Quote Origin: One Day in Retrospect the Years of Struggle Will Strike You As the Most Beautiful

Sigmund Freud? C. G. Jung? Apocryphal?

Quote Investigator®
3 min readSep 24


A person climbing a cliff from Unsplash

Question for Quote Investigator: Apparently, a famous psychoanalyst once said that when one looks back at one’s life the periods of struggle will be considered the most beautiful. Do you know whether something like this was said by Sigmund Freud or C. G. Jung?

Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1907 psychotherapist Sigmund Freud wrote a letter to his colleague C. G. Jung in which he encouraged Jung to continue his efforts despite opposition. Freud wished to found a journal which would be called “Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI

Let us found our journal. People will grumble, buy and read it. One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.

Freud penned the original statement in German. The translation above by Tania and James Stern appeared in the “Letters of Sigmund Freud” in 1960.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1978 the following entry appeared in “The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations” compiled by Edward F. Murphy:²

One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.
Sigmund Freud, The Letters of Sigmund Freud

In 1996 the quotation appeared in “The Fairview Guide To Positive Quotations” compiled by John Cook. The words were ascribed to Freud without a citation.³

In conclusion, Sigmund Freud deserves credit for this quotation. He employed it in a 1907 letter to C. G. Jung. The English rendering was created by Tania and James Stern.

Image Notes: Picture of a person climbing a cliff from Patrick Hodskins at Unsplash. The image has been cropped.

Acknowledgement: Great thanks to Jon Miltimore who wrote an article that referred to this quotation. Miltimore searched Wikiquote and the Quote Investigator website for the quotation and found nothing relevant. Miltimore also asked ChatGPT which replied that the quotation was “commonly attributed to Sigmund Freud. However, there is no concrete evidence that he actually said or wrote these words.” Now, a search at the Quote Investigator website will find this webpage of helpful information.

[1] 1960, Letters of Sigmund Freud, Selected and edited by Ernst L. Freud, Translated by Tania and James Stern, Letter Number 127, Letter from: Sigmund Freud, Letter to: C. G. Jung, Letter location: Rome, Date: September 19, 1907, Start Page 257, Quote Page 258, Basic Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

[2] 1978 Copyright, The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations by Edward F. Murphy, Topic: Struggle, Quote Page 543, Column 1, Crown Publishers, New York. (Verified with scans)

[3] 1996, The Fairview Guide To Positive Quotations, Compiled by John Cook, Part 2: Living One Day at a Time, Chapter: Difficult Days, Topic: Someday, We’ll Look Back and Things Won’t Seem As Difficult As They Do Now, Quote Page 256, Column 2, Fairview Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Verified with scans)



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Garson O'Toole specializes in tracing quotations. He operates the QuoteInvestigator.com website which receives more than 4 million visitors per year