Purpose//

15 Inspiring Quotes That Give Us Strength In Difficult Times

Leaning on the words that instill us with resilience can help us approach each new day with hope and possibility.

Dragana Gordic/ Shutterstock
Dragana Gordic/ Shutterstock

We were recently inspired by this line from a Mary Oliver poem, shared by best-selling author Gabby Bernstein: “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.” After a year filled with hardship and uncertainty, embracing daily delights is a courageous, essential act; it can help us face challenges with tenacity, and approach each new day with hope and possibility. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the quotes that instill them with resilience and strength during difficult times. Which of these resonates with you?

“Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space is your power and your freedom.” 

“Viktor Frankl wrote this line in Man’s Search For Meaning, which I read in high school. Decades later, this quote has become an old friend to me, taking on different meanings in the different seasons of my life as a career woman, a wife, and a full-time mom of four teenager. Now, I live in that space which I embrace as my sacred pause — my superpower to keep me grounded and clear.”

—Renee Tarantowski Baude, freelancer, Chicagoland, IL

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

“My favorite quote is from Seneca. When I was in high school, I taped this line to my bedroom door because I felt that I wanted to adopt it as a philosophy for life. As I’ve grown and become an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that being in action is the key to success.”

—Isabelle Bart, social entrepreneur and coach, Orange County, CA 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

“Every time I read this Maya Angelou quote, I feel it in my bones and it instantly allows my heart to release tension. It has inspired me more times than I can count. I keep it where I can see it in my workspace when I need a lift and clarity, which during the pandemic is on the daily.”

—Shea Ki, holistic interview coach, Ashburn, VA

“Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”

“This quote sums up a lesson I learned when I lost my dad when I was 15 years old and he was only 51. I was also reminded of this lesson within the first month of 2021, when I lost my aunt to Alzheimer’s and lost friend to Covid following a bout with Lymphoma. And now, a cherished friend’s cancer has spread. Whether the transition comes at 94, 51, or 23, it’s important to learn as soon as possible to live your life and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.”

—Mary Kolar-DeNunzio, non-profit professional, Shaker Heights, OH

“When your purpose is greater than yourself, it’ll give you courage you never knew you had.” 

“I heard this quote from Sara Blakely at a webinar over the summer, and I immediately wrote it down because it resonated with me so much. There are plenty of moments when the chips are down in our professional and personal lives. It’s easy to feel like difficult times will never end, but that is not the case. When you consider your purpose, you are refilled with courage and confidence. This allows you to make significant strides forward and to keep thinking about the opportunities ahead.”

—Heather Taylor, communications coordinator, Calabasas, CA

“Be yourself. You’re the only one who can be.” 

“When we’re constantly scrolling through our social media accounts and comparing ourselves to what others are doing and saying, it’s important to apply a little self-care and know you’re doing your best. This quote reminds me to embrace myself with a hug when I’m feeling down.”

—Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, New York, NY

“I’m not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” 

“This line has stuck with me since I first heard it. I have gone through countless things in my life that could have broken me, but I’ve chosen to succeed instead. This Carl Gustav Young quote reminds me that happiness is a choice, gratitude is a choice, and success is a choice. I’m proud to say that my own courage, strength, and hard work have brought me to where I am today.”

—Leah L., strategy consultant firm owner, MA

“You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it.”

“This Albert Einstein quote has been such a problem-solver for me. When you focus on the solution instead of the problem, it shifts and lifts the psyche to ascend and transcend the situation. Allowing others to be heard without judgement is far better than trying to get your point across without hearing the other person’s point of view.”

—M.J, licensed mental health counselor, FL

“Nothing unexpected and wonderful is going to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”

“Anthony Bourdain said this quote, and it sums up my perspective on travel and on life. It reminds me to make room for spontaneity. Life is boring without it!”

—Lori Sussle Bonanni, founder and communications consultant, Rochester, NY

“When it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

“The quote that always helps me stay resilient is a quote by Chinese philosopher, Confucius. It served me at a difficult point in my life where I had to make a tough decision. It also serves me today as a reminder to not give up on my goals when things get tough. Instead, it reminds me to reevaluate what can be done to get there and possibly course-correct.”

—Cecilia Grey, content creator and podcast host, Santa Barbara, CA

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.” 

“When life seems unfair, I find it is generally because I am doing the same things and expecting different results, resulting in frustration at the lack of desired outcome. This Courtney Stevens quote reminds me that I am in control of my life and that if I want to change a situation, I need to make a change to the process.”

—Rachel Bradbury, peer support worker, Bradford, U.K.

“It is always impossible, until it’s done.” 

“Being an African American female has been full of challenges, adversities, and rewards. This Nelson Mandela quote reminds me that rewards are only obtained when pushing through the impossible, knowing that pioneering through adversity clears the way for others. I use this quote often to motivate teams and clients who want to give up because it hasn’t been done, successfully. There is always the first.”

—Akilah Darden, president of The Darden Group, LLC, Indianapolis, IN 

“Failure is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are alive and growing.” 

“This Buzz Aldrin quote is an energizing reminder that when we fail, we fail forward, and that growth is a good thing. It encourages me to embrace my failures and learn from each and every one of them so I can become my best self. It always brings me a sense of resilience when I need it.”

—Olivia Bowser, founder of Liberate, Los Angeles, CA

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’”

“I have this Audrey Hepburn quote written on a sticky note on my desk and often say it to myself when I’m feeling stuck or when I’m procrastinating. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, our minds can convince us that there is no way forward, but I’ve found that displaying motivating quotes such as this one really helps to change my mindset in the moment.”

—Louise Dockery,  resilience coach and mentor, U.K.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lines within us.”

“I love this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote because it reminds me that It’s so easy to get caught up in time. We get stuck in the joy or frustration of the past, and in the anticipation of the future. We spend so much energy focusing on our outward environment, especially in these pandemic times, that it can be easy to forget what we have inside. This quote is a reminder to me that ultimately, I decide how to respond to the present moment and what is around me. And that power is important, particularly in the face of uncertainty.”

—Henna Garrison, mindset coach, Sicily, Italy 

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