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Quotations about Adversity

The earth is sliced into furrows that seeds may burst with life; even thus with our wounds. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "The Eternal Balance," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

I forget just when, as a child reading fairy tales, I realized that you can "live happily ever after" after almost any gosh-darn thing. ~Robert Brault,

The only thing that's the end of the world is the end of the world. ~President Barack Obama, farewell press conference, 2017 January 18th

I shall come, not as one who has escaped pain, but as one who has glorified it. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Longing: XXII," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. ~Sigmund Wollman, quoted by Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh, 1991

For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I'm ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks... "Problem or inconvenience?" I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. ~Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh

Many things are hard... Life comes at you in pieces sometimes too big to avoid. ~Simon Van Booy, The Illusion of Separateness, 2013

Child, when hard luck fall it just keep fallin'. ~Alice Childress, Wine in the Wilderness, 1969 [Oldtimer –tg]

Yet this is what we must do if we want to make a real success of life. We must master the unpleasant, instead of letting the unpleasant master us. ~H. Addington Bruce, Nerve Control and How to Gain It, 1918

You peer into my life to find a lingering past, but I tell you it was sunk ten thousand fathoms deep and weighted down with my dead self. You look into my breast to find that old, old open wound, but I tell you I seared it with my hot tears and only the cicatrix is there. You look into my eyes to read that oft-told story of defeat, but I tell you that the plot was changed and you will see the flag of conquest waving from the turrets of my soul. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief... ~William Shakespeare, Othello, c.1604  [I, 3, Duke of Venice]

Earth's tribulations diminish in proportion to the elevation of our souls. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, 1990

And then again in the very effort to do anything, however small, one is hampered by circumstances at every step till we are inclined to throw up the fight in despair... "Circumstances" spur as much as they hinder us; it is in the struggle day by day with them that we gain muscle for the real life fight... ~John Richard Green, letter to Louise von Glehn, 1870

The best thing I know in favor of TIGHT SHOES is that it makes a fellow forget all of his other troubles. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague

Pain is the great teacher of mankind. Beneath its breath souls develop. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882

Bad is never good until worse happens. ~Proverb

There's not a woe that is not sent to leave some good behind it,
If only we would search it out, and trust until we find it...
There's many cares to dog our steps, and many griefs distress us,
But never yet a sorrow came that was not meant to bless us.
~Lizzie Marshall Berry (1847–1919), "Ill Winds," Heart Echoes: Original Miscellaneous and Devotional Poems, 1886

So, boys and girls, you must learn to rough it a little. Don't be a china doll, going to smash at every hard knock. If you get hard blows take them cheerily and as easily as you can. Even if some blow comes when you least expect it, and knocks you off your feet for a minute, don't let it floor you long.... keep right on in a happy, companionable, courageous, helpful spirit, and let the world know that you don't break easily. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "The Strenuous Life," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

My soul is like the oar that momently
Dies in a desperate stress beneath the wave,
Then glitters out again and sweeps the sea:
Each second I'm new-born from some new grave.
~Sidney Lanier, "Struggle," 1877

Life may take everything out of my days, but the real things remain. You may destroy my castles, but I have the timbers to build ten thousand more. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXXXIII," A Soul's Faring, 1921

If, when most desperate, we examine our misery, we find it but a drop spattered from seas of trouble. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Sometimes in tragedy we find our life's purpose — the eye sheds a tear to find its focus. ~Robert Brault,

Not alone for that which is mine will I rejoice, but for that which has been withheld, which was coveted and longed for, but denied, for I am what I am for having had to rise superior to the need. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

We carry our burden on and on, until one day, suddenly, we laugh and set it down upon the ground. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

The smoothest path is no guarantee against a broken neck. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter. ~George Gritter, 1950s

Suffering is above, not below. And everyone thinks that suffering is below. And everyone wants to rise. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

Linger not in your sorrows. You do not belong there. ~Dodinsky

The Lord gives us friends to push us to our potential — and enemies to push us beyond it. ~Robert Brault,

...the beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, 1929

There's a curious thing about pain or hardship. In the beginning, it's an enemy, it's something that you don't want to face or think about or deal with. Yet with time it becomes almost a friend. If you've lost someone you love very much, in the beginning you can't bear it, but as the years go by, the pain of losing them is what reminds you so vividly of them — that they were alive. ~Audrey Hepburn, 1990

Fortune knocks but once at any man's door, but misfortune has much more patience. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968

Everybody wishes Miss Fortune would get married and settle down. ~Detroit Journal, 1921

Adversity and failure are woven into the fabric of existence; without them, there can be neither test of mettle nor triumph of success. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Difficulties were opportunities inside out, she assured herself... ~Gwen Davis, Marriage, 1981

Don't mind a few bruises. Life's paths are full of stones and thorns. All are bound to hurt a little. ~Minna Thomas Antrim (1861–1950), Don'ts for Girls, 1902

But you know my motto — problems are only opportunities with thorns on them. ~Hugh Miller, Snow on the Wind, 1987

thorns and stings
and those such things
just make stronger
our angel wings
~Terri Guillemets, "Pierced flight," 2003

Half the annoyances of life will disappear if one is only patient under them. Almost all the other half will go the same way if one does not worry over them. ~Frank A. De Puy, "Happiness in the Home: Be Patient," The New Century Home Book, 1900

Sometimes I think my life would make a great TV movie. It even has the part where they say, "Stand by. We are experiencing temporary difficulties." ~Robert Brault,

Life may break my body and my days — and my soul may laugh at her impotency.
She may destroy me, and I may go laughing over the hills. A few hours mutilated, and eternity lies in the residuum.
She may mar the realities, but what of my dreams!
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Longing: V," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

Yes, one must suffer, even in vain, so as not to have lived in vain. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

When in sickness, age, or sorrow,
Through great shadows we must move,
Of all earthly lights the dearest
Shines from hearts of those we love.
~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Despair is anger with no place to go. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

Life is hard to bear. But do not pretend to be so frail! We are all good he-asses and she-asses of burden. ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), "Of Reading and Writing," Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated from the German by Alexander Tille, 1896

Again and again we cry "I can bear no more!" — that is the human of us. And again and again we bear more, — that is the god of us. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXI," A Soul's Faring, 1921

It's because so much happens. Too much happens. That's it. Man performs, engenders, so much more than he can or should have to bear. That's how he finds that he can bear anything. That's it. That's what is so terrible. That he can bear anything, anything. ~William Faulkner

When I see a man who, bravely,
      Meets realities in life,
      Who carries on, courageously,
      In the face of grief and strife;
Then, I bow my head in honour
      Of this man, with courage rare,
      Who has such strength of character,
      Who, bravely, his burdens bears!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham (1880–1971), "Courage"

This we know:
We were
not meant
to suffer
so much
& to learn
~Alice Walker, from "The Taste of Grudge," Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, 2010

...every struggle is a dance... ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands, 1948, translated by Stuart Gilbert, 1950

Notice the disappointing things and marvelous things at the same time, because they dance with one another. ~Dr. SunWolf,

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. ~Captain C. C. Scott, as quoted in Forbes, 1932

The winds of misfortune always bring some seeds of opportunity. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968

I guess if you take away the pain in life it means having no beauty to hope for. ~Daniel, @blindedpoet

I'm not afraid of pain. Pain is life. ~Madison, from Florida, on Dr. Pimple Popper, "Do Iguanas Get Pimples Too?," 2022  [S8, E3]

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. ~Horace

There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom is — no man knows what a ministering angel she is — until he has gone with her through the fiery trials of this world. ~Washington Irving, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 1820

Blessings will only come from uncomfortable states. ~Rev. Jacob A. Brooks, New Life Ministry of Silsbee

O believe and persevere! Possess thy soul in patience, and comfort will follow in its proper season... That which afflicts thee, is a trial for thy good; and that which terrifies thee, is a false and groundless fear: and what other effect doth thy extreme anxiety about the events of to-morrow produce, than the accumulation of anguish upon anguish? ~Thomas À Kempis, "Of Submission to God in the Hour of Tribulation and Confidence in Returning Grace," The Imitation of Christ, 15th century, translated from the Latin by John Payne, 1815

People are resilient. After all, every person born has recovered from nine months on life support. ~Robert Brault,

But while to propose to be a better man is a piece of unscientific cant, to have become a deeper man is the privilege of those who have suffered. And such I think I have become. ~Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

I am the strength that was born of my weakness. I am the steadfastness that came out of my wavering. I am the joy of living that was born of my despair. I am the poise that was born of my great unrest. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

A new wound makes all the old ones ache again. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

Don't be an easy-doing child, do hard things too. Remember a blacksmith never got a big muscle by hammering an inch nail, but by swinging a heavy hammer while beating out an iron bar. Sometimes we must run hard roads, through briers, over sharp stones, and any which way. ~Sunday School Helper, 1897  [a little altered —tg]

It is the hard things that make men. It is hard things that bring mental discipline and mental muscle. It is what brings out manhood, to really conquer something. ~Proceedings of the Dedication of the New Buildings of the Central High School, Philadelphia, 1902  [a little altered —tg]

When life gives you lemons, please, just don't squirt them in other people's eyes. ~J. Andrew Helt

I think it's good to get knocked around a little bit sometimes. I think it's good to rise from the fire... It's a good opportunity to rejuvenate your motivation, to see that hill and go climb it. ~k.d. lang, 1997

The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt. ~Max Lerner, 1957

Don't trouble trouble 'til trouble troubles you. ~Author unknown

Had life been more abundant, I could not know the deep craving that comes from the sparsity of it. Had it been more verdant, I could not know the desert's pain. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

Sooner or later, you will need to make friends with Disappointment. ~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2016,

Suffering... few people seem able to rouse themselves from their "soul sleep" without it. ~Florence Scovel Shinn, The Game of Life and How To Play It, 1925

It went in a Sorrow, but through the alchemy of Self, it came out a Song. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

I remembered Tucker telling me that luck was no lady; luck was a mean drunk who didn't know when to stop punching. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018

Invite your melancholy outside for a walk. Or read it a poem. Or bake it chocolate chip cookies. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Break bread with your darkness. Put down the stone in your fist. Write a poem on it, instead. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Lost dreams may help you find new dreams. ~J Charles White, @connect1492, January 2013 winner of The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts. ~Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977

If we don't face and overcome unsettling events in life, we are ruled by them. ~Bones, "The Babe in the Bar," original airdate 2010 November 18th, spoken by the character Dr. Sweets, writing credits K.Rosenthal, H.Hanson, K.Reichs, D.Lopata, and M.Peterson

Pain is sometimes the cost of a meaningful existence. I can handle that. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson

At times, challenges hit with the force of a roaring, rushing waterfall. The true test, however, is whether you can put your arms up and enjoy the feel of the water. ~Aviva Kaufman

Us to teach that love and grace
In darkest days may blossom,
And that a tender bloom of hope
May shine in sorrow's bosom.
~J.J. Britton (1832–1913), "A White Hyacinth"

The rays of happiness, like those of light, are colorless when unbroken. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh, 1849

I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. ~Ernest Hemingway, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According To Hemingway, 2008

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss... We learn geology the morning after the earthquake, on ghastly diagrams of cloven mountains, upheaved plains, and the dry bed of the sea. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Considerations By the Way," The Conduct of Life, 1860

The frost which kills the harvest of a year, saves the harvests of a century, by destroying the weevil or the locust. Wars, fires, plagues, break up immovable routine... There is a tendency in things to right themselves... The sharpest evils are bent into that periodicity which makes the errors of planets, and the fevers and distempers of men, self-limiting. Nature is upheld by antagonism. Passions, resistance, danger, are educators. We acquire the strength we have overcome. Without war, no soldier; without enemies, no hero... All the glory of character is in affronting the horrors of depravity, to draw thence new nobilities of power... ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Considerations By the Way," The Conduct of Life, 1860

God uses suffering as a whetstone, to make men sharp with. ~Henry Ward Beecher

The fact that life is a grind is what sharpens many a man's wits. ~Boston Transcript, 1923

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~Winston Churchill

Pour on; I will endure. ~William Shakespeare, King Lear, c.1605  [III, 4, Lear]

Who said a dilemma had only two horns? He must have been fooling around with little dilemmas before they were of age. A real dilemma has between eight and ten pairs of horns and can kill you as far as you can see it and vice versa. ~Ernest Hemingway, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According To Hemingway, 2008

DILEMMA  Comes from dill, a pickle, and Emma, a person. A person in a pickle. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Altogether New Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz, 1914

ADVERSITY  A bottomless lake, surrounded by near-sighted friends. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904

Perhaps this was rock bottom. But then, she had thought that before, and there was always a little farther to fall. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018

Things are tough all over
But I've got good news
When you get down to nothin'
You've got nothin' to lose
Anyway, rock bottom
Is good solid ground
And a dead-end street
Is just a place to turn around
~J. R. Cobb & Buddy Buie, "Rock Bottom," performed by Wynonna Judd, 1994 ♫

The bitterest things are sweets misunderstood... ~Mark Van Doren, "The Bitterest Things," 1948

[L]ook evil in the face; walk up to it, and you will find it less than you imagined, and often you will not find it at all; for it will recede as you advance. ~Sydney Smith, "A Little Moral Advice: A Fragment on the Cultivation and Improvement of the Animal Spirits"

Sometimes when Fortune scowls most spitefully, she is preparing her most dazzling gifts. ~Winston Churchill, 1931

Men have made them gods of love,
      Sun-gods, givers of the rain,
      Deities of hill and grove:
      I have made a god of Pain.
Of my god I know this much,
      And singing I repeat,
      Though there's anguish in his touch,
      Yet his soul within is sweet.
~Æ (George William Russell), "Pain," Homeward Songs by the Way, 1894

We won't break, Mary. We look very small, but the reed can carry weight. ~Emily Dickinson, 1862

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too...
~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, 1990

What is to give light must endure burning. ~Anton Wildgans (1881–1932), quoted by Viktor Frankl

The truth is, we pamper little griefs into great ones, and bear great ones as well as we can. ~William Hazlitt, "On Great and Little Things," Table-Talk, 1822

A willing, working, soft-hearted, not hard-headed fellow, Plornish took his fortune as smoothly as could be expected; but it was a rough one.... he tumbled into all kinds of difficulties, and tumbled out of them; and, by tumbling through life, got himself considerably bruised. ~Charles Dickens (1812–1870)

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in a new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.
~Edwin Markham, "Victory in Defeat," c. 1908

So do the Winds, and Thunders cleanse the Air:
So working Seas settle and purge the Wine;
So lop't and pruned Trees do flourish fair,
So doth the Fire the drossy Gold refine.
~John Davies, "Nosce Teipsum," 1599

If the wind will not serve, take to the oars. ~Proverb

Misfortune is a Wind that, rising higher,
Blows out the Match but fans the Steady Fire.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Indomitability," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Adversity is like a strong wind. I don't mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha, 1997, translated by Jakob Haarhuis

When life takes the wind out of your sails, it is to test you at the oars. ~Robert Brault,

When you forget to take the sail at all, then the wind is constantly in your favour both ways. But there! this world is only a probation, and man was born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. ~Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), 1889

There is no seamanship on a smooth sea and in a fair wind. The storm is what makes the mariner. ~William Ellis, 1904

Say not that this or that thing came to thwart you; it only came to test you. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers," in The Open Court, August 1903

Flowers never emit so sweet and strong a fragrance as before a storm. Beauteous soul! when a storm approaches thee, be as fragrant as a sweet-smelling flower. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763–1825), as quoted in Adam Wooléver, Encyclopædia of Quotations, 1876

Small skill is gained by those who cling to Ease;
The Able Sailor hails from Stormy Seas.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Sailors," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

      Edith. It seems in the deep waters of social life, as in those of the sea, we should not be able to get the beautiful things they contained, if it was not that storms threw them on our shores. We can discern much, as you say, when they are clear, but their greatest treasures are only given up after agitation. The waters must be troubled before they heal.
      Lyulph. I am afraid our waters are as restless as the ocean, so they should at least be always healing. Human progression is a strange thing, such oscillations backwards and forwards, it is often most difficult to see that any advance is made....
      Edith. Antagonism and division seem ruling spirits of our age. We struggle for union and seek the wells of contentment, and find only the waters of strife; but let us have comfort and remember that when the waters are troubled it is only that they may heal. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation XIII: A Rocky Lane in Summer," 1850

Past and to come seems best; things present, worst. ~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, c.1597  [I, 3, Archbishop Scroop]

The man who makes the best of opportunities is apt to get the best of obstacles. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, as reprinted in Poor Richard Jr's Almanack, George Horace Lorimer, editor, 1906

During the darkest indigo midnight, yet will countless stars blossom. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Difficulties need not be disastrous; defeats need not be fatal; failures need not be final. ~William Arthur Ward (1921–1994)

"O, woe is me
T' have seen what I have seen, see what I..."
Eh. Even Shakespeare never got this tragic.
~The Middle, "Bad Choices," 2011, written by Jana Hunter and Mitch Hunter  [S3, E6, Brick]

There were English people, Irish people, Welsh people, and Scotch people there; all with their little store of coarse food and shabby clothes; and nearly all, with their families of children. There were children of all ages; from the baby at the breast, to the slattern-girl who was as much a grown woman as her mother. Every kind of domestic suffering that is bred in poverty, illness, banishment, sorrow, and long travel in bad weather, was crammed into the little space; and yet was there infinitely less of complaint and querulousness, and infinitely more of mutual assistance and general kindness to be found in that unwholesome ark, than in many brilliant ball-rooms. ~Charles Dickens (1812–1870)

Allow yourself a moment of grief when life's misfortunes visit you. However, do not spend your days building a monument in honor of them. ~Dodinsky

Fill our hearts rather with a noble discontent, the discontent that will cause us to move to better things. ~Charles F. Raymond, "A Petition," Just Be Glad, 1907

Trouble will meet you half-way and will gladly accompany you the rest of the distance. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

To-day the heart feels fraught with woe,
And keen-pronged thorns lie in the way,
But as the Spring's breath melts the snow,
E'en so our sorrows go, and gay
And peaceful soars each troubled mind—
Each sombre cloud is silver lined...
~Kimball Chase Tapley, "To-day and To-morrow," 1800s

I don't know how or why it works but the more you want something, the more life will test you. ~Chris Powell, on Extreme Weight Loss, S4, E5, 2014

We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on. ~J.K. Rowling, "A Sluggish Memory," Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2005  [Albus Dumbledore —tg]

Your heart has been sore wounded too. Dear Light, love shall cherish you, till you again look on life with happy eyes. ~Byron Caldwell Smith (1849–1877), letter to Kate Stephens (1853–1938)

I had this dream where I complained to the Lord that my life was not easy. "But did you not pray for happiness?" said the Lord. "Well, yes," I said. And the Lord said, "Well, make up your mind." ~Robert Brault,

Human life is measured by pains and pleasures. Monotony sends us to sleep. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861

Perhaps, it takes a touch of pain, or sorrow or of woe,
To make man truly grateful for his blessings here below!
Perhaps, it takes a few hard knocks to open up his eyes
To facts pertaining to God's laws and make him realize
That while he has his being here, much sorrow he must meet;
And, if he's wise, he'll bravely take the bitter with the sweet!
Perhaps, Twill make him stronger if he overcomes each woe;
Perhaps, Twill make him kinder, and will help his Soul to grow!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham (1880–1971), "Perhaps"

Everything was in ruins. But her soul was still intact. ~Naomi Ragen, The Tenth Song, 2010

No man ever understood the true meaning of life, or caught a glimpse of heaven, until repeated misfortunes had dispelled the flattering dream of a selfish imagination, and cured the blindness of his spiritual nature. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Your enemies are the best reflection of your own character: a strong man rarely has weak foes. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1909, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Strange how we decorate pain. ~Margaret Atwood, "Oh," Morning in the Burned House, 1995

Smile like the rose whose petals are torn asunder—
It says 'I gather beauty even from the thorn of grief.'
~Rumi, translated by Edward Henry Whinfield  [a little altered —tg]

...for even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings... ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight, 1931, translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert, 1932

It is the poor years that make the good ones so very good... ~Edward Payson Powell (1833–1915), "An Old-Time Thanksgiving," 1904

My own life has been much more than a fairy tale. I've had my share of difficult moments, but it's like there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever difficulties I've gone through, I've always gotten a prize at the end. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

The secret of success chiefly lies in the determination to succeed and the resolve that every repulse, every knock-down he receives in the battle, will only nerve him the more. ~Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919)

Misfortunes never come singly because people always multiply them. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The great doctors all got their education off dirt pavements and poverty — not marble floors and foundations. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Do I speak soft and little—
Do I offer you a drop of honey in a bent brown leaf?
Yet I too have been rent by the whirlwind:
I have lain trembling under its bellowings;
I have endured its fangs;
I have heard it hiss and groan, "Bitterness, bitterness!"
But all I have left,
After its searchings and its rendings,
May be told in a soft voice
And is sweet—
Like a drop of thick honey in a bent brown leaf.
~Karle Wilson Baker, "Not in the Whirlwind," c.1921

It's not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line. ~Ashleigh Brilliant, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1989

"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget!"
"You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."
~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1872 are hugging your miseries close to you, and you will not let them go; and there is no other way for them to forsake you. Till you let them go, they cannot go. You are the one who must choose. ~Ursula N. Gestefeld, "The Mastery of Fate," 1899

The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them. ~Bernard Baruch

...and we take everything heartily and naturally in the right way, — for even mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. ~James Russell Lowell

When a man tries to drown troubles on his way home, he always finds them sitting and grinning on his doorstep like drenched cats. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1906, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Each negative experience hardens us a little more to life. Some of us are tough as concrete. But try to leave yourself a few cracks, so that love and flowers can grow through. ~Terri Guillemets

His fortune is shipwrecked... ~Thomas Jefferson, 1786

When suffering comes, we yearn for some sign from God, forgetting we have just had one. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

And these vicissitudes tell best in youth;
For when they happen at a riper age,
People are apt to blame the Fates, forsooth,
And wonder Providence is not more sage.
Adversity is the first path to truth:
He who hath proved war, storm, or woman's rage,
Whether his winters be eighteen or eighty,
Hath won the experience which is deem'd so weighty.
~Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819

Would you touch a nettle without being stung by it? take hold of it stoutly. Do the same to other annoyances, and hardly will any thing annoy you. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Nothing grieves me more than when good character is locked up fast in the hardships of life. ~Menander (c.342–c.292 BCE), translated by Francis G. Allinson, 1921

I cursed my misfortune, — and it remained one. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

Pain gives you the memory of things you shouldn't do. ~Craig D. Slovak

There are tragedies in life that change us forever, the person we once were mistakenly listed among the survivors. ~Robert Brault,

Some days, we're just looking for a soft place to land. ~Dr. SunWolf,

We paint our lives with passion and peace, with love and laughter — to cover the pain and scars, the bitterness and tears. ~Terri Guillemets, "War paint," 2009

I do not ask you to help me, but I would appreciate it if you did not hinder me. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

Many a man can overcome a difficulty in the path of another, which he could not surmount were it in his own. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Can one deal with realities that are not shaken with sobs and wet with tears? ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: VIII," A Soul's Faring, 1921

Adversity enhances this tale we call life. ~Terri Guillemets, "Live, laugh, & cry," 2005

Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth, c.1605  [I, 3, Macbeth]

Like a plant that starts up in showers and sunshine and does not know which has best helped it to grow, it is difficult to say whether the hard things or the pleasant things did me most good. ~Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood, 1889

And I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind...
So I said to myself, "Now, I'll just have to start
To be twice as careful and be twice as smart.
I'll watch out for trouble in front and back sections
By aiming my eyeballs in different directions."
...Then NEW troubles came!
From above!
And below!... I had so many troubles, I just couldn't think!...
~Dr. Seuss, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, 1965

I know I'll have troubles.
I'll, maybe, get stung.
I'll always have troubles.
I'll, maybe, get bit...
But I've bought a big bat.
I'm all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!
~Dr. Seuss, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, 1965

Life leaves its bootprints all over us — we just have to keep getting back up. ~Terri Guillemets

In most cases, misfortune is an acquired habit. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Bygone troubles are good to tell. ~Yiddish proverb

Even when life isn't good on the outside, you have an option to make it good from the inside out. ~Terri Guillemets

This was freedom. Losing all hope was freedom. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1996

"It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything." ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1996

The cold is a good counsellor, but it is cold. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

Eddie fell from grace with a thump. The town laughed at him, as people always laugh when a person — particularly so plump a person as Eddie was — falls hard on the slippery sidewalk of this icy world. ~Rupert Hughes, "Don't You Care!," In a Little Town, 1917

Soul connections are often formed through the currents of adversity. ~Terri Guillemets

In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. ~Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1893  [Dumby —tg]

Sir: there are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it. ~Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy, 1903  [Mendoza —tg]

Alas, my Lord God, how small matters trouble me! every petty occurrence is ready to rob me of my peace; so as, methinks, I am like some little cock-boat in a rough sea, which every billow topples up and down, and threats to sink.... Lord, work my heart to so firm a settledness upon thee, that it may never be shaken; no, not with the violent gusts of temptation, much less with the easy gales of secular mis-accidents. Even when I am hardest pressed in the multitude of the sorrows of my heart, let thy comforts refresh my soul: but for these slight crosses, oh teach me to despise them; as not worthy of my notice, much less of my vexation. Let my heart be taken up with thee; and then, what care I, whether the world smile or frown? ~Joseph Hall (1574–1656), Bishop of Norwich, The Breathings of the Devout Soul (XXXIV), 1644

Difficulties are footholds toward maturity. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity,
For wise men say it is the wisest course.
~William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III, c.1590  [III, 1, Henry VI]

Life is rough. If it were smooth, we'd slide right through it without noticing. A bumpy ride teaches us gratitude and perspective. ~Terri Guillemets

There are blessings to this cursèd time that we're in. It's a clarifying time. ~Joe Scarborough, Morning Joe, 2017 August 30th

Sometimes, even as an optimist, you can have so much tragedy in your life that it gets really annoying. ~Robert Brault,

O God, whate'er befall, spare me that supreme calamity — let no after-bitterness settle down with me. Misfortune is not mine until that hour. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

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Last saved 2024 Apr 15 Mon 17:39 CDT