43 Empowering Resilience & Adversity Quotes to Inspire You

Resilience QuotesInsightful quotes on resilience can inspire and motivate you to dig deeper and find your more resilient self while encouraging you to explore the vast literature on this exciting topic.

Here is a list of 43 quotes drawn from a broad and in-depth literature review of research studies and review papers that examine the fascinating and valuable concept of resilience.

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Introducing Resilience

We begin with quotes from psychiatrist Michael Rutter, sometimes described as the father of child psychology, to introduce you to the concept of resilience. Rutter is one of the seminal figures in recognizing the importance of resilience to wellbeing and has inspired a great deal of the research that followed.

Rutter Resilience Bounce Back Quote

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from life’s challenges and unforeseen difficulties, providing mental protection from emotional and mental disorders.

Michael Rutter (1985)

Rutter Resilience Better Outcome Quote

Resilience is an inference based on evidence that some individuals have a better outcome than others who have experienced a comparable level of adversity.

Michael Rutter (2012)

Rutter Resilience Body Cope Quote

Resilience results from having the encounter at a time, and in a way, that the body can cope successfully with the noxious challenge to its system.

Michael Rutter (1993)

Rutter Resilience Reduced Vulnerability Quote

[R]esilience can be defined as reduced vulnerability to environmental risk experiences, the overcoming of a stress or adversity, or a relatively good outcome despite risk experiences.

Michael Rutter (2012)

Rutter Resilience Dynamic Concept Quote

Resilience is a dynamic concept in which successful coping may involve a complicated mixture of psychological habituation, changes in mental set, alterations in perceived and actual self-efficacy, hormonal changes … and neural alterations.

Michael Rutter (2012)

Rutter Resilience Judged Quote

[R]esilience needs to be judged, not in terms of superior overall functioning as judged in relation to the population as a whole, but rather in terms of functioning that is relatively better than that shown by others experiencing the same level of adversity.

Michael Rutter (2012)

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What Is Resilience?

The following quotes provide an insight into what resilience is and the human ability to withstand pressure and overcome difficulty.

Fletcher and Sarkar Resilience Personal Qualities Quote

[P]sychological resilience refers to the ability to use personal qualities to withstand pressure.

David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar (2016)

Robertson and Colleagues Quote

[R]esilience represents a constellation of characteristics that protect individuals from the potential negative effect of stressors.

Ivan Robertson et al. (2015)

Herrman and Colleagues Quote

Definitions have evolved over time but fundamentally resilience is understood as referring to positive adaptation, or the ability to maintain or regain mental health, despite experiencing adversity.

Helen Herrman et al. (2011)

Egeland and Colleagues Quote

Resilience has been described as the capacity for positive outcomes despite challenging or threatening circumstances.

Byron Egeland et al. (1993)

Robertson and Cooper Quote

The behavioral component of resilience enables people to remain effective at home and work, able to focus on relevant tasks and goals and carry them out.

Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper (2013)

Agaibi and Wilson Resilience Quote

[I]t is possible to define the property of resilience as a complex repertoire of behavioral tendencies that may be evoked or activated by environmental demands.

Christine Agaibi and John Wilson (2005)

Campbell-Sills Quote

Resilience is seen as more than simple recovery from insult, rather it can be defined as positive growth or adaptation following periods of homeostatic disruption.

Laura Campbell-Sills (2006)

Connor and Davidson Quote

Resilience embodies the personal qualities that enable one to thrive in the face of adversity.

Kathryn Connor and Jonathan Davidson (2003)

Davydov and Colleagues Quote

Resilience can be viewed as a defence mechanism, which enables people to thrive in the face of adversity and improving resilience may be an important target for treatment and prophylaxis.

Dmitry Davydov et al. (2010)

Fletcher and Sarkar Resilience Trait Quote

When resilience is conceived as a trait, it has been suggested that it represents a constellation of characteristics that enable individuals to adapt to the circumstances they encounter.

David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar (2012)

Gillespie and Colleagues Resilience Self-efficacy Belief Quote

[R]esilience arises out of a belief in one’s own self-efficacy, the ability to deal with change, and use of a repertoire of problem-solving skills.

Brigid Gillespie et al. (2007)

Lee and Cranford Resilience Positive Adjustment Quote

Resilience can refer to positive adjustment in the face of adversity. Resilience has also been defined as the capacity of individuals to cope successfully with significant change, adversity or risk.

Hyun Lee and James Cranford (2008)

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Resilience in the Broader Context

Like all psychological concepts, resilience does not stand alone but instead exists within both a physical and mental context, on which it both depends and impacts:

Jacobs Quote

Internal locus of control influences responses to stressful events by improving coping strategies and reducing anxiety. Thus, perceived control is a key marker of stress resilience.

Tonya Jacobs et al. (2011)

Fletcher and Sarkar Resilience Training Program Quote

[A]ny psychological resilience training program should, as much as practically possible, consider the broader environment within which individuals operate.

David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar (2016)

Jackson and Watkin Quote

Resilience is fundamentally underpinned by the concept that it is not so much the hard times we face that determine our success or failure as the way in which we respond to those hard times.

Rachel Jackson and Chris Watkin (2004)

Werner Quote

If we want to help vulnerable youngsters become more resilient, we need to decrease their exposure to potent risk factors and increase their competencies and self-esteem, as well as the sources of support they can draw upon.

Emmy Werner (1995)

Fletcher and Sarkar Resilience Difficult Circumstances Quote

Increasingly, researchers focused on identifying the characteristics of individuals, particularly young people, who thrived while living in difficult circumstances, such as poverty and parental mental illness.

David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar (2013)

Davydov and Colleagues Resilience Risk Quote

[T]he concept of mental resilience is crucial to our understanding of how risks may be modified and disorders prevented.

Dmitry Davydov et al. (2010)

Bonanno Quote

Resilience to the unsettling effects of interpersonal loss is not rare but relatively common, does not appear to indicate pathology but rather healthy adjustment, and does not lead to delayed grief reactions.

George Bonanno (2004)

Dunn and Colleagues Quote

Stable, healthy, and resilient physicians are also better equipped for the emotionally and physically demanding tasks of providing care, comfort and hope to patients.

Laura Dunn et al. (2008)

Fletcher and Fletcher Quote

Mental toughness can, therefore, be conceived as an individual’s propensity to manage the demands of environmental stressors, ranging from an absolute resilience to extreme vulnerability.

David Fletcher and Jim Fletcher (2005)

Gillespie Resilience for Nurses Quote

Resilience is viewed as a vital attribute for nurses because it augments adaptation in demanding and volatile clinical environments such as operating rooms.

Brigid Gillespie et al. (2007)

Gu and Day Quote

Firstly, it is unrealistic to expect pupils to be resilient if their teachers, who constitute a primary source of their role models, do not demonstrate resilient qualities.

Qing Gu and Christopher Day (2007)

Clough and Strycharczyk Quote

All mentally tough individuals are resilient, but not all resilient individuals are mentally tough.

Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk (2015)

Tugade and Fredrickson Quote

Being able to move on despite negative stressors does not demonstrate luck on the part of those successful individuals but demonstrates a concept known as resilience.

Michele Tugade and Barbara Fredrickson (2004)

Schiraldi Quote

Resilience is a process and a staircase. You might be on step four of the staircase, and I might be on step one, but we can both keep moving up the staircase so that our resilience levels will hopefully exceed the rising tide of stress.

Glenn Schiraldi (2017)

Khosla Resilience Global Process Quote

Resilience is experienced as a global process relating to psychological, social and behavioral qualities involving genetic, developmental and neurochemical mechanisms.

Meetu Khosla (2017)

Khosla Resilience Process and Continuum Quote

Resilience is believed to be a process rather than a single event and a continuum rather than a binary outcome.

Meetu Khosla (2017)

Lee and Cranford Resilience Family Environments Quote

Family environments characterized by stability, cohesion, organization, and preservation of routines and rituals may be most conducive to resilience among adolescents.

Hyun Lee and James Cranford (2008)

Luthar and Cicchetti Quote

Resilience research has substantial potential to guide the development of effective interventions for diverse at-risk populations … to forces that are protective in nature as well as to those that exacerbate vulnerability, and to the mechanisms that underlie their effects.

Suniya Luthar and Dante Cicchetti (2000)

Neff and Broady Quote

[I]ndividuals who are exposed to moderately stressful experiences and who have the initial resources necessary to overcome those stressors may develop a resilience to the deleterious effects of later stress.

Lisa Neff and Elizabeth Broady (2011)

Newman Quote

Resilience is a multidimensional and not a unitary concept. There is no one characteristic or trait identified as resilience. Rather, there are many behaviors and actions associated with resilience.

Russ Newman (2005)

Palmer Resilience Military Quote

In terms of fostering resiliency prior to the development of symptoms, current research suggests that certain aspects of military life, such as field training exercises, unit cohesiveness, physical fitness, and leadership may be beneficial as part of preparedness interventions.

Cale Palmer (2008)

Palmer Resilience Parenting Quote

[I]t also appears that coping and parenting skills and parent-child relations may be an important focus of resilience-based interventions following mass violence and disaster.

Cale Palmer (2008)

Mahoney and Bergman Quote

The study of resilience represents a special subclass of research on positive functioning as it applies to risk populations under adversity… one limitation of resilience research is the neglect of a large range of positive functioning beyond the absence of problems.

Joseph Mahoney and Lars Bergman (2002)

Masten Resilience Ordinary Processes Quote

The conclusion that resilience is made of ordinary rather than extraordinary processes offers a more positive outlook on human development and adaptation, as well as direction for policy and practice aimed at enhancing the development of children at risk for problems and psychopathology.

Ann Masten (2001)

Masten Resilience Promote Development Quote

[P]ositive psychology poses important questions for resilience investigators about the differentiation of challenging experiences that undermine development versus those that promote development.

Ann Masten (2001)


30+ Resilience quotes and quotes about resilience

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What is Your Favorite Positive Psychology Quote?

The above quotes are taken from a sample of the vast amount of resilience research available. They represent the diversity of past research and the wealth of studies underway in the vital concept of resilience.

We would love to hear more of your thoughts and invite you to comment below.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Grief Exercises [PDF] for free.


  • Agaibi, C. E., & Wilson, J. P. (2005). Trauma, PTSD, and Resilience. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 6(3), 195–216.
  • Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience: Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Aversive Events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.
  • Campbell-Sills, L., Cohan, S. L., & Stein, M. B. (2006). Relationship of resilience to personality, coping, and psychiatric symptoms in young adults. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(4), 585–599.
  • Clough, P., & Strycharczyk, D. (2015). Developing mental toughness: Coaching strategies to improve performance, resilience and wellbeing. London, UK: Kogan Page.
  • Connor, K. M., & Davidson, J. R. T. (2003). Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Depression and Anxiety, 18(2), 76–82.
  • Davydov, D. M., Stewart, R., Ritchie, K., & Chaudieu, I. (2010). Resilience and mental health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(5), 479–495.
  • Dunn, L. B., Iglewicz, A., & Moutier, C. (2008). A conceptual model of medical student Well-Being: Promoting resilience and preventing burnout. Academic Psychiatry, 32(1), 44–53.
  • Egeland, B., Carlson, E., & Sroufe, L. A. (1993). Resilience as process. Development and Psychopathology, 5(4), 517-528.
  • Fletcher, D., & Fletcher, J. (2005). A meta-model of stress, emotions and performance: Conceptual foundations, theoretical framework, and research directions. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 157–158.
  • Fletcher, D., & Sarkar, M. (2012). A grounded theory of psychological resilience in Olympic champions. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 669–678.
  • Fletcher, D., & Sarkar, M. (2013). Psychological resilience. European Psychologist, 18(1), 12–23.
  • Fletcher, D., & Sarkar, M. (2016). Mental fortitude training: An evidence-based approach to developing psychological resilience for sustained success. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 7(3), 135-157.
  • Gillespie, B. M., Chaboyer, M., Wallis, M., & Grimbeek, P. (2007). Resilience in the operating room: Developing and testing of a resilience model. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 59, 427–438.
  • Gu, Q., & Day, C. (2007). Teachers resilience: A necessary condition for effectiveness. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(8), 1302–1316.
  • Herrman, H., Stewart, D. E., Diaz-Granados, N., Berger, E. L., Jackson, B., & Yuen, T. (2011). What is resilience? The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(5), 258–265.
  • Jackson, R., & Watkin, C. (2004). The resilience inventory: Seven essential skills for overcoming life’s obstacles and determining happiness. Selection and Development Review, 20(6), 13-17.
  • Jacobs, T. L., Epel, E. S., Lin, J., Blackburn, E. H., Wolkowitz, O. M., Bridwell, D. A., … Saron, C. D. (2011). Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36(5), 664–681.
  • Khosla, M. (2017). Resilience and health: Implications for interventions and policy making. Psychological Studies, 62(3), 233–240.
  • Lee, H. H., & Cranford, J. A. (2008). Does resilience moderate the associations between parental problem drinking and adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors? Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 96(3), 213–221.
  • Luthar, S. S., & Cicchetti, D. (2000). The construct of resilience: Implications for interventions and social policies. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 857–885.
  • Mahoney, J. L., & Bergman, L. R. (2002). Conceptual and methodological considerations in a developmental approach to the study of positive adaptation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 23(2), 195–217.
  • Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3), 227–238.
  • Neff, L. A., & Broady, E. F. (2011). Stress resilience in early marriage: Can practice make perfect? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(5), 1050–1067.
  • Newman, R. (2005). APA’s resilience initiative. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(3), 227–229.
  • Palmer, C. (2008). A theory of risk and resilience factors in military families. Military Psychology, 20(3), 205–217.
  • Robertson, I. T., & Cooper, C. L. (2013). Resilience. Stress and Health, 29(3), 175–176.
  • Robertson, I. T., Cooper, C. L., Sarkar, M., & Curran, T. (2015). Resilience training in the workplace from 2003 to 2014: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88(3), 533-562.
  • Rutter, M. (1985). Resilience in the face of adversity. Protective factors and resistance to psychiatric disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 147(6), 598–611.
  • Rutter, M. (1993). Resilience: Some conceptual considerations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 14(8), 626–631.
  • Rutter, M. (2012). Resilience as a dynamic concept. Development and Psychopathology, 24(2), 335-44.
  • Schiraldi, G. (2017). What do resilient people look like? New Harbinger Publications. Retrieved from https://www.newharbinger.com/blog/what-do-resilient-people-look
  • Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 320-333.
  • Werner, E. E. (1995). Resilience in development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4(3), 81–84.


What our readers think

  1. Darcy Lee Caplan, MPP

    Thank for this interesting gather of quotes about resilience. I think it’s a huge part of well-being and one I keep going back to researching time and time again as a practitioner (and human with my own needs for development). The lack of resilience is the cause of much suffering and even physical ailments. I am always open to information about the development of resilience. It was nicely said in a couple quotes here that it’s a constellation of behaviors and believes.. it’s not just one thing. This can make it a bit allusive to many. The locus of control seems to be one of the larger keys, but any more on the “how” is always welcome!


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