15 Inspirational Quotes for Tough Times

Pandemic life is tough. Add on inequality, unemployment, and the steady erosion of a lifetime of saving it’s difficult. Now add on the ordinary difficulties of life: chronic illnesses, family stresses, and home and vehicle maintenance—it’s a lot. Anxiety is high. High enough that sometimes innocent words blow up into something else. But mankind has been through a lot. You’ll get through this, too. Here are some inspirational quotes for tough times to remind you that you can do this.

Stacked stones in a bamboo forest and these inspirational quotes for tough times to remind you how tough you are

On Being Tough

Tough times never last, but tough people do.

– Robert Schuller

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


In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.

– Lee Iacocca

On Ways to Think

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. 

– Marcus Aurelius

You don’t have to control your thoughts; you just have to stop letting them control you.

 – Dan Millman

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

–Mary Engelbreit

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.

― Andrew Murphy

On Coping

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.

Jacques Prevert

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness

–Maya Angelou

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.

–Louisa May Alcott

There comes a certain point in life when you have to stop blaming other people for how you feel or the misfortunes in your life. You can’t go through life obsessing about what might have been.

–Hugh Jackman

Everyone of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.

–Princess Diana

On Hope

a pink lotus flower in water reflecting the blue sky and white clouds above and these inspirational quotes for tough times to remind you how tough you are

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. 

– Thich Nhat Hanh

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.

–Martin Luther King

Tough Times

You are tough. When you feel you’ve reached your breaking point, remember how tough you are. 

So far you’ve survived 100% of your worst days. You’re doing great


Use the amazing tools we have today: Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Calls , text messages, and phone calls. Have a driveway or backyard socially distanced and mask wearing get together. See how creative you can be in helping friends and family maintain social distancing. And if you can’t do all those things, stop and make sure you are taking care of yourself. And maybe think about these inspirational quotes for tough times.

Do You Support the Reality of Freedom?

I spoke a little about the symbols of freedom a few weeks ago in my post, What’s Your Symbol of Freedom. I’m not advocating that we all see the symbols of freedom in the same way. And yet, the symbols stand for ideas or ideals that we supposedly believe and support. But do you support the idea of freedom? Do you support the reality of freedom? Here are a few quotes that speak to the ideas of freedom that I support. 

illustration of people of different colors holding hands around the globe--what I hope will be the reality of freedom

What Is Freedom

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines freedom as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” It’s both more and less.

Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.

Mortimer Adler

Freedom is not the right to live as we please, but the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

True freedom is always spiritual. It has something to do with your innermost being, which cannot be chained, handcuffed, or put into a jail.


For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Nelson Mandela

Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.

Simone Weil
image of statue's chained hand--the reality of freedom for some is that freedom isn't real

What choices is Simone Weil talking about? If you must hide from an oppressor or if you must wear certain clothes or say (not say) certain things to avoid arrest, are you free? If you are struggling to keep a roof over your head or to put food on the table or if you can’t afford transportation to a job, or can’t afford education, are you free? What about if your skin color is different so you can’t vote or get a job or are treated as less equal, are you free? Those aren’t choices people make. No one chooses to fear for their life. No one chooses to be unable to meet their own needs. Am I saying we should give people everything for free? No. 

At What Cost Freedom

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Ronald Reagan

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.

William Faulkner

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and will never be.

Thomas Jefferson

The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.

Adlai Stevenson

Don’t be ignorant about the lack of choices that others have. Educate yourself. Figure out what you can do to help those others have those choices. Raise your voice. Lend a hand (Habitat for Humanity). Raise money. Give a damn. If you support the reality of freedom, then you know that the cost of freedom is to fight for it every day. So step out of your complacencies and do what you can. 

Why Talk About Freedom

Image of protestors being sprayed by police--the reality of freedom for some isn't really free

The whole world seems to live under the banner: “Freedom is wonderful—but only for me.”

Isaac Asimov

If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky has the right idea. But I would say if we don’t believe in freedom for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. Many people in the U.S.A and in other nations around the world have forgotten that freedom isn’t exclusive. We’ve forgotten that life, the world, isn’t a sound bite. That because you or I have freedom, others within our own nation do not. We have forgotten that if we believe in the reality of freedom people who espouse different ideas, who worship differently, who speak or dress differently—all deserve freedom.

The reality of freedom is that it is not equal. That we must fight every day to make it as equal as possible. For if we don’t believe, if we don’t support the reality of freedom for all, we don’t believe in it at all. 

What You Should Know About Creativity

What should you know about creativity? You know you can “Undo the Brainwashing,” that there are more than “3 Ways You Can Be More Creative,” and it’s possible to find “creativity in a time of chaos.” There’s much, much more to learn. Here are a few more inspirational thoughts.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. William Plomer

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas. Donatella Versace

 “Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” -Edward de Bono

Creativity is intelligence having fun. Albert Einstein

In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out. Austin Kleon

Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature. Eric Hoffer

Creativity is based on the belief that there’s no particular virtue in doing things they way they’ve always been done. Rudolph Flesch

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. Bill Moyers

Who Can Be Creative?

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin

In order to create you have to believe in your ability to do so and that often means excluding whole chunks of normal life, and, of course, pumping yourself up as much as possible as a way of keeping on. Sort of cheering for yourself in the great football stadium of life. T.C. Boyle

What You Should Know About Creativity

“The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.” — Pablo Picasso

Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together. Vincent Van Gogh

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Brené Brown

Create with the heart; build with the mind. Criss Jami

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion. Jack Kerouac

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou

Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics. Victor Pinchuk

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. Albert Einstein

Do you have a favorite what you should know about creativity quote? Please, share it below. Or, share your own thoughts. What do you think everyone should know about creativity?

When You Want to Surrender

Does all the awful things that people are doing to people make you want to give up? Or have events in your personal life beat you up? Are you discouraged? Is it too much to bear and you’re ready to give up? When you want to surrender, don’t.

All way stop sign

Stop. Breathe. Give yourself permission to rest but don’t give up, deserve your dream.

Don’t Give up

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out.

Christopher Reeve

Don’t Wait

If you’ve fallen off course, you need to get back on the job. Do the work.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Mark Twain

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Walt Disney

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

George Herbert

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London

You have the Power

The decision to move forward is yours. 

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.

Victor Kiam

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

Oprah Winfrey

The most effective way to do it, is to do it.

Amelia Earhart

The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.


Re-awaken Your Dream

Revisit the reason why you wanted to do this. Remember your dream. Your goal at this stage may have been derailed, but that’s temporary. If this road’s closed, find another one.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Napoleon Hill

When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.

Elon Musk

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.

John Dewey
A determined idea, like a sprout, will find a way to grow

Change Your Mindset

When you’re feeling defeated, take a breather. Nap. Get some fresh air. Eat a good, solid meal. Find inspiration in reading, art, music, in meditation, or in retail therapy.

Find the crack in that wall of defeat and flower. Determine the detour you need to take. Pivot. Learn what you need to know and charge ahead.

They can conquer who believe they can.


The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.

Mark Caine

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Zig Ziglar

Deserve your dream.

Octavio Paz

It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s hard to keep going. But, your dream is a worthy dream. When you want to surrender, don’t. Push through. You can do it. Deserve your dream. 

Take Your First Intentional Step

Did you make resolutions this year? Or, after reading that so many resolutions go unfulfilled, did you not make any resolutions? Perhaps, there’s a different way to think about it. A way to take an intentional step toward a goal or desire.

Creative Intentions

Perhaps, instead of resolutions you set Intentions. Thanks to Orna Ross for that term. (See Orna’s explanation of Creative Intentions.) Her Creative Intentions are directed toward people striving toward creative endeavors but I believe anyone can use intentions instead of resolutions.

Intentions are positive and nonjudgmental. If you say it is my intention to lose twenty pounds. The goal is there but you’re also recognizing that it’s a process. There will be times of forward progress, slow progress, and perhaps no progress and backward progress. But if it’s your intention to do something and you have no progress, you have not failed. It’s still your intention. Perhaps you need to re-think the steps it takes to get there.

Stretch for High Goals

Setting your goals high doesn’t mean aim for the impossible. It means stretch yourself. And keep stretching yourself and you will reach farther than you thought you could reach.

At Your Speed

Life, especially creative life, is not a race. As Confucius says, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” In other words, your steps can be slow with long rests between each step. It does not matter how slowly you go.

Comparing yourself or your progress to anyone else is comparing apples to hedgehogs.

Look in the mirror. Unless you’re an identical twin, no one else looks like you. No one has lived your life except you. Your path is unique to you. You know things, unique to you. Value your unique path by putting your foot forward each and every inch of the way.

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.

-Alan Watts

Don’t fight it. Don’t weigh yourself down with judgment.

Have trouble sticking to resolutions? Try following Orna’s Creative Intentions path. Write your intentions down. Share your intentions below. I’d love to hear them.

Take your first intentional step into the new year. You can do it. I know you can.