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Published May 13, 2011, 12:00 AM

Val Farmer: Great thinkers provide advice for tough times

Here are some thoughts to help get through tough times when losses mount and when life seems overwhelming.

By: Val Farmer, INFORUM

Here are some thoughts to help get through tough times when losses mount and when life seems overwhelming.

Courage. “Mankind is best served by those who simply do not crack up when all expect them to.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

“Be courageous! ... Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!” – Thomas Edison in his last public address.

“If I were dying, my last words would be: have faith and pursue the unknown end. ... There must be a drift, if one will go prepared and have patience, which will bring one out to daylight and a worthy end. ... one is safe in trusting to courage and to time.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“I shall find a way or make one.” – Admiral Peary

“The result of any man’s life will consist of his character multiplied by his circumstances.” – Tennyson

Deal with it. “Whatever the situation and however disheartening it may be, it is a great hour when a man ceases adopting it as an excuse for despondency and tackles himself as the real problem.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

“Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans.” – A. J. Marshall

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. ... We all make mistakes; we all set out on some detours and pursue some wrong roads; and the dogged presumption – and sometimes perhaps more foolish pride than presumption – that once having started wrong we have to follow through is one of the reasons why people sometimes find themselves in deep and dangerous ruts. All choices of life should be looked at forthrightly, searchingly, sincerely.” – Thoreau

“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater their power over us.” – Voltaire

“If you have to swallow a frog, you don’t want to have to look at it too long.” – by a former farmer at a couples retreat.

Endurance and patience. “The lesson I strive to learn, the lesson which appears so easy, but is so hard, is to remember in the down times that they will not last and the up times will return.” – Gamaliel Bradford.

“Endure, and keep yourself for days of happiness.” – Virgil

“No one could endure adversity, if while it continued, it kept the same violence that its first blows had. ... No state is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find in it some consolation. ... It is possible to soften what is hard. ... and burdens will press less heavily upon those who bear them skillfully.” – Seneca

Hope. “Very strange is this quality of human nature which decrees that unless we feel a future before us, we do not live completely in the present. (Human nature) always must look forward.” – Phillip Brooks

“It is necessary to hope, though hope should be always deluded; for hope itself is happiness, and its frustrations, however frequent, are yet less dreadful than its extinction.” – Samuel Johnson

Joyce Evans of Belfast, Ireland, was having trouble with a pregnancy. One of the nurses told her she would probably lose the baby.

She replied, “But I can’t give up. You have to give me hope.” She later recalled, “I couldn’t give up hope until all reason for hope was gone. It was something I owed my unborn child.”

Three days later she had a miscarriage. She wrote, “For one long moment, I felt nothing. Then a profound feeling of peace flowed through me. With the peace came understanding. I know now why I couldn’t give up hope in spite of all the circumstances: You either live in hope or you live in despair. Without hope you cannot endure. ...” – Story related by James E. Faust

Perspective. “If all men were to bring their miseries in one place, most would be glad to take ... home again ... each his own.” – Solon

“Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Longfellow

“True dignity abides with him alone who, in the silent hour of inward thought, can still suspect, and still revere himself, in lowliness of heart.” – Wordsworth

Struggle. “None knows the weight of another’s burden. You may search all the ages for a person who has no problems. You may look through the streets of Heaven, asking each one how he came there, and you will look in vain everywhere for a man morally and spiritually strong, whose strength did not come from struggle. Do not suppose that there is any man who has never wrestled with his own success and happiness. There is no exception anywhere. Every true strength is gained in struggle.” – George Herbert.


Val Farmer is a clinical psychologist specializing in family business consultation and mediation with farm families. He lives in Wildwood, Mo., and can be contacted through his website, www.valfarmer.com.

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