16 Funny Motivational Quotes About Life That Will Make You Laugh
How do you develop motivation?
Motivation is the affirmative desire to accomplish something, but it isn’t a prerequisite for accomplishing it. However, it sure can help. When you’re not feeling motivated, getting things accomplished can feel like an enormous burden. So, clearly, it’s in your best interest to find your motivation. But the question is how?
“It’s easy to believe motivation is a feeling that just happens to hit us, randomly, like a bolt of lighting,” says Melanie Shmois, a cognitive behavioral therapist in Western Reserve Counseling, in Avon Lake, Ohio. “But the truth is motivation isn’t a feeling. Rather, it’s a manifestation of thought, and you can create it by adjusting your mindset.” The challenge is figuring out what sort of mindset you need to cultivate motivation. For some, the right mindset involves setting goals, but that won’t necessarily work for someone who finds it challenging to connect actions with results, particularly if the results can’t be seen immediately (like weight loss or earning a degree).
“I like to help my patients figure out what stands in the way of their feeling motivated,” says Amy Axtell, a mental health counselor at A Center for Change in Tucson. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s a lack of self-confidence. One way to change the narrative is to literally change the narrative voice in your head to one that’s, say, kinder, more encouraging, and has a sense of humor.
So, if you’re like comedian John Mulaney, who says, “things have to be funny first, and if they have a point, that’s awesome,” then these funny motivational quotes will help you find inspiration.
Give it your all (within reason)
Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.” —Bill Murray
Bill Murray’s career as a comedian, writer, and actor has spanned half a century, and one reason it’s lasted so long is work comes first, and he’s not going to let up until it’s done. “When I work, my first relationship with people is professional. There are people who want to be your friend right away. I say, ‘We’re not gonna be friends until we get this done. If we don’t get this done, we’re never going to be friends, because if we don’t get the job done, then the one thing we did together that we had to do together we failed.'” (Is being more healthy one of your goals? Here’s how to set health resolutions for every month.)
Stop procrastinating because who knows what tomorrow brings
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” —Erma Bombeck
Procrastination can be bad for your health—and that includes your mental health. Humorist Erma Bombeck understood that well. As a woman who often waved off the dessert cart, she understood that the concept of carpe diem can also be applied to the joy in life—not just your to-do list. So if you need to get motivated, remember that life is short. It’s important to find and experience joy—to seize those moments—when you can.
Motivate, rinse, repeat
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar
Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar was an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, and it seems that combination worked for him. His unique style of connecting with people on a shared level made him trustworthy, believable, and ultimately, a source of inspiration. This quote, which epitomizes Ziglar’s style, is a reminder that motivation is something you have to cultivate every day of your life. Like your teeth, if you ignore it, it will disappear. (Try these tricks for exercise motivation.)
Don’t give up even when the going gets tough
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” —Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, the two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, who in his first term led the U.K. to victory in World War II, saw his share of suffering throughout his life, which spanned the reigns of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII, King George VI, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. So the Bulldog, as he was called because of his ferocious tenacity, knew of what he spoke when he offered up this bit of advice to “never surrender,” period. (Here’s how to develop a positive attitude.)
Stop thinking, stop making excuses, and start doing
“My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” —Andy Rooney
When writer and television news columnist Andy Rooney passed away at age 92 in 2011, the world lost its go-to curmudgeonly pundit who told it like it is. Over a period of 33 years, Rooney made 1,097 appearances on the television news magazine, 60 Minutes. That’s a lot of ideas he had to come up with week after week. If anyone has a right to have no patience for “writer’s block,” it was Andy Rooney. (Here are some short inspirational quotes to make your day.)
Commit to completing
“Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda, from Star Wars
Standing at only 66 cm tall, Yoda was nevertheless one of the most renowned and powerful Jedi Masters in “galactic history,” but those who can never get enough funny motivational quotes might remember him best for making it really clear why committing to “try” is no commitment at all. You want to accomplish something? Do it. That is all. (Also, adopt these habits to improve mental health.)
Great ideas require discipline to carry out
“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” —Dorothy Parker
While witty, wise-cracking, satirist Dorothy Parker was known for a love of whiskey and general carousing, her discipline was unmatched. That’s how she managed to be so incredibly prolific, infusing New York and American culture in the first half of the 20th century with bon mot after bon mot, many of which were not stand-alones, but embedded in longer, well-structured essays, poems, and short stories. (Here’s how reading poetry can boost happiness.)
Don’t have a great idea? Find one.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London
Jack London was also a prolific writer, and apparently, when he didn’t have any idea what to write about, he went out and found one. Thank goodness, because without him, there would be no Call of the Wild, no Buck or the Saint Bernard/Sheepdog mix in the book, and no movie starring Harrison Ford. (Feeling down? Here are therapist tips for finding hope.)
Walk the walk
“A peacock that rests on his tail feathers is just another turkey.” —Dolly Parton
You know who has never rested on her tail feathers? Country music icon, Dolly Parton, that’s who. So when she gives free advice on walking the walk, you’re going to want to listen. (Beware of bad health advice on the Internet though.)
Quell the inner critic and just keep doing
“So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you’re on the right track.” —Ed Helms
This was the advice actor (and star of television’s The Office), comedian, singer, and musician, Ed Helms, gave to the 2013 graduating class of Knox College. That was the same year The Office finished its 10-year television run, but already several years after Helms first made a splash in The Hangover. As nice as it might be to make big Hollywood movies, it can also be challenging to have your work watched and critiqued by millions of people around the world. It’s enough to make you stop in your tracks and, well, just stop. But Helms’ advice? Don’t let the inner critic stop you from meeting and exceeding your expectations. Clearly, he’s onto something. (Here are some of the best quotes from graduation speakers.)
Be persistent in the face of challenges
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” —Vince Lombardi
American football coach, Vince Lombardi’s career really took off when he decided to embrace a challenge. That challenge was coaching the NFL Green Bay Packers, which were a losing team when he started and a two-time Super Bowl championship team by the time he was done with them. Not only did Lombardi inspire his team, but he also inspired the late 1990’s hit song, Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down), by Chumbawumba. (Here are 2019’s most inspiring moments for people with disabilities.)
If you don’t do it, someone else will
“Even if you’re on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” —Will Rogers
Born on a Native American reservation in what is now Oklahoma, Will Rogers grew up on a ranch and often played country “bumpkins.” Rogers was not only smart and sophisticated, but he was also incredibly hardworking, having made his mark as a Broadway actor, a Hollywood actor, a newspaper columnist, and author, among other things. His advice was heartfelt and clearly words he lived by. (Strike a balance with work and pleasure with “me time.”)
Let fear motivate you, rather than discourage you
“Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.” ―Chuck Palahniuk
These words appear in Palahniuk’s novel, Invisible Monsters, which he wrote before Fight Club, but which came out only after Fight Club became a hit. Invisible Monsters is about a beautiful, seemingly shallow woman whose life changes radically after she suffers a devastating car accident that destroys half her face. The story is dark, even for the author of Fight Club, but that didn’t stop him from managing to put these inspirational words into print. (Feeling depressed? These depression quotes may capture your mood.)
Stop wasting time
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”―Charles Dickens
“Never do tomorrow what you can do today,” says Wilkins Micawber to David Copperfield in the novel, David Copperfield, before getting to the good stuff about procrastination. Ever an optimist, Micawber, was modeled after Dickens’ father, so it’s safe to assume that what Micawber said was alright by Dickens. And who would doubt it? Carpe diem, as they say. Seize the day.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
“To be is to do — Socrates. To do is to be — Jean-Paul Sartre. Do be do be do—Frank Sinatra.” —Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut was a wildly successful author and one with incredible intelligence and wit. But he also had depression. Cultivating a satirical edge was one way he coped, and the world got the benefit in the form of such masterpieces as Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle. Here, he takes two motivational quotes, one from the ancient philosopher, Socrates, the other from French existential author, Jean-Paul Sartre, and mashes them up with Frank Sinatra’s famous “Stranger in the Night” scat. The result is at once absurd and effective as a funny motivational quote.
Never give up
“It ain’t over til it’s over.” —Yogi Berra
In a rare moment, baseball great, Yogi Berra, who was known for his athletic talent as well as his hilarious, paradoxical one-liners, offers advice that doesn’t actually contradict itself. What he’s saying is you never really know when it’s over until it’s already over, so the only right time to stop trying is when they’re turning off the stadium lights and sweeping the field. (Next, read these self-care quotes to take care of your body and mind.)
- Melanie Shmois, MSSA, cognitive behavioral therapist in Western Reserve Counseling, in Avon Lake, Ohio
- Amy Axtell, LPC, mental health counselor at A Center for Change in Tucson
- MacMillan Dictionary: "Winston Churchill, stiff upper lip"
- Star Wars Fandom: "Yoda"
- Knox College: "Ed Helms speech"
- Biography: "Ed Helms"
- The Restaurant Boss: "Will Rogers"
- Literaturepage.com: "David Copperfield, Chapter 12"