Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer, journalist, and philosopher. He is best known for his novels, which include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).
Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. He became interested in literature at a young age, but did not become a full-time writer until the 1840s. His works often dealt with gritty subject matter inspired by nineteenth-century Russian society.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dostoyevsky was a controversial figure during his lifetime. He was sentenced to death for reading and circulating books critical of Tsarist Russia, only to have his sentence commuted at the list minute. Instead, he spent for years inside a Siberian prison camp.
This week’s quote—“Man is a creature who can get used to anything, and I believe that is the very best way of defining him”—is taken from from Dostoyevsky’s 1862 novel, The House of the Dead. The book describes in graphic detail the horrors of Russian penal system through the eyes of a man who has been sentenced to ten years hard labor—subject matter undoubtedly inspired by Dostoyevsky’s own time in prison.
Yet, as the above quote suggests, physical and psychological pain were not enough to destroy Dostoyevsky’s spirit. Having survived his own time in Hell, he grew adamant that humans could overcome nearly any hardship if they kept a positive attitude.
I share Dostoyevsky’s unwavering belief in the power of the human spirit. While I haven’t personally endured the kind of suffering he did while in prison, I can think of countless examples of people who have. For example, Steve Callahan spent 76 days adrift at sea on a life raft before being rescued in the Caribbean only to rebound and sail again. What kept him alive? An unwavering belief that he would not only survive but thrive.
Ideally, there would never be any suffering or pain in life; unfortunately, that won’t be happening anytime soon. However, we can take a long look at how we respond to adversity. How do we react when things go badly?
I love traveling in part because it forces you to overcome difficult situations. To travel is to be resilient. And for the rest of your life you’ll have a rolodex of past successes to look back on whenever you begin questioning your ability to move achieve.
Hopefully you never experience anything close to the suffering that Dostoyevsky endured while in prison. I do hope you face adversity, however. I hope you get the opportunity to challenge your mind, body, and spirit, and prove to yourself that you have what it takes to thrive.
I publish a new travel quote ever week, right here. Do you have a particular one you'd like us to feature in the future? What do you think about this quotation? Let us know in the comments below!