This study explored factors that influence self-care from the perspective of individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Seven focus groups were held with individuals who had physician diagnosed COPD and experienced daily symptoms that limited activities. Forty-two subjects participated in the study. All sessions were audiotaped, transcribed and coded independently. The main theme identified was surviving COPD: the context for living and the two sub-themes identified were adjusting physically and emotionally to COPD. Participants discussed their self-care practices within the context of the purpose and meaning of life. Although participants experienced major physical limitations, the issues highlighted were those of individuals striving to survive with COPD and to hold on to some quality of life through adjusting physically and emotionally. Individuals with COPD have developed strategies to adapt to the disease, compensate for limitations, and integrate self-care activities for managing COPD into their daily routine. Health professionals should use approaches that support the whole needs of the individual to achieve the best quality of life for individuals with COPD and their families.