5 Quotes That Forced Me to Live a More Meaningful Life

Devin Arrigo
Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
I’m a big believer in motivational quotes. I love words and ideas that push me to dream bigger, work harder, love deeper, and fight to create the life I want.
  • In my closet, “Be the Example” is pasted on the wall — a reminder that whether I know it or not, people are always watching.
  • On my bathroom mirror, you’ll find “Be Extraordinary at the Ordinary” on a sticky note a reminder to always be willing to do the “little things” in life.
  • On my laptop, I have a sticky note that says, “Don’t be perfect, be consistent.” — a reminder that mistakes will happen, but if I keep showing up, I can’t fail.

None of these quotes alone have changed my life. But seeing them multiple times a day has improved my mindset and renewed my outlook on life.

When I’m feeling unmotivated and walk into the bathroom to pee, I’m subtly reminded that this is a defining moment. If I push through my lack of motivation, tomorrow I’ll be better off.

It’s these seemingly insignificant, “little” moments — compounded over days, weeks, months, and years — that eventually lead to success.

If you can make enough “little” decisions, you’ll eventually have big success. That’s why I love a good motivational or inspirational quote. Here are five of the quotes that have improved my life and can help you do the same.

The Quote That Keeps Me Dreaming for a Better Life

“The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” — Will Smith

This may sound a bit harsh, but I’m going to say it anyway.

There are very few things in life that I’m good at.

Whether it was high school sports, college, or writing online, I’ve never been gifted or naturally-talented. Nonetheless, I always found a way to make it work. Whether it was practicing on my own, late nights in the library, or consistently writing — things always seemed to work out for me.

This quote reminds me that my lack of talent is not an excuse to give up or quit. Everything that I’ve ever succeeded in has been the result of hard work, or as Will Smith puts it, “hours and hours of beating on my craft.”

I can still succeed; I just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen. Very few people are born with an innate natural talent. That means that most of us have to rely on work ethic, mindset, and hustle to make things happen in life.

The Quote That Motivates Me to Look at My Feet Not Down the Road

“Just do the thing, every single day. Whether you feel like it or not. Your only commitment is to the activity. Not to the grand scheme, not to the big picture, not to the implications of what you’re doing. It’s to do the thing.” — Elliott Hulse

I’ve always been fascinated with writing online. There’s something so powerful about getting the ideas in my head out onto the screen. My goal is to eventually quit my 9-to-5 job to become a full-time writer.

While an incredible goal, staring down the barrel of the long road ahead is daunting and scary. However, this quote reminds me that looking that far in the future is a useless strategy.

When working towards your goals, focus on the now. Focus on today, or the task at hand.

Focus on ultimate derivative of what you’re trying to accomplish, not the long-term goal.

If you want to be a bodybuilder, focus on the workout you have today. Forget about tomorrow, next week, or next year. If you can’t get today’s workout done, next week’s is irrelevant.

Don’t get look so far in the future that you scare yourself into thinking it’s impossible. Nothing happens overnight. Focus on doing the thing today. Then wake up and do the thing again tomorrow. Do that day after day, and eventually, you’ll reach your goal.

The Quote That Reminds Me That Life is Big, Beautiful and Sometimes Sad

Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. “ — Jimmy Valvano

I first heard this quote in my high school accounting class. It was the day before Christmas break, and like my class, our teacher also wanted to ease into the break. He rolled a TV into the classroom and put on the 1993 ESPY speech by the late Jimmy Valvano.

Although the speech took place before I was born, hearing it nearly 20 years later completely changed my life.

Jimmy V was a legendary college basketball coach who lost a hard-fought battle to cancer. Revered by his players, he coached NC State University to one of the greatest Cinderella story endings in college basketball history — concluding with a win in the 1983 NCAA Championship.

Jimmy V was a player, coach, broadcaster, husband, and brother. But above all — he was a guy who never, ever gave up. When hit with the devastating news that cancer had taken over his body, he never let it control him.

In 1993, Jimmy V gave a passionate, emotional ESPY speech that, to this day, brings me to tears. In the midst of a gruesome fight with cancer, he talks about his outlook on life, raising money for his cancer-fighting charity, and how he plans to make the most of every day he has left — by laughing, thinking, and crying every day.

In his final remarks, Jimmy V closes with the famous words that now describe the speech he gave just two months before he passed away…

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

The Quote That Drives Me to Be Unapologetically Myself

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

When I was in high school, I tried so hard to make sure people didn’t see me for who I truly was. I didn’t want to let my true feelings out. I was afraid that if people knew who I actually was, they wouldn't like me as a person.

As I’ve grown up, I realized this is a dead-end mentality.

The real tragedy was not acting like myself in trying to please other people. If you can’t be your true self, then you’ll never be happy.

This quote reminds me that the world needs more people who are who they truly are. Who don’t apologize when they do something “weird” or “silly.” That laugh, smile, play, and have fun — because they’re comfortable with who they are and what they like to do.

This quote ultimately reminds me to be myself. The world needs more people who are unapologetically themselves. People that know who they are and don’t apologize to anyone for it. People that are honest, true, and real.

The Quote That Drove Me to Run a Marathon and an IRONMAN 70.3

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn

When I was in 7th grade, my parents sat me down on the couch and told me they were getting a divorce. As an oblivious middle-schooler, I was completely blindsided.

Not sure of what to do next, I didn’t say anything. I immediately stormed out of the house, grabbed my rollerblades and hockey stick, and went to play street hockey by myself.

Tears rolling down my face, I used sport to escape the reality of my parents' divorce.

That day was a defining moment for me. From that day on, health and fitness have been my best friend, confidant, and the deepest form of meditation. Not only does it keep me mentally strong, but it keeps my body physically healthy.

This quote reminds me that our bodies are something to be cherished, not destroyed. Junk food, soda, alcohol — it’s all good in moderation. But excess of anything will ultimately lead us down the wrong path.

When I find myself ignoring my health for too long, I often come back to this quote. Life is a roller coaster — there will be times of good health and times of bad health.

But ultimately, we get one body. If you can’t find the time to keep in tip-top shape, you’ll spend more time in the doctor's office than enjoying the life you have.

Final Thoughts

These are a few of the quotes that have inspired the life that I live today. These are the words and phrases that resonate with me. They might not be the ones that resonate the most with you.

I encourage you to discover a handful of quotes that resonate with you and then paste them where you’ll see them daily. The bathroom mirror, your iPhone lock-screen, or even the wall you see when you're on the toilet.

Your mindset is never going to be perfect. But every time you see a quote that inspires or motivates you, it will light a fire under your butt. And it will remind you why you started in the first place.

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Marathon runner | Triathlete | Personal growth addict | Writing about creative ways to become a better human being. devin.arrigo1@gmail.com

Los Angeles, CA

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