“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said the Quote?

Updated January 12, 2024

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to feel like we’re getting a glimpse of what the rest of our lives will be like. Quotes like “tough times don’t last, tough people do” can help us remember that all things must pass.

  • Attributed to Robert H. Schuller, an American televangelist (among other things,) this quote touches upon the fact that hard times don’t last forever. Beyond that, though, it reminds us that deliberately working to build character can help us persevere through even the most extreme difficulties.

Let’s take a closer look at who Robert Schuller was, the Stoic meaning behind this quote, and the Stoic themes sprinkled through Schuller’s work.

“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said It?

The quote “tough times don’t last, tough people do” is attributed to the televangelist, motivational speaker, and pastor Robert H. Schuller.

Best known for his TV program “Hour of Power,” Schuller was the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in California. He spent an impressive five decades doing his TV broadcast before passing it on to his grandson, who still carries the torch to this day.

His career as a TV broadcaster began after he was encouraged to do so by his friend Billy Graham, the well-known American evangelist. It is thought that about 20 million people would regularly watch his televised sermons during the 1990s, and his weekly telecast is said to be the most widely watched hour-long church service in the entire world ever.

The Stoic Meaning Behind the Quote

Even though Robert H. Schuller wasn’t a Stoic in the philosophical sense, and there are certainly quite notable differences between his own viewpoints and the ancient Stoics, there’s also quite a bit of overlap.

  • In this quote, we notice a number of prominent Stoic themes. Let’s take a closer look at each of them to dive deeper into the Stoic meaning behind the quote.

Acceptance and Impermanence

One idea that is often discussed by the Stoics is the need to accept one’s fate and one’s lot in life. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take action and participate fully in life. At the same time, though, it does mean that you have to look reality right in the face and be willing to accept or even embrace it.

“The universe is change. Life is opinion.”

- Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism teaches that external circumstances are often beyond our control, and one should accept the impermanent nature of both good and bad times. In this quote, the implication is that tough times are transient, reinforcing the Stoic idea of accepting the changing nature of life.

Endurance and Resilience

Another important concept that Stoicism emphasizes is developing inner strength and resilience in the face of adversity. The quote we’re examining today suggests that individuals with inner toughness and resilience can withstand and endure challenging situations, aligning with what the Stoics teach us in their writings.

“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said the Quote? Marcus aurelius image and quote

"Nothing befalls a man except what is in his nature to endure."

- Marcus Aurelius

The Importance of Virtue and Character

The four cardinal virtues of Stoicism are wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. In order to live a good life, according to the Stoics, we must work to live a virtuous life. After all, Stoicism holds that virtue is the only good.

  • In this quote, Schuller implies that “tough people” are people of character who are able to forge forward through “tough times” and make it to the other side. 

Perception and Mindset

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” implies that tough people maintain a positive mindset and perspective, viewing challenges as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles. This is a very Stoic idea indeed!

“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said the Quote? Marcus aurelius image and quote

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.”

- Marcus Aurelius

If you’ve been following Stoicism for any length of time, you likely know that the philosophy places a significant emphasis on the truth that we don’t have control over external factors, but we do have control over our mindset.

Control and Self-Reliance

Another aspect of this quote is the (indirect) implication that tough people understand the dichotomy of control. Tough times are something that can happen to anyone and, in fact, will probably happen to everyone a few times throughout life. This isn’t necessarily something we can control.

What we can control, though, is whether or not we are tough.

  • Do we work to become wiser, stronger, and better every day?
  • Do we take the task of cultivating our personalities seriously?
  • Do we wake up every day eager to learn and improve ourselves?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you will be able to endure whatever life throws at you. It might not be fun all the time, and there’s always going to be some pain and suffering along the way, but developing your character and focusing on virtue will be absolutely key to getting you to the other side.

Who Was Robert Harold Schuller?

Robert H. Schuller was an American Christian televangelist, pastor, and author best known for founding the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and for hosting the "Hour of Power" television program.

Born on September 16, 1926, in Alton, Iowa, Schuller became a prominent figure in the field of positive thinking and motivational preaching. The Crystal Cathedral was founded when Schuller wasn’t even 30 years old yet in 1955. This institution, originally named the Reformed  Church in America, became well-known thanks to its architectural design.

Schuller hosted the "Hour of Power" television program, which began in 1970. The program featured Schuller's sermons, focusing on positive thinking, self-esteem, and the practical application of Christian principles to everyday life. This show was a pretty big deal at the time– it reached a global audience and became one of the most-watched religious programs.

Schuller is also known for authoring several books, including one entitled “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!” In his writings, he often focuses on:

  • Motivational ideas
  • Personal development
  • Spiritual growth

Though the latter part of Schuller’s life was marked with difficulties, including significant financial struggles in the midst of the Great Recession, his contributions to the realms of positive thinking in Christianity can’t be overlooked.

Was Robert H. Schuller a Stoic?

By no stretch of the imagination could you simply say that Schuller was a Stoic without further elaboration. A better description of his work and impact would be to say that he incorporated positive thinking, self-help, and psychological principles into modern Christian theology.

Some of the core messages of Schuller’s ministry included:

  • The possibility of personal success through faith
  • Self-esteem
  • Positivity, optimism, and ‘possibility thinking’
  • Self-improvement
  • Overcoming adversity
  • The ability to apply Christian ideas practically

As you can see, this isn’t a perfect overlap with the ideas of Stoicism by any means. At the same time, there are a number of important similarities, including the focus on personal development, overcoming adversity, and practically applying one’s worldview to one’s day-to-day life.

Stoic Themes in the Work of Robert H. Schuller

Let’s take a closer look at the Stoic themes that show up in the ministry and writings of Robert Schuller.

The Importance of Attitude

Stoicism emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, especially in the face of adversity. Schuller, too, was known for promoting positive thinking and maintaining a hopeful outlook on life. In his teachings, we often find encouragement to focus on positive thoughts and attitudes to overcome challenges.

Resilience in Adversity

If you’re at all familiar with the works of the ancient Stoics, you’ve probably come across the idea that we should work to increase our resiliency to life’s challenges.

“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said the Quote? seneca the younger image and quote

"I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent— no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you." 

- Seneca the Younger

In the work of Robert H. Schuller, we find similar themes spread throughout his writings and motivational speeches.

We find the following messages over and over again:

  • The importance of facing adversity with courage
  • Working to overcome obstacles
  • Developing resilience through a positive mindset and faith

Focus on Inner Strength

In both Stoicism and Schuler’s Christian theology, we find a focus on cultivating inner strength.

In this day and age, it’s easy to simply do what everyone else is doing without taking much time to connect with your deeper self.

“Tough Times Don't Last Tough People Do” - Who Said the Quote? Marcus aurelius image and quote

"Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look."

- Marcus Aurelius

The call from both the ancient Stoics and Schuller to tap into one’s potential and search for inner strength is one that we can all benefit from.

Acceptance of One’s Circumstances

We’ve talked a lot in other posts about the Stoic concept of amor fati, a Latin phrase that means “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate.” This idea is apparent in the quote “tough times don’t last, tough people do” as well as throughout the work of Schuller.

When we go through difficult experiences, it’s tempting to curse the sky and otherwise look around for someone to blame. This is ultimately wasted energy, though– the truth is, it simply is what it is.

If we can accept the way things are, we are taking the first necessary step to actually change the way things are. Only when we are willing to embrace the reality we find ourselves in now can we really identify where our control lies and what we can do to improve our lives?

Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do: The Book

Our quote today isn’t just something that Schuller wrote or spoke one time– he wrote a whole book with that as the title!

This is one of Schuller’s most well-known works, which was published in 1983. One of the key messages of the book can be found right in the title– the idea that individuals can overcome challenges and adversity through resilience and strength of character.

Here are some of the main themes we find in this popular title:

  • The importance of positive thinking and resilience: The central theme of the book revolves around the power of positive thinking and the importance of developing resilience in the face of life's challenges. Schuller encourages readers to adopt a positive mindset and face difficulties with determination and strength.
  • A focus on faith and spirituality: As a Christian televangelist, Schuller infuses the book with spiritual and faith-based concepts. One point he emphasizes over and over again is the role of faith in providing strength and guidance during tough times.
  • Offering practical advice for overcoming adversity: Throughout the book, Schuller offers practical advice and strategies for overcoming adversity. He shares stories of people who have faced difficult circumstances and emerged stronger in a particularly uplifting and motivating way.
  • Discussion of his ‘theology of possibility’: Schuller is known for his "theology of possibility," which emphasizes that individuals have the power to shape their destinies through faith and positive thinking. The book encourages readers to see possibilities even in challenging situations.
  • Applicability to everyday life: Much like Stoicism, the ideas in Schuller’s book intend to be actually applicable to actual life. Much of the text addresses common life struggles and provides insights into how individuals can navigate and overcome them.
  • The possibility of personal growth and personal transformation: Schuller also urges readers to take control of their attitudes, beliefs, and actions in order to develop their character. He argues that personal transformation is possible when we are able to take control of our mindset.

Other Quotes From Robert H. Schuller

Robert H. Schuller might not be a man that is commonly discussed by the modern Stoicism community, and opinions on his work and legacy vary quite a bit.

When you look through this list of other quotes from Robert H. Schuller, though, it becomes clear there is a lot of wisdom to be found in his words. Many of his ideas are certainly in line with the ideas of the great Stoics like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca the Younger, even if the language he uses to express these ideas is more rooted in Christian theology than Hellenistic philosophy.

Tough Times

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” isn’t the only Schuller quote that talks about how to deal with the rougher moments in life. Here are a few more that you can refer to when you need a little pep talk.

“Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“In difficult times, people too often lose the ability to face the future optimistically. They begin to think about their tomorrow's negatively. They forget that the tough times will pass. They concentrate on the problems of today rather than on the opportunities of tomorrow. In so doing, they not only lose the potential of today, they also throw away the beauty of tomorrow.” “Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.”  

- Robert H. Schuller

“Press on. Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Every problem has a limited life span.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Problems are guidelines, not stop signs!”

- Robert H. Schuller  

“It takes guts to get out of the ruts.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“When you can't solve the problem, manage it.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Never bring the problem solving stage into the decision making stage. Otherwise, you surrender yourself to the problem rather than the solution.

- Robert H. Schuller

Persistence and Opportunity

The Stoics emphasized the importance of persistence and endurance in relation to life’s challenges. In the following quotes, we see how Schuller, too, encouraged his audience (enthusiastically, mind you) to keep moving forward and never give up.

“When faced with a mountain, I WILL NOT QUIT! I will keep on striving until I climb over, find a pass through, tunnel underneath, or simply stay and turn the mountain into a gold mine with God's help!”

- Robert H. Schuller

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.”

- Robert H. Schuller

Anxiety and Pain

Now, let's look at a few of Schuller's best quotes about dealing with worry, anxiety, and the pain of life.

“It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Believe in dreams. Never believe in hurts... You can't let the grief and the hurts and the breaking experiences of life control your future decisions.”

- Robert H. Schuller


In the modern world, we often think of success in material terms. To both the Stoics and Schuller, success has more to do with personal development than the accumulation of worldly possessions.

One notable place where Schuller's words seem to stray from those of the Stoics is his emphasis on optimism and belief in oneself. It’s not necessarily that these ideas are opposed to those in Stoicism, but this positive thinking focus isn’t quite in line with the Stoics' view on perception and mindset.

“The secret of success is to find a need and fill it, to find a hurt and heal it, to find somebody with a problem and offer to help solve it.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“The only thing that stands between you and grand success in living are these two things: getting started and never quitting!”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“I'd rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.”

“Every achiever that I have ever met says, 'My life turned around when I began to believe in me'.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Today's accomplishments were yesterday's impossibilities.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Some people are at the top of the ladder, some are in the middle, still more are at the bottom, and a whole lot more don't even know there is a ladder.”

- Robert H. Schuller


If we let it, fear can rule our lives. It can lead us to make decisions we don’t really believe in. It can hold us back from fulfilling our true potential and really engaging with life.

  • The Stoics remind us that many of the things we fear the most never actually happen. They tell us that fear is in our mind, meaning it’s one of the things that’s actually in our control.

Schuller also encourages his audience to get over their fears so they can really live. If one wants true success in life, you have to quiet the nagging voice of your fears and persevere.

“If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“You can think negatively or positively. If you are a positive thinker, you will base your decisions on faith rather than fear.”

- Robert H. Schuller


It would be unfair to have a list of Schuller quotes without touching upon one of the topics he discussed the most: faith.

Though faith in Christian theology might differ in some sense from the ideas of Stoicism, the Stoics did believe that the universe was a rational and ordered place. They embraced the notion of fate in a way that, in some sense, ultimately required faith.

“Faith is reacting positively to a negative situation.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Have faith in your faith-and doubt your doubts.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome. Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy: true fulfillment. What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Our greatest lack is not money for any undertaking, but rather ideas, If the ideas are good, cash will somehow flow to where it is needed.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“We are born to soar. We are children of God. ... The Fatherhood of God offers a deep spiritual cure for the inferiority complex and lays the firm foundation for a solid spiritual self-esteem.”

- Robert H. Schuller


Some people think that being a Stoic means accepting your lot and never striving for anything. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

Stoic philosophers came in all shapes and sizes, from Roman emperors to freed slaves. The point of Stoicism isn’t that you should just passively exist in relation to the world. On the contrary, you have a duty to participate in society, the larger network of which you are a part.

Schuller encouraged his followers to be bold in their thinking when trying to imagine their future.

“Since it doesn't cost a dime to dream, you'll never shortchange yourself when you stretch your imagination.”

- Robert H. Schuller  

“Every burden is a blessing.”

- Robert H. Schuller


One of the aspects of Stoicism that has helped launch it back into public consciousness in the last decade is its focus on controlling our own mindset. Once a person realizes that they can’t control external events but they can control what is internal to their experience, it can completely revolutionize their life.

Schuller, too, focuses on the importance of attitude and mindset in his work. Here are some quotes that remind us that we, ultimately, get to choose how we perceive the events of our lives.

“The good news is that the bad news can be turned into good news when you change your attitude.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Optimism refuses to believe that the road ends without options.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“If you will make a deliberate decision to develop a positive attitude toward opportunities and obstacles, you are on your way toward having what is the most important quality in education: the power of positive thinking.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Daring to dream means daring to live.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“There exists only one person who has the power to cast the deciding vote that will kill your dream– you!”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Doomed are the hotheads! Unhappy are they who lose their cool and are too proud to say, I'm sorry.”

- Robert H. Schuller


It’s easy in life to get caught up just getting through the day. But where are you going in the big picture? Who are you trying to become?

The Stoics emphasized that life is about personal development, not just getting by and staying comfortable. Let’s take a look at some of the quotes from Schuller that touch upon the notion of embracing our future potential and remaining open to the possibility of greatness, success, and even the miraculous.

“You know how many seeds are in an apple. But you don't know how many apples are in a seed.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Impossible situations can become possible miracles.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“I see the invisible. I believe the incredible. I attempt the impossible.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Never sell tomorrow short. There's plenty to get excited about. Be filled with expectation, hope and confidence. Believe something good is going to happen - and it usually will.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“As we grow as unique persons, we learn to respect the uniqueness of others.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Never underestimate the value of an idea. Every positive idea has within its potential for success if it is managed properly.”

- Robert H. Schuller


Reading inspirational quotes can be an awesome way to get your gears spinning and motivate you to get going. However, you do actually have to get going.

Without action, all of our incredible ideas never have any actual expression in the world. Without action, we can’t learn through experience and continue to hone our perception over time.

Many people struggle with getting so caught up in their minds that they struggle to take the first steps. Ultimately, Stoicism is an action-oriented philosophy, as your actions are one of the only things you can really control.

Schuller, too, encourages us to get moving. Here are some of his best quotes about taking action and seizing the day.

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“If you are creative enough to imagine a problem, you're clever enough to discover a solution.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Build a dream and the dream will build you.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.”

- Robert H. Schuller

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.”

- Robert H. Schuller

Practicing Stoicism For a Better Life

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” is a quote from Robert Schuller that reminds us that obstacles and adversity are not permanent features of our lives. Everything is impermanent, in fact, both the things we experience as good and those we experience as bad. When we’re suffering or dealing with hard times, it’s easy to feel like we will never get out of the hole we’re in.

With Schuller’s words, though, we remember that all things must pass. Furthermore, we engage with the truth that we can deliberately work to improve our character in a way that supports our ability to endure hardship. Even one step beyond that, we can learn to recognize that the rough spots we hit in life are actually major opportunities to cultivate virtue and character.

Are you ready to change your life for the better? Are you wondering whether Stoicism is really the path to the good life? Make sure you check out the rest of our Stoic Quotes blog for more insights, inspiration, and musings!

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Written by: Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College and has always maintained a deep interest in the question of how best to live one’s life. She hopes to help others understand how they can apply Stoicism in their day-to-day lives in order to become the person they want to be, embrace the present moment, pursue their purposes, and rid themselves of unnecessary anxiety.

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