Adversity Quotes

I can’t believe that I have never thought to do a page on adversity before.

It’s such a pertinent subject.  You will find that as you read these, they are just as insightful and inspiring as if you had just read quotations on success.

There are 65 adversity quotes here, so grab a drink and get ready.

1. No man is more unhappy than the one who is never in adversity; the greatest affliction of life is never to be afflicted. -unknown

2. A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner. -English Proverb

3. Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They’re what make the instrument stretch, what make you go beyond the norm. -Cicely Tyson

4. A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind. -John Neal

5. Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records. -William A. Ward

6. Dust is protective coating for fine furniture. -Mario Burata

7. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed…. Great necessities call out great virtues. -Abigail Adams (1744-1818)

8. Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to  them? -Rose F. Kennedy

9. Often God has to shut a door in our face, so that He can subsequently open the door through which He wants us to go. -Catherine Marshall

10. Every hardship, every joy; every temptation is a challenge of the spirit; that the human soul may prove itself. The great chain of necessity wherewith we are bound has divine significance; and nothing happens which has not some service in working out the sublime destiny of the human soul. -Elias A. Ford

11. Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. -Henry Kissinger

12. He who knows no hardships will know no hardihood. He who faces no calamity will need no courage. Mysterious though it is, the characteristics in human nature which we love best grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles. -Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969)

13. Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead. -Les Brown

14. Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. -Leroy Satchel Paige (1906-1982)

15. Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise. -Henry Ward Beecher

16. Emergencies have always been necessary to progress. It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to teach us the real value of a job. -Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

17. You have endured worse things; God will grant an end to these. -Virgil

18. All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today. -Ralph Ransom

19. When walking through the ‘valley of shadows’, remember, a shadow is cast by a light. -H.K Barclay

20. You may live in an imperfect world but the frontiers are not closed and the doors are not all shut. -Maxwell Maltz

21. There is in every 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. -Washington Irving (1783-1859)

22. Misfortunes leave wounds which bleed drop by drop even in sleep; thus little by little they train man by force and dispose him to wisdom in spite of himself. -Simone Weil (1910-1943)

23. When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars. -Lee Salk

24. The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character. -Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

25. We need tough days to drive us to our knees. -Anonymous

26. We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things. -Henry Ward Beecher

27. We must free ourselves from the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds. -Hanmer Parsons Grant

28. Tough times never last, but tough people do. -Robert Schuller

29. Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly. -Plutarch

30. Find the grain of truth in criticism–chew it and swallow it. -Don Sutton

31. Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer. -Soren Kierkegaard

32. One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity. -Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

33. To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete. -Epictetus (50-138)

34. There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. -Og Mandino

35. One often learns more from ten days of agony than from ten years of contentment. -Merle Shain

36. The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity. -Seneca

37. Stumbling is not falling. -Portuguese Proverb

38. Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful. -Zig Ziglar

39. Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity. -Lou Holtz

40. The greatest difficulties lie where we are not looking for them. -Goethe

41. The difference between the stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them. -Anonymous

42. The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is. -Charles Schwab

43. Never complain about your troubles; they are responsible for more than half of your income. -Robert R. Updegraff

44. We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them. -William A. Ward

45. The worst thing that happens to you may be the best thing for you if you don’t let it get the best of you. -Will Rogers

46. Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or by the handle. -James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

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

48. Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together. -Anonymous

49. Difficulties, opposition, criticism-these things are meant to be overcome, and there is a special joy in facing them and in coming out on top. It is only when there is nothing but praise that life loses its charm and I begin to wonder what I should do about it. -Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990)

50. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. -Gilbert Chesterton

51. A man is insensible to the relish of prosperity until he has tasted adversity. -Saadi

52. God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity still in the cloud, the oil still in the earth. How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven. -George MacDonald (1824-1905)

53. The good things that belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired. -Marcus Annaeus Seneca (BC3-65AD)

54. Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul? -John Keats (1795-1821)

55. Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it. -Anonymous

56. It’s a matter of ABC: When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don’t even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don’t just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES. The beliefs are the direct cause of what we feel and what we do next. They can spell the difference between dejection and giving up, on the one hand, and well-being and constructive action on the other. The first step is to see the connection between adversity, belief, and consequence. The second step is to see how the ABCs operate every day in your own life. -Martin E. P. Seligman

57. As iron put into the fire loseth its rust and becometh clearly red-hot, so he that wholly turneth himself unto God puts off all slothfulness, and is transformed into a new man. -Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471)

58. Tis easy enough to be pleasant, when life flows along like a song; But the man worth while is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong. -Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1855-1919)

59. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour. -Mary Kay Ash

60. Much unhappiness results from our inability to remember the nice things that happen to us. -W.N. Rieger

61. There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity…when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it. -Unknown

62. Trials, temptations, disappointments — all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of character but strengthen it. Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before. -James Buckham

63. It is often better to have a great deal of harm happen to one than a little; a great deal may rouse you to remove what a little will only accustom you to endure. -Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953)

64. A small trouble is like a pebble. Hold it too close to your eye and it fills the whole world and puts everything out of focus. Hold it at a proper distance and it can be examined and properly classified. Throw it at your feet and it can be seen in its true setting, just one more tiny bump on the pathway of life. -Celia Luce

65. You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity. -Walt Schmidt

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What do you think of these?  Which ones are your favorites?  Please leave a comment in the section below.

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    • Karen
    • July 8, 2009

    I love all of these! But #18 is one of my favorites!

      • MS KAY
      • February 19, 2011

      Lovin the quotes, especially the Adversity Quotes — I use these quotes from time to time to pass on to relatives and associates who need something positive to think about and help them to put the negativity behind them — sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but for me, everyone I read always brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart!

        • Kate Atkinson
        • March 28, 2011

        Well, said. Here is one of my favorites
        Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.

    • Crystal
    • July 8, 2009

    As usual, it’s impossible to pick just one – at least for me!
    39, 41, 45 and 48 – all made me think of how fortunate I was to be laid off from my “just a job.” I decided to start my own business which is the best thing that’s happened to me; it has redirected my life and goals in a direction that is positive and has given me the opportunity to love what I do! That being said, I guess I must include #47 also: Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which is prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. -Horace

    (Except there’s a typo in that one – I believe it should read, “…which IN prosperous circumstances….” – what can I say? I’m a proofreader!! 🙂

  1. Reply

    I LOVE quotes. I found you for the first time yesterday and am now following you on Twitter. Already I’ve been blessed by your input. I’m planning to add a quote page to my website in the future. Your’s is very encouraging. Thanks.

    • July 8, 2009


  2. Reply

    I hope you’ll get a little “tweet this” button soon. I’d love to retweet really easily. It’s all about me, doncha know. 🙂

    • bj
    • July 8, 2009

    These Quotes are awsome!! Keep them coming.

  3. Reply

    You lost your job?? So this gives you the time to get your proofreading business ramped up! How’s that going anyway?

    BTW, I actually wrote about you last night. I created a new page here on the blog to showcase/write about the sites of my friends and subscribers to the thought of the day.

    Go to the top of this page or any page, look to the right under “Pages”, you will see a link that says “Subscriber Sites”.

    Thanks for the typo help. 🙂


  4. Reply

    Thanks for your comments. I will look for a “Tweet This” plugin sometime soon. Thanks for the idea.


    • junie
    • August 25, 2009

    going thru some trying times…loved number 23…is so very true…but sometimes we fail to look up

    • Cody
    • November 12, 2009

    I am currently finishing my last semester at LSU and applying to medical school. I found this site about a week ago, right when reports, exams, and application deadlines were being piled on by the ton. I just want to thank the creator. Some of these quotes have been just the fuel I was looking for to get me through the hours and hours of work. My favorite of this particular section is “The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is.” – Charles Schwab. Thanks again to the creator.

    • joseph
    • December 20, 2009

    #31 is actually a Soren Kierkegaard quote.

    • shawn
    • December 23, 2009

    Thanks Joseph. I looked it up and you’re right. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Manjit Tendolkar
    • February 22, 2010

    Thank You. I failed in my Final Year MBBS exam. All my friends have become doctors, and i m here contemplating about life, and i am sure it counts.
    .-= Manjit Tendolkar´s last blog ..The Big Deal of Failing In Final Year MBBS =-.

    • Carolyn
    • June 12, 2010

    #32 Trouble shared is trouble halved.

    • doreen
    • July 14, 2010

    shawn i just discovered your quotes. Thanks for the great work

    • Laurie
    • September 21, 2010

    All of these are winners. I really liked 50. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. -Gilbert Chesterton

    • Amulya Kumar Mishra
    • February 22, 2011


    • Karen
    • September 22, 2011

    All of them are very inspiring although since we have to choose, my most favorite is #5.

    • YAMUNA
    • November 8, 2011

    Thank you so much sir.I like all the Adversity Quotes.thank you for the great job.

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