The statement was reported in the Cleveland Leader of Cleveland, Ohio, and the phrasing indicated that Garfield was referencing a saying that was already in circulation: 1
I remember the old man who said he had had a great many troubles in his life, but the worst of them never happened.
The same page uses another quote from Seneca, a Roman philosopher around Christ's time.
There is nothing so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness it is in your expecting evil before it arrives!
Seneca—Epistolae Ad Lucilium. XCVIII.
The trouble I have with these statements is that they imply that the troubles don't exist. Hardest thing for me was the fear of telling the 'bad' things because I had tried to tell and I wasn't believed. I wasn't afraid of some imagined fear but truly afraid that the same bad things would happen again. I accept that bad things happen. Ignoring them does not make them go away. Addressing problems and issues are essential part of living. Living in a fantasy of only positive things will be viewed is denying that ugly things happened, I survived, and I can learn from those experiences by acknowledging there existence. I prefer to refer to myself as realistically optimistic.