Why I hate inspirational quotes

My brother is the King of Cynicism.

He is one in a long line of cynics, including our father before us, who loved nothing better than to sit in the corner of a pub, peering over a broadsheet and watching the world silently with an acerbic eye; and before that our grandfather, who amused us as children by drawing humorous sketches of 1930s street scenes emphasising, to our delight, the large amount of horse manure that such streets allegedly contained, and the necessity of a man with a shovel nearby.

I like to think that I too am possessed of the cynical gene.  Sometimes it can be a blessing, when raising a laugh by thinking of a particularly cutting way to describe someone, but it can also be a curse.  Perhaps I am not always the angelic non-judgemental nice person I would like to be.

One thing I am not is earnest.

I can’t cope with it.  The inspirational quotes, the self-help lite, the endless platitudes about how you can be what you want to be if only you want to be it and think about being it and then make yourself be it.

Some time ago, I realised I had very nearly ruined my credibility in the eyes of my cynical brother when a series of inspirational quotes appeared on my Twitter feed, attributed to me.  I was mortified.  In my defence, I informed him of the following.

It wasn’t me.  It isn’t me.  It’s an app.  It does it automatically and I don’t know how to stop it, and every now and then I get a reply to one of these inspirational quotes, an approving reply.  Because apparently people actually like this stuff.  And I have an admission to make…

I hate them.

I hate quotes.  They don’t remind me to do great things, they remind me that the work of Martin Luther King shouldn’t be condensed into minisicule Twitter-friendly soundbites, and half of them aren’t even credited to anyone, so they could have just been MADE UP.

Let’s look at some random examples, which I obtained, as all profound and life-changing advice is, by performing a simple Google search and then having a nosey over what was on the front page.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; then suddenly you are doing the impossible.” (St Francis of Assisi).


Yep, that one.  The one you see in all the pictures, dressed in the monk outfit, with the birds, looking like a character from a Disney film circa 1942.  The man lived in the thirteenth century, for Christ’s sake.  He didn’t spend his life spewing out pop-psychology anecdotes about the golden path to riches and success.  HE DIDN’T BLOODY CARE ABOUT THAT.  He was a thirteenth century monk.  They HATED success.  They would have rather spent forty years whipping themselves with a cat ‘o nine tails whilst crawling to Jerusalem and back on their knees and then eking out the rest of their days in a cave living solely on the eucharist.  If Twitter had been around then, he would have been denouncing it as the work of Beelzebub.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” (Joseph Campbell)

Firstly, I don’t know who this person is-an author, according to Google, and one who seems to have had a great deal of his work condensed into pithy slogans and photoshopped onto pictures of lions and the obligatory calm-sea-at-sunset shots.  Secondly, couldn’t this apply to quite a lot of people that we wouldn’t necessarily want to emulate, like, um, terrorists?

“Good, better, best.  Never let it rest.  ‘Til your good is better, and your better is best.” (St Jerome)

Isn’t that the guy who used to stand in the desert and beat his chest with a rock?  I’m not taking life advice from that guy.  Also, I’m pretty sure that St Jerome, 347-420 AD and writing in Latin, never used the word “’til.”

“Aim for the moon.  If you miss, you may hit a star.” (W. Clement Stone)

Not unless you have a very poor aim.

I know, I know, some people love them, some people swear by them, some spend their lives taping them to the walls of offices, classrooms and bathroom mirrors, and if that’s what floats your boat, what helps you get through the day, then go right ahead.  My Twitter feed will be right there with you, just don’t expect me to take any of it seriously.  After all, as a great sage once said,

inspirational quotes

Which proves you can make pretty much anything sound inspirational if you cut it down enough, take it out of context and stick it on a sunset picture (although to be fair, I’m not sure that “wanna see Bradley swing, wanna see Rachel do her thing,” would have had quite the same effect).

#Inspire #Blessed #ChaseyourDreams #Hopeyoudon’tallhatemenow


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54 Comments Add yours

  1. Mai says:

    Haha, I like your sense of humor. I thought that part about blaming the Twitter quotes on an app was hilarious!

    1. Min says:

      No, it really is an app that sends tweets on your behalf, honestly!

  2. Ellen says:

    Min, can’t you just delete the app?!! Haha this made me laugh, you must hate our Facebook thing ? X

    1. Min says:

      I could-but it has other uses which I do like, so I put up with it!

  3. Hannah says:

    Haha hilarious! I’m not keen on most of them but one or two on a crud day can sometimes lift me a little.

    1. Min says:

      I’ll admit I don’t mind the odd one or two-it’s just the apparent proliferation of them all over the place that gets me!

  4. Alice Megan says:

    Oh i do like them but this made me properly belly laugh!
    We often play a game of guess the writer either a really profound author or someone ridiculous like Beiber!

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I haven’t seen any Justin Bieber ones. That I would definitely not be able to take seriously!

  5. ShoeboxofM says:

    You need Despair.com


    it’s exactly what they are after. Your S Club 7 quote reminds me of the Minion memes using quotes from Hellraiser.

    You probably won’t like my next post. It has quotes but these ones don’t suck.


    1. Min says:

      OMG I clicked on that website and I LOVE it! It literally sums up how I feel about motivational quotes, and, perhaps worryingly, some of them I think are very true. Is that bad? Looking forward to checking out your next post and the quotes!

  6. I love your writing hun – very funny and honest. I must admit I am the opposite of you, I love quotes, but I appreciate the honesty of this and respect your point of view 🙂 xx #justanotherlinky

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with me-it would be boring if we were all the same!

  7. “Not unless you have a very poor aim” – fantastic! You have such a witty sense of humour and your posts always make me laugh. Feeling inspired by your s club quote. Thanks for that! 😉 x

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. I’m glad I inspired someone-or should I say, S Club did. When that rainbow’s shining over you, that’s when your dreams will all come true.

  8. Min, this is hilarious! I’m a sucker for a good inspirational quote and use them quite often! X

    1. Min says:

      Haha, thanks! Some of them aren’t too bad, to be honest, but I do think they get massively overused.

  9. Emma says:

    Bahahaaha – blaming it on the app 😉

    Brilliant illustration of your point by the inclusion of S-Club 7 and their so very wise words :- )

    1. Min says:

      Got to love a bit of S Club. Seven of the most underrated philosophical thinkers of the late 90s and early noughties, I’d say.

  10. Baby Anon says:

    Ha ha, I like your thinking. There are quotes for every occasion online. I dislike how people use them to hint at a sentiment without coming out and saying what they’re thinking explicitly x #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, they seem to be everywhere these days. I’m sure a few years ago you would only find them in self-help books (not that I read any, ahem), but now they are all over the place!

  11. I’m with you on this. I also hate those “share this if you love your children, more than life itself”. It stresses me out. I don’t need to share some sickly picture to prove I love my kids, who exactly am I proving it to. But by not sharing it am I saying I don’t love my kids? Urrrgghhhh! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

    1. Min says:

      Oh no those are the absolute worst. Hate a passive aggressive subtext. The worst kind of Facebook status update! Thanks for hosting and commenting.

  12. very entertaining read – I love your sarcasm – did make me spit my coffee out at one point – aiming for the moon! However, Im guilty of not disliking quotes but I appreciate they aren’t for everyone so will leave you with ‘Hustle like a Boss’ – gets me all motivated – whatever it actually means and haven’t got a clue who wrote it – probably not a Boss! #KCACOL

    1. Min says:

      Haha, isn’t hustling doing some kind of dodgy deal? Is it something to do with Hustler magazine? Is that a thing? Or is it more like sheep rustling, whatever that is? I have no clue, but it sounds very motivating! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Kat says:

    A little S Club ALWAYS helps. I get the quotes, I do like them…sometimes. My favourite meme of them is “Today’s Inspirational Quote…Don’t Be A Dick” apologies…but I like that it just strikes true with me haha! 😀 I do like reading a little confidence boosting, inner goddess type books though, sometimes, they do help give me a bit of inner validation and all that stuff. #kcacols

    1. Min says:

      I have a love-hate relationship with self-help books. I hate them, but I do find myself secretly reading them on occasion, just in case they contain the secrets to all life, love and happiness that have hitherto lain undiscovered. There’s always that chance!

  14. sarah says:

    Haha, you can go into settings and apps and turn that b1tch off. I hate them as well, I would only ever make up my own (with my own picture and a quote I actually like, example “Anything you wish and dream to, begin it” which is very apt. It’s attributed to Goethe, but it’s actually by some random moutaineer) #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Good advice-but speaking as a true cynic, I think it actually brings me more followers as people seem to like them, so I may continue with the totally insincere automated quotes!

  15. Jason says:

    Haha! I am not a fan of motivational quotes either. My brother is a gym junkie/fitness freak, and his instagram was so full of this sort of rubbish, I had to hide him from my feed. Love the S Club quote, I might have to apply that one in my life. Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, the motivational quotes do seem to appeal to the gym going types! S Club rock. I think I might try living my life purely according to their guidelines actually.

  16. Love this post! really don’t like all these self-help books going around though! I have a bug bear with quotes, might be beacuse I work for a well known supermarket so the quote ‘every little helps’ does get on my nerves when everyone quotes it to me just to wind me up!!! They always bring it one way or another into conversation! xx


    1. Min says:

      Haha, oh no! I bet everyone thinks they’re being hilariously witty and original with that quip, not realising that you must hear it constantly. Could be worse though…..”these aren’t just (xyz) these are M&S (xyz).”

  17. Bread says:

    I do find a lot of inspirational posts to be bullshit. I prefer things that are a little more based in reality. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, me too! Thanks for commenting.

  18. Pen says:

    Min, how can you say this? I love my life by inspirational quotes! I like your blog but I think you are missing out on the real MEANING of life. Only joking. Inspirational quotes are a pile of poo. I am relieved that you have disabled the app that spams your tweets with them. I would have been forced to unfollow you. Pen #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      I make no comment on whether or not I have disabled said app! Just be aware though, that they are the Devil’s work and nothing to do with me, even if they appear to have my name on and be coming from my Twitter feed….

  19. Bumbi's Mom says:

    This is funny. I like the point of looking at who actually says these things! Thanks for linking up with the #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for hosting and commenting!

  20. The Pramshed says:

    I’m not one for an inspirational quote, my Facebook and Instagram feed are full of my friends posting them – I don’t really understand that, but probably to show friends how they are feeling. Some people love them to provide positivity, some have no real opinion, and some hate them. But like you, I don’t see them as a way to life live at all. I didn’t know that there was an app, that must drive you nuts, can you delete it? I now have S Club 7 in my head, at least it’s sunny today, so that’s ok. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday. Claire x

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I could delete it, but people seem to love them and retweet them all the time, so the cynical me thinks it’s worth it if it gets me a few admiring followers. Is that bad?

  21. Silly Mummy says:

    Haha – I am so with you on this, & that moon one has always annoyed me. I’ve seen it in gift shops all over the place, and I can’t cope with the astronomical (literally) inaccuracy! I actually LOVE quotes. But I like the cutting wit of Wilde, GBS, Dorothy Parker, Mae West. Things that only inspire you to insult someone that hilariously. & Douglas Adams. I am obsessed with Douglas Adams’ quotes. #FridayFrolics

    1. Min says:

      Haha, yes, a witty and cutting quote is always good, Shakespearean insult style. Now those I can get on board with, it’s the motivational ones I can’t stand!

  22. Davina says:

    This is too funny! I hate these damned things. I have some friends who endlessly post them and it’s just like, fuck off already with your “encouragements”. Because none of them ever make me feel better about anything. Ever. I’ll take my life advice with a much sarcasm and wit as possible, thanks ;). #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      YES, YES, YES. The only way to live is through sarcasm and wit. Can I make that a quote and stick it on the wall?

  23. Love your sense of humour Min! I am a lover of quotes, though only ones that make sense not the ones that have words for the sake of bloody words!

    1. Min says:

      Haha, thanks! Some of them are OK, it’s just that they seem to be everywhere these days. Little blurbs for the internet age.

  24. That really made me actually laugh out loud (couldn’t bring myself to type lol). Excellent work. They are bloody nauseating, aren’t they?!
    I had the *pleasure* of hand painting quotes onto the walls of a local cafe. She has sold it now – I bet the first thing they do is paint over all the quotes… I hope that is the first thing they do. It actually destroyed part of me to do that.
    As I have said somewhere else today already, my inspirational quote would be “If it needs ironing, don’t buy it.” Is that inspirational? I don’t know. But it is meaningful for me. 😀
    x Alice

    1. Min says:

      I’d say that’s pretty inspirational-or at the very least it is an excellent piece of advice. I’d love to know what the quotes on the cafe were!

  25. Haha this made me giggle! Some of them are just so cringe. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

    1. Min says:

      They certainly are. Thanks for hosting!

  26. Savannah says:

    This is sooo funny, and had me laughing so hard! Those ‘inspirational’ quotes drive me absolutely bonkers because, like you said, they really aren’t inspirational at all. Not only do they fail to inspire me, but they’re not realistic at all!! Thanks for sharing <3 #justanotherlinky

    1. Min says:

      I know-some of them are just ludicrous. You do get the occasional one that’s OK, but it’s almost like an industry out there, churning them out all over our newsfeeds.

  27. Never mock the pure wonder and poetry that was S Club 7! ?

    1. Min says:

      They were ace!

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