Life is not meant to be easy

Quotes can be infuriating at times. Someone comes up with a quote, and then you think – that’s not quite right. And then you wonder who said it originally and what is the exact wording.

That happened in our Bible Study group earlier this week. Someone said that “life wasn’t meant to be easy.” One of our participants M gave a much longer version none of us had previously heard, but it sounded great. I reached for an old version of the Dictionary of Quotations but it wasn’t there. So out came the laptop and I Googled the phrase.

The most common reference to this quote was to former Prime Minister of Australia. Malcolm Fraser who uttered the words, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy” in the Australian Parliament many years ago. This has been quoted on numerous occasions and in many different contexts since. Still – it was not the exact quote M had used.

I finally tracked down its source. Here is the full, and correct, quote:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”

George Bernard Shaw – English Playwright [sic], 1856-1950

Correction: As Hector has pointed out in the comments below this article, Shaw was, in fact, Irish. Most of his life he was based in England.

For more details check out:

So there you go.

Curiosity satisfied.


9 Responses to “Life is not meant to be easy”

  1. Don’t Look For the Easy Life says:

    […] Trevor Hampel posted today about his search to find the source of the quote “Life isn’t meant to be easy“. As so often happens, reading this post and the full quote got me thinking – a thoroughly dangerous activity, I know. […]

  2. Hector Blamey says:

    Actually George Bernard Shaw was Irish, and the play was “Back to Methuselah, 1921”

  3. Trevor says:

    You are correct Hector. I’m not sure how that error crept into what I wrote, but I’ve made a correction to the post. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Daryll says:

    Thanks guys for this little gem. It is important to get quotes correct. This quote, like many made from the Bible, when we hear only a part of it, give an incorrect understanding to the original author’s intended meaning.

  5. Trevor says:

    Hi there Daryll. Welcome to my blog and thanks for the comments.

  6. John says:

    Are you sure that it was Fraser who said it? I could have sworn it was The Ozzie Lizard: Paul Keating!

  7. George says:

    “Life wasnt meant to be easy” was not originally penned by Shaw, but by another, earlier, Irish playwright, Oliver Goldsmith. Shaw had the good grace to attribute the phrase to him.

  8. Trevor says:

    Thanks for the comment George, though I am quite perplexed by your claim. I can find no reference to back up what you are saying. The quote comes directly from Shaw’s play “Back to Methuselah”.

    Every quote I have discovered – and I’ve checked dozens of them – attributes this saying to Shaw. Can you give me an authoritative reference to Goldsmith?

    If so, I’ll make a correction and attribution in the the body of my article. I want it to be accurate because this article of mine comes up first on any Google search.