The intention of these adversity quotes is to encourage you to open your heart and your mind to the gifts and opportunities granted only through hardship. I can personally attest to the beauty that has entered my life that may not have entered if not for the troubling darkness placed before me. My hope is that you, too, can embrace your power to change, even if it’s not what you had in mind.
“Use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it.” — Maya Angelou
I start this little collection of adversity quotes off with the above sentiment because anger tends to be one of those uncomfortable side-effects of hardship.
But, just because something is uncomfortable, unwanted, or even irritating, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be experiencing it, or that it can’t help us.
Every emotion has its place and message—anger can grant insight into a greater struggle. Perhaps it’s like author Liz Palmer says: “Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” This is one example of how we can wear layers, some we don’t realize are there and which we only realize are there when we commit to exploring our internal environment.
If we stay and listen to what’s showing up for us, we’ll likely hear answers to the questions that have been nagging at us, and maybe we’ll uproot answers to the questions we didn’t even know we had.Busyness is a great way to avoid the real hard and heart work of identifying how we can better help ourselves. tweet this
Adversity is a sign that you’re struggling with something, naturally, but how often do you actually get still enough to sift through the layers of frustration until you get to the core of why you’re struggling? Are you being too hard on yourself? Have you been avoiding something that’s awaiting resolution? Are you using the techniques you know can help you through this time?
It’s hard to control the weather, but what we can do is learn to control how we approach and respond to it.
Below I share seven of my favorite adversity quotes and some personal thoughts on the matter of that particular quote. My notes aren’t all-encompassing, to be sure, but just what came to mind and heart when I read the quote.
I believe in the positive power of surrounding ourselves with uplifting reminders of our own capacity, and the knowledge that we are all connected in the struggles of being a human.
7 Adversity Quotes to Encourage Meaningful Transformation
1. “Although adversity that is not overcome can create a story of depressing bleakness, substantial adversity might be necessary for a meaningful story.” — Jonathan Haidt
This quote is from the book The Happiness Hypothesis, which is actually what inspired this collection. In reading this book, I was introduced to some gifts of suffering that I never before considered or properly fleshed out. By making sense of tragedy and putting the pieces back together in a way that feels more cohesive than ever before, we can tell a story of post-traumatic growth.
2. “Sweet are the uses of adversity, / Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, / Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” — Shakespeare
If you were to ask me if I wanted to experience the suffering that comes with tragedy, I would not be quick to sign up. I wonder, though, if I would ever be here writing in a way that allowed so much light to come through. I find so much joy, and get to bring so much joy to what I do now, and it is only because a seed was planted in the dark soil of adversity.Sitting in the darkness, I realized that I was being brought closer to a true understanding of the light. tweet this
3. “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” — James Lane Allen
This quote reminds me that a challenging moment or season might have something to reveal that is ready to be shown. If I’m ready and willing to see it, I might even be revealed to myself.
4. “Suffering often makes people more compassionate, helping them find balance between self and others.” — Jonathan Haidt
Here’s another from The Happiness Hypothesis, detailing one of the gifts of suffering: the ability to access shared empathy and engage compassionately with others. When we realize that no one is an island, that we’re connected in ways we could never plan to be if left to our own preferences, life’s mystery becomes worthy of at least a little bit of awe.
5. “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” — Rumi
How could we understand the deeper beauty, power, and potential of who we are if we were never prompted to go inward? Self-transformation hurts but what hurts, I’ve found, is not necessarily a punishment more than it is an opportunity to know yourself better.Hardship is part of the divine unfolding of our innate power. tweet this
6. “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.” — J.K. Rowling
7. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” — Maya Angelou
This sentiment brings to mind the words “resilience” and “intentional.” It is certainly a challenge to be the sky and not the storm clouds, but I’ve been presented with enough evidence of people rising above adversity and allowing themselves to be strengthened or deepened by it to know that it’s not an impossible feat. If anything, it’s a worthwhile one to consider.
What’s one bout of adversity you’ve survived, coming out the other side a stronger, wiser, better version of yourself?
Share your favorite adversity quote, what practices get you through tough times, and any stories of rising above with me in the comments.
Encourage a friend by sharing these adversity quotes with them.
It’s simply amazing what you’re capable of surviving.