Reflections on the Resilience of the Human Spirit

Written by on December 23, 2020 in Perseverance, Self-Determination


Though it’s not for lack of trying, there appears to be no universally accepted definition of that elusive thing called the human spirit.

Researchers say it is a combination of our mental functions of awareness, insight, understanding, judgment, and other reasoning powers.

Philosophers hold that the human spirit represents the essence of who we are, and includes our emotions, fears, passions, purpose, meaning, and creativity.

It’s sometimes used to mean the same as the soul, but some argue the two are very different.

I’ve always taken pride in being rational, holding out for the facts and logical reasons behind any issue, claim, or question.

But after years of studying resilience and encountering so many people who have overcome the most unimaginable experiences, I have embraced the truth that there is something deep within each of us that only surfaces in the darkest times of our life.  

Call it heart, a spark of light, hope, inner strength, or plain old dogged determination – it spurs us to take action and keep moving forward.  

Rather than try to define or explain it away, maybe we should just nurture and celebrate it with a few inspiring insights about the resilience of the human spirit.


You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other and darn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.

~Elizabeth Taylor


The Resilience of the Human Spirit

There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail. There is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes. ~Leo Tolstoy

The human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, and differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. ~Bernard Beckett

It’s not what you have on the outside that glitters in the light; it’s what you have on the inside that shines in the dark. ~Anthony Liccione

It’s kind of bittersweet. The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart. ~Yakov Smirnoff

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. ~Wilma Rudolph

Both now and always I intend to hold fast to my belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit. ~Andrei Sakharov

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ~e.e. Cummings

If I fail, I try again, and again, and again. If you fail, are you going to try again? The human spirit can handle much worse than we realize. It matters how you are going to finish. Are you going to finish strong? ~Nick Vujicic

Perhaps the greatest magic of the human spirit is the ability to laugh, at ourselves, at each other, and our sometimes-hopeless situations. Laughter normalizes our lives. ~Torey Hayden

Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it allows me to survive, and better than that, to thrive with passion, compassion, and style. ~Maya Angelou

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict. ~William Ellery Channing

It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated. it is finished when it surrenders. ~Ben Stein

The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources. ~Luc de Clapiers

You have within you, something magical. The human spirit cannot be seen. It can only be felt from within. It does not shine when the sun shines and your life is comfortable. It shines when darkness swallows you and you cannot breathe for the fear. That’s when what is invisible becomes undeniable. ~Toni Sorenson

Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit. ~Bernard Williams

The human spirit is tremendously resilient. It can withstand the most horrific of circumstances, whether of human or divine creation. It is not these larger-than-life situations that beat us. It’s the little things. ~Sheila Williams

Extreme darkness rekindles the radiant flame of the human spirit. You are much stronger than you think. ~Anthon St. Maarten

The human spirit is as expansive as the cosmos. This is why it is so tragic to belittle yourself or to question your worth. The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity, and unbounded hope – all reside within you. ~Daisaku Ikeda

This is the core of the human spirit. If we can find something to live for, if we can find some meaning to put at the center of our lives – even the worst kind of suffering becomes bearable. ~Viktor E. Frankl

The Takeaway

Hard times teach us lessons, make us stronger, and in many ways help us to discover who we really are.

But life goes on … and so must we.

If you’re feeling beat to hell from hanging on and trying so hard to be strong, know this: your spirit may be wounded, but you are not powerless.

You have the power to choose your attitude, your responses to life’s challenges, and the amount of effort you are willing to make to create a life that is abundant and fulfilling.

More importantly, you are stronger, more resilient, and more beautiful than you imagine.

It doesn’t matter what your age or circumstances may be at this moment. You are the author of your story, and your story is your life.

There are still so many things to learn and experience, so many beautiful new chapters to be written.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and founder of Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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