franklin, and is found in his "Autobiography."
  • "The good news is you can do it. The bad news is, you have to do it."
  • "Expecting someone to be other than they have been is irrational behavior."
  • If you don't know what to do, do something.
    • I picked up this little nugget back in university, specifically studying engineering. When you're faced with a problem to solve but don't know where to start, just start scribbling. --AP 13:09, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
    • The US Army equivalent (in typical military grammar) is "Don't do nothing." --J.T. Boofle 14:42, 10 Apr 2005 (EDT)
    • "There's a strategy for every situation, so start making decisions" - wisdom passed on to Tony LaRussa, from his book '3 Nights in August'
  • "You love the things you pay attention to."
    • -- Dirk Knemeyer's poetry teacher
  • "Smaller, smaller." --Merlin 07:47, 7 Apr 2005 (EDT)
    • My personal variant on "smaller, smaller" is "Bang the rocks together". That's a quote from Douglas Adams, of course. But for me it means pulverising things into a finer granularity speeds up the ways they can interact, their recombinant usage. And that makes exciting things happen :-) -- PhilJones
    • "Smaller, Smaller" is one of the mantras of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, along with "Bigger, Bigger", and "Half, Half" -- representing the contraction of the universe to the One Point, the expansion of the One Point to the Universe, and the infinite motion of the one point oscillation by successive halves.
  • Simplify, simplify. --RB 08:17, 7 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Om... --gochess
    • Can't get any smaller or more simple than that. Its origin is pre-linguistic and intimately connected with our breathing. Especially effective with deep breathing for relaxation, concentration, and awareness. Try it on long exhalations.
  • "With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine"
    • I don't recall who came up with this, but it's one of my favorite optimistic/motivational quotes --Segfault 09:02, 7 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • "The historical process is (or should be) a process of distillation and not accumulation." --Paul Rand
  • "In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away." --Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    • Mantra version of same: Never add when there is still something to take away. --ThePolack
  • "Don't try to sound impressive." and "Use footnotes to contain digressions." --Paul Graham
    • words to live by IMHO ;)
  • "Don't get run over!" - George Carlin --RobertDaeley 15:30, 7 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • "I'll be immortal until the day I die." --ziggy 10 Jun 2005
  • No regrets. --JamesRifkin
  • Similar to "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", if I'm nervous about doing something for the first time or traveling to a place that's foreign to me, I always repeat to myself: "It's an adventure." -- Skadus, 04-08-2005 14:00 CST
  • "I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused." - Elvis Costello - particularly handy when dealing with the boss (or the kids) --J.T. Boofle 14:42, 10 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • "No more martyrs." - Not a strictly accurate use of the word "martyr", but I use it as a reminder to accentuate what I can or should do rather than adopting an attitude that I've been wronged or have been unduly burdened by my spouse, co-workers, children, etc. --Dharris 22:08, 1 May 2005 (EDT)
  • "Life's Too Short" (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?LifesTooShort) --Gideon 03:31, 2 May 2005 (EDT)
    • I've also heard this one as "Life is not a dress rehearsal." -- Tammycravit
  • "Onwards and Upwards" --hontoo 03:22, 5/6/5 (CST)
  • "Assimilate, don't complain" --urbansheep 08:54, 6 May 2005 (EDT)
  • Hope for the best; prepare for the worst -- My own brand of pessimistic optimism. Just something I made up, but I doubt it's original. I liken it to jumping out of a plane: it's great if you believe you can fly, but if you can't, you're gonna be sorry if you didn't pack a parachute.
  • "What am I avoiding?" --argonical 09:39, 06 May 2005 (EDT)
  • "Effort comes from the muscles, not from nerves" (from Frank Herbert's "Children of Dune") -- Crazy 18:00 07 May 2005 (UTC)
  • "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." -- Tinjaw 00:00 08 May 2005 (CDT)
  • "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." - Mother Teresa ... this one helps me to remember I can't do everything, but what I do I can do with passion. It keeps me from being overwhelmed. --steph 16 May 2005
  • "Can it wait 15 minutes?" -- When I'm really pressed for time, I ask this question to about everything. When the answer is yes, it's a safe bet it can wait until tomorrow, and I can get back to what's most important. Not a solid rule, but something that helps me prioritize. terceiro 25 May 2005
  • "Keep Breathing" --fenris23
  • "No blame." Alternatively, "No blame, no praise." From the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching. Good for reminding me that the past is the past, the present is the present, and i just have to do stuff NOW without worrying too much about the consequences of things i can't change. heliotrope
  • "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison. Connor
  • "Adapt, Migrate or Die!" The three options of an organism faced with a changing environment. Krackeman 06 June 2005
  • "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer." Shortened mantra form of Frank Herbert's Litany Against Fear. Desert.Lynx 06 June 2005
  • "Don't do the right things for the wrong reasons." That basically boils down to constantly evaluating the context of an action - what may be right in 99% of the time may be horribly wrong in a different context. Tom Lazar
  • "Only begin." - John Shaw Billings (started what became the National Library of Medicine) It helps me take that first step (or next action) in a long or difficult project. Bookworm 06 June 2005
  • "Live all you can. It's a mistake not to." - Henry James, via the hero Lambert Strether in "The Ambassadors" (1903). Kevin Cole
  • "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi tattooed on my back Justin August
  • "It all pays the same." (useful when the pointy-haired boss dumps another steaming pile of busy work in your inbox) jeffy
  • "It is just a bit of cake." - Anne Lamott. Because I take myself too seriously. --Eliza 17:20, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • Big picture: "Life is not a dress rehearsal" Day-to-day: "How hard can it be?" Neither have let me down, both provide guidance and comfort whenever 'intoned.'
  • Get Obsessed, Stay Obsessed LeslieHarpold
  • "You have no power over me." - Labyrinth. A little something for those days when I feel like I'm trying to satisfy everyone but myself. --Jeni 17:39, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • If you're not learning, you're not earning. --JimFl
  • Keep moving! --Anon.
  • "Less is more."
  • "Live life with passion - Love what you do, do what you love" -- Ian Cheung
  • "Let the excellence of your work be your protest" - A quote by Dr. William Lane, often repeated by Michael Card. --Fraserspeirs 05:21, 7 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • "Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought." - Henri Bergson --EDG
  • "Think of it as evolution in action." - From Larry Niven & Jerry Pournell's "Oath of Fealty" --Agius 09:03, 7 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • Keep Busy
  • Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. Yoda --Bsummers 09:33, 7 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • There are a million different ways to look at this moment.
  • The more fun you're having, the less money you're making," - self Elvis
  • Cheap, fast, right: pick any two," - Various Elvis
  • "Move to make a move." David Giese said the most useful thing I learned in college on the very first day - his point was that if you want to see how something will work, try it and see how it works. smartyboots
  • "Real artists ship." -- Steve Jobs
  • "Done is better than perfect." --Anne Mollegen Smith. katxena
  • "Doctor" -- this is from an old joke: "What do they call the lowest-ranked Ph.D. student in the class on graduation day? Doctor." Even though I got my Ph.D. some time ago, saying "Doctor" to myself still helps me focus on the essentials when I have too many things to pay attention to. katxena
  • No half measures.
  • "What would I do if I weren't afraid?"
  • my motto's always been "when it's right, it's right. Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night. When everything's a little clearer in the light of day. And you know the night is always gonna be there any way. Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight. Afternoon delight." Works for me.
  • I have two, depending on my mood and what I'm doing. The first one, from William Morris, is, "Have nothing in your house that you do not either know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." The second is from a French Renaissance poet named Bonaventure des Periers, and it goes, "Le plus gentil enseignement pour la vie, c'est bene vivere et laetari." Roughly translated, it means, "The noblest teaching for life is to live well and rejoice." I can't help it; I teach French and Latin. -- Glenda
  • "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better and better."
  • "Every man and every woman is a star." Reminds me to value myself and at the same time treat others as the stars they are.--Hermgirl
  • "Underpromise and overdeliver." I'm pretty sure I came up with this, but I'll happily give credit if it's due elsewhere. --caelyx
  • "Do it now". Simple and easy to remember. Kids ask to play? Do it now. New mail that needs to be answered. Do it now. etc. Brandnewbrain 05:06, 8 Jun 2005 (EDT)
  • "One step at a time" --dalepike
  • "There's always a better way, find it." -- Attrib. Tom Edison -- I use it in everything. Design, programming, chess, writing... it's a reminder that there is always progress to be made.
  • "It is what it is." -- Helps me accept the present and deal with it, versus whining/wishing things were different. gvtexas
  • "What´s the next action?". --Getting Things Done, David Allen. Not sure how come I´m the first one here to mention this one :) It´s a reminder to keep me focused on real, objective actions to achieve my goals. It reminds me to break down my higher level/long-term goals into real actions. Luciano Passuello
  • I got mine from you. It's the one about how two cooks can take the same chicken and a handful of spices and come up with two completely different dinners. It reminds me that I am unique and special, even if I am a horrible cook. -marm0t
  • "Apathy, what you dont care about cant hurt you"
  • "If you don't ask, they can't say no." -Red
    • Another version of this I've heard often is "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission."
  • "Every moment is, was or will be 'right now.'"

It's comforting to me when I worry about things in the future; I can't explain quite what I find so reassuring about it; just that I'll deal with it when it happens.

  • "Get in, make your Z, and get out." Zorro, from the short-run sitcom, Zorro and Son. http://www.geocities.com/thezorrolegend/zorroandson/zorro-and-son.html Zorro’s son is going in to the crime-fighting biz, and is practicing his Zs on a stack of hay bales covered with a sheet, in the cave. He’s painfully slow, and his dad (Zorro, played by Henry Darrow) gives him a brief lecture on how little time he’ll have to make his Z in a fight with criminals. He makes a quick and perfect Z in the sheet, hands junior the sword, and utters the words that are my mantra... randygerdes
  • "Self destruction is not self discovery"
  • "Decide what you would become, then do what you have to do." - Epictetus, Roman Stoic;
    • "Improvise, Adapt, & Overcome." - my dad & every other marine. --GateTree
  • "I hate everybody"
    • I don't know how serious that one was, but it was W. C. Fields (apparently) who said: "I have no prejudices. I hate everyone equally."
  • "You are what you do when it counts" -said by the Masao in John Steakley's book, Armor Mudge
  • "Eyes on the Prize." (Keep focused on your goal. Don't get distracted.)-- PeaceLove
  • "I got no time for the drama 'cause stress is for kids

'Cause when you're dead and buried well you got no biz" - Beastie Boys

  • "Who dares, wins." -Motto of the S.A.S (which I try to live too)

- Saline

  • "If you can't make them think, make them wonder." - Jim Mauro
    • A related one to this is: "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullsh*t."
  • Less talk. More do.
  • "Everything is small time." - GregWBrooks (and the only original thought I've ever had!)
  • "No one is coming to the rescue." - it is all up to me, so I had better get busy!
  • "There's no rest for the wicked" or sometimes I'll take it easy on myself and say "There's no rest for the weary". "I hate everybody" works for me too. With apologies to Yoda and the Yodaneers, anger is my friend these days.
  • "Believe you can, believe you can't -- either way, you're right." Henry Ford
  • "i need 44 folders."
  • "I'll ride the wave, where it takes me" - Eddie Vedder (Release, Ten) - Punkey
  • "Evolve or Die" - Title of Lily Tomlin show, saw it on a shirt she was wearing.
  • Longer than most of these, but worthwhile: Go out into the world in peace. Have courage. Hold on to what is good. Return to no person evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted. Support the weak. Help the suffering. Honor all beings. Macguffin
  • "Style is a crutch." - John Kricfalusi, on learning to draw. Learn the core skills rather than imitating the details of how somebody else does it. Your own method will come in time, from your interests and influences and strengths. Egypt Urnash
  • "Life is short and time fleeting, so be quick to love and make haste to be kind." - from a blessing at my second-mom's funeral. It falls into the "random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" category, and really keeps me thinking about the people I want to be close to in this life --Becky Anderson 23:27, 9 Jun 2005 (PDT)
  • Patience is a virtue. If only I were virtuous Vix
  • "if in doubt, hire the one with the best rack."
  • from Douglas Coupland: (He's full of these.) -- David
    • "Less is a possibility." - (Generation X)
    • "I am not a target market." - (ibid.)
    • "Reduce, distill, purify, teach." - (ibid.)
    • "Adventure without risk is disneyland." - (ibid.)
    • "Remember Earth clearly." - (ibid.)
    • "Define normal." - (ibid.)
    • "Control is not control." - (ibid.)
    • "Pull the wires from the wall." - (Microserfs)
    • "The future is more extreme than you think." - (Girlfriend in a Coma)
  • I don't need to know, if I know where to go. --Bren
  • Fight the power, fight the power, and don't, don't, don't believe the hype. - Leon F. Litwack, channeling Chuck D. Thd
  • "you can take it with you." - recently spotted on t-shirt worn by satan
  • before, in difficult times: "everything is optional" now that i'm out of the weeds: "be heroic". --tomax
  • "Two questions: is it beautiful? Do I use it? If the answer to either of these questions is 'no,' let it go." --from apartment therapy.com, in an article about eliminating clutter
  • "Never squander what to others are riches" - Buddhist Proverb? --Jonathan Davis
  • "Tough and competent". After the launchpad fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew during a training run, Gene Kranz (maybe most well-known for Ed Harris' portrayal in Apollo 13 and the just-as-great line "Failure is not an option!") made every mission control engineer write those two words on his blackboard. He gave a little speech, and maybe the best part of that speech: "From now on the people of Mission Control will be known by many words, but the two words that will be dominant in our language is [sic] "tough" and "competent." "Tough" meaning we will never again shirk from our responsibilities. We are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. "Competent"--we'll never again take anything for granted. We'll never stop learning. From now on, this team will be perfect." -- KyleMaxwell
  • "Safety first" and "Tiny victories"
  • "To Thine Own Self Be True." - A snipet from William Shakespeare's Hamlet Act I, scene iii where Polonius is preparing his sone for travel abroad. The longer quote is, "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou cans't not be false to any man " (ll.78-80).
  • "Die Running" - It's better to die doing and striving than sitting on your couch in front of the boob tube. A friend of mine's father had this as his motto and died working in a corn field. Learning about this man's life has really inspired me to do better.
  • "Wherever you go, there you are." - I've heard so many different possible sources for this that I won't even begin to list them here but it's not mind. You can't run away from yourself, if you change your surroundings, you are still the same person, looking out of the same set of eyeballs with the same thoughts in your head. Change starts from within, not without.
  • “What-e’er thou art act well thy part.” - This is apparently chiseled in the stone of a church in Scotland and has been attributed to Shakespeare and Irish folk wisdom. To me it means that pretending to be something I'm not or don't want to be is a waste, be true to what you really want to be.
  • "You're never further from the truth than when you think you already know what's going on." -- My own personal antidote to intellectual arrogance. I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but I've always connected it with Heinlein, somewhere. Closely associated with my other favorite, "You can tell you're learning because it hurts so damned much."
  • "It's just a point in time" - Serves as a dual reminder - 1) to live in the moment because you don't know how long it will last, and 2)No matter how bad a situation seems, you CAN get thru it because it really is just a point in time. --DRB
  • Youth is wasted on the young.
  • Life is wasted on the living.
  • "Ser es hacer." Means to be is to do. "Seize the gray." Both in terms of the gray of a page (I'm a designer) and as in gray matter. - Elias
  • "KISS: Keep It Simple Shitweasel." My personal twist on the oft cited acronym. Reminds me that cleverness is often ego trying to hide ignorance, but still wanting some applause.--Jeremy Markum .com
  • "Be a traveller, not a tourist." - Thomas Goorden
  • Constructive Living tenets: Accept your feelings, know your purpose, do what needs to be done. (Esp useful when you're bored, angry, scared, mopey, etc.) - Mike
  • Solve the problem with what's in the room. - Mike
  • For eating (say it to yourself when you feel tempted): Nothing is better than anything, less is better than more, slower (eating) is better than faster. For exercising (when you're tempted to skip it): Anything is better than nothing, more is better than less, faster is better than slower. - Mike
  • Fail early. (I use this to just get me going on a project when I'm stalled. Failing early means getting obvious problems fixed early, which means more time available to get it more perfect.) - Mike
  • Live Long, Laugh Often, Love Much.
  • "I'd eat more ice cream" 93 year old lady when asked what she would do differently if given the chance. Reminds me to have fun while trying to live virtuously. --WalterEgo
  • When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth - Sherlock Holmes.
  • Go Big, or Go Home. first heard from my brother. Shawnmor 19:26, 6 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • "Can I make this be any simpler?" Shawnmor 19:26, 6 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • "mu" - Zen Buddhism
  • Why spend 30 minutes doing something when I could spend 5 years automating it?
  • "God don't make junk". Everybody, me included, is worthwhile.
  • I am unique, just like everybody else. We all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses, that is what makes us unique. - Ben Hamilton
  • "What one man can do, another man can do." - From the 1997 movie The Edge. Robert
  • "The world expands and contracts in direct proportion to ones courage." - Anais Nin
    • I like to shorten this to just "Courage!" --Ookpik
  • "Destiny, Choose!" Zen Coen--is there anything more inspiring?
  • You cannot control what happens to you, only how you act. --HarleyPig
    • Likewise, "People may not remember what happens, but they will remember how you react to it." I've found that one to be true. --steph
  • C'est la vie, c'est le guerre, c'est la amour.
    • My mangling of my 1st year french. I came up with that during a rough ending of a relationship at the same time as a rough job. Basically, "Such is life, such is war, such is love." --HarleyPig
  • "Let go."
    • A reminder to me of the story of a man standing on a high cliff when he slips, falls and catches onto a root halfway down the cliff. The Lord says to him, "Do you believe that I could save your life?" and the man replies "Yes, Lord." The Lord then asks "Do you believe that I would save your life?" and the man replies "Yes, Lord." To which the Lord says "Let go." This is the opposite of my first mantra (about controling what happens to you) in that there are some things I should not try to do. --HarleyPig
  • "If there is any doubt, then there is no doubt."
    • Sam, played by Robert deNiro, in "Ronin". --Pete
  • "Don't do nothin' dumb."
    • According to a co-worker, this sign hangs on the wall of the room at the Oshkosh airport where they do pre-flight briefings for pilots doing fly-bys in the airshow. I wish I remembered it at more poignant times. --Jamie
  • "Courage is not always loud. Sometimes it is a quiet voice saying 'I will try again tomorrow'." --carikate
    • from a success poster at work - author unknown. For me it is a reminder that, no matter how bad my day is, as long as I can say 'I will try again tomorrow', there's hope. --carikate

"Ask the next question." Theodore Sturgeon

  • IG Rule #1: Don't be stupid! - sign over the door to the USAF IG's office (1983)
  • Don't tapdance! - sign on a shoe, impaled by a spike, on the desk of the USAF IG (1983)
  • "Unless you enter the tiger's den you cannot take the cubs."
  • "God helps those who help themselves."
  • "I was sick, but I'm better now, and there's work to be done." (Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake) I like to say this to myself whenever I have been wasting my time on something useless. --Coldphage
  • That which is measured improves.
  • Only floss the ones you want to keep.
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