Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

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What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

Always do what you are afraid to do.

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

For every minute you remain angry you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.

Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.

Children are all foreigners.

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force - that thoughts rule the world.

Each age it is found must write its own books, or rather each generation for the next succeeding.

There are other measures of self-respect for a man than the number of clean shirts he puts on every day.

Nature hates calculators.

Great hearts steadily send forth the secret forces that incessantly draw great events.

Every hero becomes a bore at last.

Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.

We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.

Earth laughs in flowers.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Great men, or men of great gifts, you shall easily find, but symmetrical men never.

Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

As soon as there is life, there is danger.

One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.

Trust men and they will be true to you, treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and stare.

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.

Beauty is an outward gift which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.

America is another name for opportunity.

Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.

Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.

I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.

Hitch your wagon to a star.

Men are what their mothers made them.

For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.

Every book is a quotation, and every house is a quotation out of all forests and mines and stone quarries, and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

Words are also actions and actions are a kind of words.

A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best, but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.

A great man is always willing to be little.

The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.

You cannot do a kindness too soon for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Every artist was first an amateur.

Our faith comes in moments, our vice is habitual.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising up every time we fail.

Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.

There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.

The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain.

Wisdom has its root in goodness not goodness its root in wisdom.

All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.

Our best thoughts come from others.

There is always safety in valor.

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

In the morning a man walks with his whole body, in the evening only with his legs.

Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.

The ancestor of every action is a thought.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

The earth laughs in flowers.

Every wall is a door.

The reason why men do not obey us is because they see the mud at the bottom of our eye.

Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.

The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.

The faith that stands on authority is not faith.

The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.

I have no hostility to nature but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.

Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.

It is my desire in the office of a Christian minister to do nothing which I cannot do with my whole heart. Having said this I have said all.

The world is all gates all opportunities strings of tension waiting to be struck.

Win as if you were used to it lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.

Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old but of the natural.

There is a blessed necessity by which the interest of men is always driving them to the right, and again making all crime mean and ugly.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.

People disparage knowing and the intellectual life and urge doing. I am content with knowing if only I could know.

Every man is a consumer and ought to be a producer. He is by constitution expensive and needs to be rich.

We are by nature observers and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.

Revolutions go not backward.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

Every man has his own courage and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.

Every sentence spoken by Napoleon and every line of his writing deserves reading as it is the sense of France.

The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.

Money often costs too much.

No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.

I like the silent church before the service begins better than any preaching.

Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.

Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.

The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.

We acquire the strength we have overcome.

The reward of a thing well done is having done it.

Little minds have little worries big minds have no time for worries.

No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.

Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.

The civilized man has built a coach but has lost the use of his feet.

A man is a method a progressive arrangement, a selecting principle gathering his like to him, wherever he goes.

Pictures must not be too picturesque.

Power and speed be hands and feet.

Men love to wonder and that is the seed of science.

It is not length of life but depth of life.

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.

As a cure for worrying work is better than whiskey.

Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.

In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.

The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

The highest revelation is that God is in every man.

We are rich only through what we give and poor only through what we refuse.

There is no chance and anarchy in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere.

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.

People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

People only see what they are prepared to see.

Happy is the hearing man, unhappy the speaking man.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.

Getting old is a fascination thing. The older you get the older you want to get.

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snow-storm. We wake from one dream into another dream.

The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all.

People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

Truth is beautiful without doubt, but so are lies.

We must be our own before we can be another's.

Every fact is related on one side to sensation and on the other to morals. The game of thought is on the appearance of one of these two sides to find the other: given the upper to find the under side.

As we grow old the beauty steals inward.

Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.

We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

The best effort of a fine person is felt after we have left their presence.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow.

The reason why the world lacks unity and lies broken and in heaps is because man is disunited with himself.

The years teach much which the days never know.

When nature has work to be done she creates a genius to do it.

Who hears me who understands me becomes mine a possession for all time.

Make yourself necessary to somebody.

Mysticism is the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.

We are a puny and fickle folk. Avarice hesitation and following are our diseases.

This time like all times is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.

What we seek we shall find, what we flee from flees from us.

All diseases run into one old age.

Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.

People that seem so glorious are all show, underneath they are like everyone else.

To be great is to be misunderstood.

Every known fact in natural science was divined by the presentiment of somebody before it was actually verified.

Every spirit makes its house and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.

Reality is a sliding door.

As long as a man stands in his own way everything seems to be in his way.

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Death comes to all but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.

Nothing external to you has any power over you.

Men's actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.

A man is the whole encyclopedia of facts.

Give a boy address and accomplishments and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes where he goes.

Genius always finds itself a century too early.

If the tongue had not been framed for articulation man would still be a beast in the forest.

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired so long as we can see far enough.

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

There is a tendency for things to right themselves.

Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.

God enters by a private door into every individual.

It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.

A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles.

The value of a dollar is social as it is created by society.

It is a fact often observed that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion who cannot write well under other circumstances.

If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground.

Every burned book enlightens the world.

Every experiment by multitudes or by individuals that has a sensual and selfish aim will fail.

People with great gifts are easy to find but symmetrical and balanced ones never.

Why need I volumes if one word suffice?

Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.

Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.

God screens us evermore from premature ideas.

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants and to serve them one's self?

Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others.

Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.

With the past I have nothing to do, nor with the future. I live now.

All mankind love a lover.

Use what language you will you can never say anything but what you are.

For everything you have missed you have gained something else and for everything you gain you lose something else.

O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book either without the other is naught.

We do not yet possess ourselves and we know at the same time that we are much more.

Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.

The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity but in being uninteresting.

The method of nature: who could ever analyze it?

Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.

Doing well is the result of doing good. That's what capitalism is all about.

When we quarrel how we wish we had been blameless.

Friendship like the immortality of the soul is too good to be believed.

Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.

Science does not know its debt to imagination.

The first wealth is health.

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.

We are symbols and inhabit symbols.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know.

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.

What you are comes to you.

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.

Beauty without expression is boring.

A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.

In every society some men are born to rule and some to advise.

Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated.

Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.

There is more difference in the quality of our pleasures than in the amount.

Manners require time and nothing is more vulgar than haste.

Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it else it is none.

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

It was high counsel that I once heard given to a young person 'always do what you are afraid to do.'

A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.

Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.

Every man I meet is in some way my superior.

We see God face to face every hour and know the savor of Nature.

A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent life shall be longer and shall pass into the immortal as gently as we awake from dreams.

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.

Let us be silent that we may hear the whispers of the gods.

The martyr cannot be dishonored. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame, every prison a more illustrious abode.

We are wiser than we know.

Do not go where the path may lead go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

If a man can... make a better mousetrap the world will make a beaten path to his door.

Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.

I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.

A good indignation brings out all one's powers.

In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.

Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.

Peace cannot be achieved through violence it can only be attained through understanding.

We are always getting ready to live but never living.

It is the quality of the moment not the number of days or events or of actors that imports.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Do the thing we fear and death of fear is certain.

The search after the great men is the dream of youth and the most serious occupation of manhood.

A man in debt is so far a slave.

Good men must not obey the laws too well.