I was scrolling through a collection of memes, pics, and gifs and stumbled on a funny quote “when life hands you lemons, ask for limes instead. Now ask life for tequila and triple sec. Now thank life for giving you margaritas.”

woman holding smiley face emoji baloon

Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

After the initial hilarity, I fell into a rabbit hole of quirky variations to the age-old saying, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” One thing that stood out for me was that these people took a cliche life quote, interpreted it the way they wanted, and created hilarious masterpieces from it. Ironically, the exact thing the quote means. These quirky pieces now appear on quote posters, funny shirts, birthday cards, DIY art prints, wall art for wall decor, and home decor sold on Zazzle, Etsy, and Amazon. Talk about making lemonades!

When Life Gives You Lemons Memes

when life gives you lemon meme 1

Photo from Pinterest

when life gives you lemons meme 2

Photo from Dopl3r

when life gives you lemons meme 3

Photo from Quick Meme

When Life Gives You Lemons Meaning

The first use of the quote can be traced back to 1915 when Christian anarchist writer known as Elbert Hubbard published an obituary for a dwarf actor, Marshall Pinckney Wilder. The obituary, titled The King of Jesters, was a tribute to Wilder’s positive attitude and success, despite his shortcomings and disability.

Hubbard wrote, “He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that fate gave him and started a lemonade stand.”

The quote appeared again in Dale Carnegie’s 1948 book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, where he wrote, “if you have a lemon, make lemonade.” Interestingly, Dale Carnegie credited his own version of the saying to the genius of Julius Rosenwald. Dale Carnegie popularized the quote, which is probably the reason why modern authors attribute the saying to him.

Creator of saying asides, we can infer what these gentlemen meant by the quote. Lemons generally have an unpleasant taste. It’s hard to suck on a lemon without wincing or souring up – the viral “lemon challenge” proves that. Typically, any expression that involves “lemon” describes something negative that sours you up.

Lemonade, on the other hand, is a delicious and refreshing beverage. It is hard to believe that this refreshment is a direct product of sour lemons that nobody wants. Lemons are unpleasant, yet someone saw its potential and decided to sweeten it up a little bit to create a beverage. Whoever that is, deserves an award.

hand holding a glass of lemonade on a porch

Photo by Tania pereira on Unsplash

The “when life gives you lemons” quote suggests that life will put you in a difficult situation. When that happens, your best bet is to find optimism in the face of adversity and turn that situation into your advantage. The long and short of the saying is that when you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, look on the bright side of things and make the best of it. Check out my motivational quotes for work to find motivation in difficult situations.

Why Should the Quote Be Your Philosophy?

Some things are beyond your control; you have to learn how to choose your battles and conserve your energy for when it matters.

If you play the video game Portal, you may have heard the character Cave Johnson say, “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don’t want your damn lemons; what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons!”

As funny as this is, you can see the ridiculousness involved. Life has no manager you can air your grievances to. You certainly cannot return life’s lemons – figuratively or not. You are going to run yourself ragged trying to change things that you have no control over.

Here is a real-life application of the quote that we have come across numerous times. Let’s assume that someone breaks his leg and ends up in the hospital. Broken bones take a long time to heal, and that person will be stuck wearing an ugly white cast for months until it heals. That’s life handing them lemons.

It is natural to get angry and frustrated at this point. Because not only are they in pain from their broken bones, they will be immobilized and helpless for a while. Unless the person can magically heal bones or grow new ones overnight, there is nothing much they can do except to wait.

While waiting for the bone to heal, visiting family, friends, and well-wishers can use the blank cast as a graffiti poster or create colorful, artistic masterpieces. That’s making lemonade from the lemons that life handed you.

People with this kind of mindset have a “glass half full” approach to life. Being optimistic, even in the face of adversity, will help you cope better and adjust to difficult life events. You can experience improved life satisfaction, self-esteem, and well-being. This skill is also particularly useful in helping you become better at problem-solving.

How to Make the Best Out of Your Situation

woman on street with fingers crossed

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

1. Remain calm

One of the first steps to take when life hits you with a curveball is to remain calm. Understand that panic is not an option, despite the issues happening in your life. In fact, mindless panic can cause you to make the wrong decisions, worsening your situation. Find a place where you can get much-needed isolation for a quiet time. Take deep breaths to center yourself and then think about what’s going on and how you’re going to solve it.

2. Maintain a grateful heart

No matter what’s going on in your life, there are still plenty of things to be grateful for if you think deeply. Although this might be tough initially, as you spend some time thinking of the little good things going on in your life, you will realize that there’s a lot to be grateful for. Gratitude will uplift your mood and help you feel more in control of your life.

3. Let all your reactions be positive

Going through life’s challenges while maintaining a positive mentality is what you can control. There may be external influences, but how you choose to deal with it is entirely up to you how. When life sucks and throws a wrench in your path, don’t react negatively. Instead, say to yourself that this shall pass away. Responding in a negative would only put you in a more terrible state.

4. Accept things just as they are

You don’t overcome a challenge by pushing it away and pretending it doesn’t exist; it gets even worse when you do so. Admitting the status of any situation you find yourself in makes it even less painful. But when you deny your feelings, you make matters worse.

5. Step out to let some steam off

It may sound simplistic, but communing with nature has a way of putting things into perspective for you. While it might not solve your immediate problem, it helps you gain a sense of control and feel better about yourself.

6. Practice meditation

Daily meditation will keep you grounded and focused on the things that matter. When faced with a challenge, take a step back to meditate. Allow the problems blow over you without consuming. When life throws you lemons, meditation is your standby syrup/sugar water.

7. Unleash the warrior within

Rather than running away from your problems and challenges, face them squarely. This sort of attitude and approach sort of unleashes the warrior within your spirit. It’s times like this that test your inner mettle. When life pushes you to the wall, that’s when you can tell the kind of inner strength you have. Even if you feel overwhelmed and tempted to run away from your problems, understand that running away from your problems won’t solve the problem either.

Other Motivational Quotes About Lemons

“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…add vodka, and have a party.” – Susie Smith.

“When life gives you lemons, take out the salt and the shot-glasses and fill them up with tequila.” – Teodora Kostova.

“When Life gives you lemons, make sure you know whose eyes you need to squeeze them into.” – Grace Helbig.

“When life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka and have a party.” – Ron White.

“When life gives you lemons, freeze them, and use them to throw at your enemies using some sort of trebuchet.” – Jenny Lawson.

“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice, and leave the world wondering how you did it.” – Mitch Griego.

“When life gives you lemons, ask it for sugar and water too. Otherwise, your final product would be some acidic lemon juice!” – Priyavrat Gupta.

If a loved one is in a rough patch and needs a pick me up, you can write these lemons quotes on “get well soon” cards using pretty, high-quality typography. They would appreciate the hilarity of the gesture and also feel encouraged to look on the bright side and make the best out of their situation.