Inspirational quotes about chronic pain that actually resonate with what we’re going through can be hard as hell to find. Living with constant pain or chronic illness is a tough slog, rougher than “able-bodied” people can ever know. Finding the joy in a life filled with pain is more difficult for us, but it’s also more important.
That’s why for the new year I put together my top 10 favorite inspirational quotes about chronic pain and joy. I find value, comfort and motivation in these wise sayings about the change, growth, and happiness in life. And those of us with chronic pain need to seek out the joy however we can.
All we get is one life. We may not get to choose our bodies and how they break down on us, but we can make the best of what we have, strive to be more than we are, and appreciate the glimmers of joy every day.
Click through this slideshow to find an inspirational quote about chronic pain that resonates with you. Or just scroll on down!
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about. When it comes to our health and living with pain, we got a raw deal. Most people do not and will never understand the quiet war we fight, alone and silently, against our own bodies and minds.
When you’re looking at things through a haze of pain, seeing the good in little things isn’t easy. When you’re stuck at home 24/7 it can be hard to see the growth and change happening all around you. That doesn’t make the daily battle to live as fully as those limitations allow any less crucial. Sometimes just (“just”) taking a shower, or choosing not to order pizza, is a huge win! And ought to be celebrated as such. When getting out of bed is a win, don’t be embarrassed to think of it that way.
Chronic pain makes losing weight massively harder. Even so, patients often have a harder time finding answers for conditions completely unrelated to what it says on their scale! Read more about weight, pain, and why you shouldn’t feel bad if you can’t shed those extra pounds.
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness… in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” – Frederick Buechner
We got a raw deal, and because of that, it can be so easy to slip into a cycle of feeling sorry for yourself. You start focusing on what you can’t do, what you’re missing out on. But here’s the thing: the energy and spoons you’re spending on what may now be out of reach? That’s energy you aren’t focusing on what IS possible.
Yes, we’re in pain, yes, it changed the foundation of our lives, and yes, it can be boring as hell. That doesn’t mean there isn’t joy and fulfillment out there too! But you have to get your head in the right place to find it, and you have to do the work to keep it there.
“We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old.” – Frederick Buechner
Change isn’t always easy or comfortable. Growth can hurt like hell, which is why I love this other quote from Buechner. But change and growth are inevitable, and clinging onto the past won’t serve you in any way. Look to the future and who you want to be there. And don’t be afraid of leaving the person you used to be in the dust. You can be so much more than you are right now, whatever your limitations are. Speaking of change…
Want more Buechner? Check out the Best Inspiring Quotes About Invisible Illness ! He’s one wise dude with some good stuff to say about motivation, chronic pain and joy.
“Success is measured by how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George Patton
I don’t think you can truly know a person unless you’ve seen how they act when being tested. Hell, I don’t think you can really know yourself until you’ve had to fight– and if you’re reading a page of quotes to motivate people with disabilities, you’re already fighting that fight. The silver lining is that you will come out of this knowing yourself and knowing your capabilities better than most.
Speaking of fighting the fight! This Bukowski line is from my very first page of the best quotes about chronic pain, disability and mental health. There are some great inspirational quotes about chronic pain in there too!
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” ~ Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is so frickin’ amazing that she deserves a post all of her own. Her quotes about invisible illness are prescient. They communicate what life is like for those of us with chronic pain or invisible disabilities in a way that most cannot.
And boy, she got this one right. Laughter can be tough to come by when you’re looking down the years in front of you and seeing nothing but hurt. But there’s a lot of science showing laughter’s real positive effect on pain and mood. Plus it’s, y’know, fun. Find what makes you laugh, and then go find more of it. Speaking of…
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterwards.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Speaking of people I absolutely love, Vonnegut is an incredibly wise man who also writes amazing fiction.” If you’ve never read Man Without A Country, I’ll wait while you click through and order it. There’s so much that is good and funny and wise there that I barely know where to start. But since we’re talking about laughter, chronic pain and joy, I figured I’d go with this one. When things go wrong, you can either laugh or cry. To some extent, you choose how things affect you. If you can possibly laugh, you definitely should.
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Being in pain all the time can feel like a prison. Everything is more difficult and nobody seems to understand. But that doesn’t make this other Man Without A Country quote any less true, or any less important. The only way to get through any of this is to grab onto the good stuff with both hands and hold it tight. You have to not just find the joy among chronic pain, but notice and value it when you do. Find the small pockets of niceness around you and, per ol’ Uncle Kurt, take a second to appreciate them.
“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” – Mary Oliver
Like the Vonnegut quote, this applies to everyone, but is an especially important reminder for those with chronic health conditions that force you to rely on others more than you’d like.
It can be hard to spot and value whimsy. It can be incredibly hard to find support. Being disabled in America is virtually impossible without help. And just valuing yourself as you struggle while the world continually shits on you is hard.
But you do have value, and there is joy out there for you to experience despite your pain. Anyone who doesn’t want to maximize your happiness and your self-sufficiency should be taken out to the curb immediately. Build yourself a life filled with as much laughter as you can, and don’t settle for less than a partner who treats you as an equal.
Want to find a partner who treats you as an equal? Check out my article on dating with chronic pain & invisible disabilities!
“This world is so full of care and sorrow that it is a gracious debt we owe to one another to discover the bright crystals of hidden delight hidden in somber circumstances and irksome tasks.” – Helen Keller
Another truly badass disabled woman. We’ve all heard the Annie Sullivan portion of her life, but did you know that she spent most of the rest of it fighting for socialism and rights for others? Take a gander at “Co-Founding the ACLU, Fighting for Labor Rights and Other Helen Keller Accomplishments Students Don’t Learn in School” as a good starting place.
If she can fight, we can fight. If she can find those bright crystals of delight, we ought to take a page out of her book.
“There is no growth without change, no change without fear or loss, and no loss without pain.” -Rick Warren
Another nice little meditation on change and grief. Despite the fact that this quote comes from an absolute asshole, it’s true. Like it or not, we’re constantly growing into something new and leaving the something old behind. That can be especially hard when what we’re leaving behind is a life where we’re able-bodied or pain-free. Those of us with disabilities and chronic health issues have had some of our choices taken away from us (see the quote below from one of my favorite movies, Murderball!) But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your disability has to run your future.
“Preach all you want– it could have been worse– but what’s normal will never be the same.”-new paraplegic Keith Cavill in Murderball
“When I interviewed Maya Angelou, she told me to write this on a piece of paper and never forget it: ‘Every storm runs out of rain.’ I still think of that line to this day.” -Alex Banayan
This is really a double quote, I suppose, but a great one. It can be so, so hard to remember that there’s joy out there despite chronic pain that’s never-ending. But the worst parts will always pass, and you never know what’s to come in the future. I am currently doing better than I ever allowed myself to dream of ten years ago. You just never know, so you’ve gotta hang on tight. (Read the article it came from and learn some more of Maya Angelou’s Most Empowering Lessons!)
“We belong to every part of our lives and every part of our lives belongs to us. Even the failures, the flaws, the cowardice. The sacred work is to embrace those scared and wounded parts with the kindness and forgiveness we so generously give to others.” – Rev. Scott Tayler
Raise your hand if you’re way harder on yourself than you are on anybody else. I’m guessing it’s not just me! This is one of the hardest things yet one of the most important things. Wanna know the secret? There isn’t one. It’s hard fuckin’ work but the more you succeed at it, the more you realize how incredibly crucial it is.
Want more inspiring quotes about chronic pain, invisible illness, mental health, and how to live a hell of a life despite it all?
We’ve been dealt a shitty hand of cards, no doubt. But it’s our choice whether to ante up and see what happens, or to just fold. I prefer to play the game! But sometimes I need inspirational quotes about chronic pain, invisible illness, mental health, and self care like these to remind me exactly why I fight. And that I’m not alone.