Confession: I love inspirational quotations. I love the idea that these little nuggets of wisdom can help us deal with our lives.

They’re not perfect — they only scratch the surface of ideas. I know some people prefer other tools; they find short, inspirational quotes sappy or too shallow to be useful. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all deal with things differently, and if they don’t help you, they don’t help you.

Luckily for me, though, I like sappy stuff and these short little soundbites are perfect for times when I have trouble concentrating on anything deeper or more complex, and I struggle to keep sight of what’s important.

For me, quotes help me slog through spikes in my OCD symptoms or periods of depression. If I remembered to use them, they’d probably help ground me when my mood soars, too.

A few years ago, my mom gave my sisters and I “memory jars,” where we could write down good memories and save them to read when we’re down. At the time, I was really down, so I began using the jar to save quotes that helped me cope instead. I got past that time, but I still use the jar to save my favorite inspirational sayings, and I pull them out to read when I’m struggling.

I figured I’d share the three that help me the most:

1. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Unknown

This one is usually attributed to Winston Churchill, and it definitely sounds like the sort of pithy, colorful thing the World War II-era British prime minister would say. However, Churchill experts say it wasn’t him, and there are several contenders for who actually said it.

Regardless of who uttered the words, it’s probably my favorite quote. “Hell” is the perfect description of the mental state I’m in when my OCD goes through the roof. (I would describe the way my depression works to make everything painfully boring more like “heck.”)

So how do you get past it? Pull on your poo-kicking boots and slog through. It seems impossible, and a lot of times you can’t see the end of the journey, but keep slogging. Eventually you’ll get through it, or at least to a more bearable layer of hell.

Besides, if you stop, you just get stuck.

2. “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” — Buddha

A lot of times, I get caught up in ways I’ve “failed.” There were things I wanted to do by the time I was 30 that, at 33, I still have not accomplished, and they’re not yet within reach. Maybe they’ll never be. And when my mood starts to drop, I begin to think about these milestones and worry that because I haven’t reached them, I’m a failure and I should give up.

But you know what? Even though my life now looks very little like I imagined it 10 or 15 years ago, I’ve been learning and growing and moving forward most of the time. When I’ve fallen, I’ve gotten back up. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it’s hard, but I’ve managed it every time so far. And that’s pretty good.

3. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a terrible mood (or when my great mood spins past happy and hyper into irritability), I want to lash out at people. It’s easy to see the negative and grump about it.

When it comes to the situation, I usually grump away. Sometimes life sucks, and sometimes it feels good to vent about it.

But I really, really try to keep this quote in mind when I feel the urge to lash out at a person. Sometimes you’re in a terrible mood and a rude cashier or bad driver isn’t helping. It’s OK to be annoyed, but when you express that annoyance in a hurtful way and tear others down, it doesn’t help your own mood (probably) and it doesn’t add anything to the world.

Meanwhile, being kind may not help your mood at that moment, but at least it can help someone else’s, and that’s something to hang on to when you feel crummy. I don’t always succeed in clamping down on that desire to grump non-stop, but I always at least try.

Those are a few of my favorites. I have many more, and spend a lot of time when I need a distraction browsing the quotes at Tiny Buddha, Brainy Quote and other sites for new ones to add to my collection.

Do you have a favorite quote that helps you when you’re feeling down?

Photo by Inspiyr