WANDERING YOGI COLUMNIST: Lee Carsley admits to being that friend with the inspirational sayings – but are they really that motivating?

Wandering Yogi columnist Lee Carsley

Seen any inspirational sayings today? If you’re on any social media, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Did one of your Facebook friends share some ‘carpe diem’-style quote designed to add a bit of get-up-and-go to your Tuesday morning? That’s me, I’m that friend and I love an inspirational saying. Here’s your yearly dose from me right now:

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will
you be polished?” Rumi
“If your compassion does not include yourself, then it is incomplete.” Buddha
“No act of kindness, no matter how small,
is ever wasted.” Aesop

They’re goodies, right? Some of these sayings are from genuinely smart people, like this one from Dr. Seuss: “Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT?” You’d expect nothing less from Dr. Seuss. He’s a doctor, after all. Or how about this from Einstein? “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” You can’t argue with that. Who’s smarter than Einstein? And I love a good productive quote too: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Damn right, Abraham Lincoln (at least that’s who it’s attributed to). I say this one to myself when I should be writing but instead I’m wasting time reading inspirational sayings on social media.
You’ve almost certainly heard them all before. Maybe your eyes are rolling, about to skip the page, or reaching for that cup of coffee – but bear with me. Ultimately, they all deliver the same basic message which is: “You are great; you can do it; you are unique, wonderful, etcetera, etcetera.” I don’t have a problem with that missive, do you? This can only be a good thing, right?
Ok, maybe I have a teeny problem. Because whilst most people’s eyes glaze over at another “You’ve Got This” affirmation, I’m taking notes. I read every single one, giving them thoughtful consideration and even changing my daily activities based on what I read as I pick up the mobile that morning. Maybe I’m addicted. But on the whole, I think a little social media pick-me-up is a nice thing to put out there.
However, I have to confess not all #inspirational tags do it for me. Like this one from Rumi: “Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” That’s a little scary. In a literal sense, does this mean I have to answer my phone and be excited every time it rings? I doubt my spirit would be excited about a call from the bank manager. I’m not sure I don’t want to do a bit of call screening; to decide whether that opportunity is for me. Unless it’s Channing Tatum calling. In which case, I’m definitely motivated.
We often do affirmations in my yoga classes – one of my all-time favourite sayings is by Thich Nhat Hanh: “Smile, breath and go slowly.” Most of the yogis with the ANZA group will hear this at least once a week in my class guiding. It is obvious, but hardly ever practiced, yet now most of them smile, slow down and remember to breath!
Suffice to say, not all messages will resonate with you; one man’s karmic lightning is another man’s sceptical thunder – but try and find the ones that do and thus be inspired.

Lee Carsley is an executive coach and leadership expert-turned-yoga instructor, who currently runs ANZA’s yoga classes each week.