I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. – Theodore Roosevelt


The ease of life is quite a subjective term. Some people believe that getting all the ease in life is all about financial freedom, while others believe it is about not facing any difficulties. However, Former American President, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well”. When most desire a life that is easy, only a few are making an effort to live a life well worth it. Some are just too spoiled while others are undertaking responsibilities. However, a life worth it, is a life led well with difficulties, as suggested by Theodore Roosevelt. 

Theodore Roosevelt

About Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th President of the United States between 1901 and 1909. Commonly known as Teddy, Roosevelt has remained an active politician in the history of America with several contributions to the country. For his outstanding works, he is known as one of the greatest politicians in the history of America. Roosevelt held his election campaigns with the slogans of victory, peace, and prosperity. Many believe that during this reign, Roosevelt focused on these slogans and tried to achieve them for the well-being of the United States of America. 

Roosevelt also won the Nobel Peace Prize because he acted as a broker to end the Russo-Japanese War. Some of the best policies of Roosevelt include regulating food and drugs, regularizing railroads, breaking trusts, and various types of domestic policies. Throughout his political era, he faced several major problems and resistance from different people. For this reason, his quote about envy and life is quite relatable to his political life. 

Origin of this Quote

The quote “I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well” was extracted from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 address in Des Moines, Iowa. In the two years before this address, Theodore Roosevelt had won the 1994 presidential elections. He created the first regulatory agencies for the government and inaugurated the construction of the Panama Canal. When his term ended in 1909, he left for a hunting safari. He returned in 1910 and then gave the address with this iconic quote in Iowa.

Problem and Solution

Meaning of This Quote

There are different aspects highlighted about life, envy, and people in this quote. Let’s take a closer look at them one by one.

You Learn After Hardships

The foremost meaning of this quote is that a person only learns well once he undergoes different types of hardships in his life. A person that has not seen a lot of tough aspects is neither flexible nor adaptable to the randomness in life. Only those who learn the real lessons try out something difficult, fail, and get back up by learning something new and better. 

We can understand this further with the help of an example. A person who was born rich was full of friends and had no domestic problems as well lived a great life for a particular period. However, did he learn the meaning of life? No. He didn’t learn that people misuse the rich, life is not just about money, friends are temporary, and other important hard lessons. Eventually someday, if he ever gets to see the problems, he won’t be able to cope with them because he hasn’t seen the other life. 

On the other hand, a person who was born into a struggling family faced different types of financial troubles. He had trouble getting along with people and several other problems too. The result? He has learned what to do and what not to do. He was able to learn the difference between right and wrong. He is flexible and will be able to cope even if the world deserts him. Why? Because he will begin from right where he started initially. This point is quite important to understand because many people don’t want to struggle but just want to see the outcomes. 

Easy Life is Hard Life 

If a person always craves ease, he is not making his life easier, rather he is making his own life difficult by making him rigid to the ease of life. On the other hand, people who see the hardships in life, take up new challenges, and work hard in their lives, are adaptable and adjustable towards their life. The easy life may seem easy only until you are supported and once life tells you to stand up on your own, you might lose it. 

For example, youngsters with parents constantly supporting them financially may seem like it is an easy life and for this reason, they don’t do well in academics sometimes. They may also not learn a skill because they don’t see the need for one. Ultimately, they are creating hardship for themselves. Why? Because the day their parents are no longer supporting these kids, they will find it difficult to do jobs, learn a skill, and earn money. Earning money will be particularly difficult because they have never had to do work to get it. Therefore, Easy Life = Hard Life. 

On the other hand, someone who has seen problems, or a hard life, is most likely making an effort to get out of it. He may be trying out different ways to do so. He will be independent and not dependent on others. He may feel like he is the one doing the extra hard work but this hard work is what will actually create ease for him in the long run. It will not destroy his habits or form poor ones. Therefore, Hard Life = Easy Life. 

A picture showing an illustration of success

The World Praises Success

Seeing such a quote coming from a well-established person like Theodore Roosevelt, a thought comes to mind. A highly accomplished person who is remembered by the world in Golden Words is praising a person who is struggling. Theodore Roosevelt is “envying” a person who has lived a tough life. He focused specifically on this because he wanted to explain the point that the world praises success and hard work. Society does not desire lazy people or the ones who are not doing anything productive. 

The world praises the one who did hard work and attained success as compared to the one who got it pre-made. We can consider the example of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and even Theodore Roosevelt himself. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, developed several programs, was a dropout, and faced many problems in his life. However, with consistent hard work, today, he is one of the richest people on the planet. Similarly, Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc, developed the first iPhone in his garage. With limited resources, he worked hard to attain success. The one who went through a difficult time went on to have an easy time later on. 


We can conclude that life is not perfect for anyone. Even the best have their own problems and even the worst have their charms. However, the life of a person who has faced several difficulties has learned far more than the one who has not faced the difficulties in his life. Such a person is not flexible and could face several problems in his life. For this reason, people should not only look for ease in life but also take up different types of challenges and accept them the way they are. A quote by Edward J. Stieglitz also focuses on this point made by Theodore Roosevelt.


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