Quotations about   adversity

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To cut out every negative root would simultaneously mean choking off positive elements that might arise from it further up the stem of the plant. We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 6 “Consolation for Difficulties” (2000)
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Discussing Nietzsche.
Added on 7-Jun-18 | Last updated 7-Jun-18
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He sendeth sun, he sendeth shower,
Alike they’re needful to the flower;
And joys and tears alike are sent
To give the soul fit nourishment.
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father! thy will, not mine, be done.

Sarah Fuller Adams (1805-1848) English poet (nee Flower)
“He sendeth Sun, he sendeth Shower”
Added on 29-Sep-16 | Last updated 29-Sep-16
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If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (b. 1946) American politician, US President (1993-2001)
Speech to students during the 1992 US Presidential campaign
Added on 2-Jun-16 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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The way to bliss lies not on beds of down,
And he that has no cross deserves no crown.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Esther, Sec. 9, Meditation 9 (1621)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.

Colton - brightest thunderbolt - wist_info quote

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, # 28 (1821 ed.)
Added on 10-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable.

Patrick - pain makes man think - wist_info quote

John Patrick (1905-1995) American playwright and screenwriter
The Teahouse of the August Moon, Act 1, sc. 1 (1957)
Added on 9-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Pain nourishes my courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.

Moore - cant be brave - wist_info quote

Mary Tyler Moore (b. 1936) American actress
Interview, McCall’s, Vol. 108 (1980)
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Added on 23-Feb-16 | Last updated 23-Feb-16
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You learn to know a pilot in a storm.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Providence” (4.5) [tr. Basore (1928)]
Added on 28-Sep-15 | Last updated 28-Sep-15
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Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 22 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
Added on 30-Jul-15 | Last updated 30-Jul-15
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We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 [CEB]

Alt. trans:
  • "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." [NRSV]
  • "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." [KJV]
  • "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." [NIV]
  • "We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed." [GNT]
Added on 7-Apr-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-15
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A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
The Simplest Way to be Happy (1933)
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Added on 23-Mar-15 | Last updated 23-Mar-15
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Complete success alienates a man from his fellows, but suffering makes kinsmen of us all.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
An American Bible [ed. Alice Hubbard] (1918)
Added on 9-Dec-14 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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With Stupidity and sound Digestion man may front much.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
Sartor Resartus, 2.7 (1835)
Added on 4-Dec-14 | Last updated 4-Dec-14
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If Afflictions refine some, they consume others.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2666 (1732)
Added on 18-Nov-14 | Last updated 18-Nov-14
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One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet.
“‘Tis the Set of the Sail” (1916)
Added on 12-Nov-14 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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When we are strong, we are always much greater than the things that happen to us.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
No Man Is an Island, 7.7 (1955)
Added on 21-Oct-14 | Last updated 21-Oct-14
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We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1963) German poet
Letters to a Young Poet, Letter 8, 12 Aug 1904 (1929)
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Added on 20-Oct-14 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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We take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Studies in Pessimism: The Vanity of Existence,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 16-Sep-14
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Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 1 (1599)
Added on 20-May-13 | Last updated 26-May-16
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He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) English playwright and poet
Timber: Or, Discoveries, “Explorata” (1640)
Added on 22-Apr-13 | Last updated 21-Oct-14
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Mr. Bettenham said that virtuous men were like some herbs and spices, that give not out their sweet smell till they be broken or crushed.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Apothegms (1625)
Added on 25-Feb-13 | Last updated 16-May-16
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Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Adversity,” Essays, No. 5 (1625)
Added on 11-Feb-13 | Last updated 16-May-16
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The virtue of Prosperity is temperance; the virtue of Adversity is fortitude.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Adversity,” Essays, No. 5 (1625)
Added on 4-Feb-13 | Last updated 16-May-16
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No pain, no palm;
No thorns, no throne;
No gall, no glory;
No cross, no crown.

William Penn (1644-1718) English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, statesman
“No Cross, No Crown” (1682)

Originally written while a prisoner in the Tower of London (1668-69). See Quarles (1821).
Added on 22-May-12 | Last updated 24-May-16
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By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 39, epigraph (1897)
Added on 27-May-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Look at a man in the midst of doubt and danger, and you will lean in his hour of adversity what he really is. It is then that true utterances are wrung from the recesses of his breast. The mask is torn off; the reality remains.

Lucretius (c. 100-c. 55 BC) Roman poet [Titus Luretius Carus]
De Rerum Natura [On the Nature of Things], I. 55 [tr. Latham (1951)]
Added on 20-May-08 | Last updated 28-Jul-14
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Fellowship in woe doth woe assuage.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
“The Rape of Lucrece,” l. 790 (1594)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 26-May-16
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The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as in playing a poor hand well.

Other Authors and Sources
H. T. Leslie
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Apr-14
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