William James

William James

William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labeled him the "Father of American psychology".

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Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

To be a real philosopher all that is necessary is to hate someone else's type of thinking.

Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.

If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.

An idea to be suggestive must come to the individual with the force of revelation.

Belief creates the actual fact.

Every man, who possibly can, should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not.

Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.

The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.

Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.

The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour.

Many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

The hell to be endured hereafter of which theology tells is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioned our characters in the wrong way.

Be willing to have it so. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

If you want a quality act as if you already had it.

Knowledge about life is one thing, effective occupation of a place in life with its dynamic currents passing through your being is another.

There must be something solemn serious and tender about any attitude which we denominate religious. If glad it must not grin or snicker, if sad it must not scream or curse.

A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him.

We are doomed to cling to a life even while we find it unendurable.

What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man in fact) craves most is praise although the philosophers generally call it recognition!

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true.

Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.

The god whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively a God who does a wholesale not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.

Whatever universe a professor believes in must at any rate be a universe that lends itself to lengthy discourse. A universe definable in two sentences is something for which the professorial intellect has no use. No faith in anything of that cheap kind!

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.

If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities it becomes sick.

The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths.

The world we see, that seems so insane, is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.

Individuality is founded in feeling, and the recesses of feeling the darker blinder strata of character are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making and directly perceive how events happen and how work is actually done.

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do and that is to contradict other philosophers.

Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act look feel successful conduct yourself accordingly and you will be amazed at the positive results.

I will act as if what I do makes a difference.

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which more than anything else will affect its successful outcome.

We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.

Truth is what works.

If you care enough for a result you will most certainly attain it.

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.

It is wrong always everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a man who deserves one.

Where quality is the thing sought after the thing of supreme quality is cheap whatever the price one has to pay for it.

The world is all the richer for having a devil in it so long as we keep our foot upon his neck.

Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.

We don't laugh because we're happy - we're happy because we laugh.

Metaphysics means nothing but an unusually obstinate effort to think clearly.

If the grace of God miraculously operates it probably operates through the subliminal door.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.

In business for yourself not by yourself.

To spend life for something which outlasts it.

One hearty laugh together will bring enemies into a closer communion of heart than hours spent on both sides in inward wrestling with the mental demon of uncharitable feeling.

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link and life is after all a chain.

The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.

If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system.

There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man's lack of faith in his true Self.

Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings.

'Pure experience' is the name I gave to the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual categories.

The sovereign cure for worry is prayer.

Those thoughts are truth which guide us to beneficial interaction with sensible particulars as they occur whether they copy these in advance or not.

An act has no ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several all equally possible.

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.

I don't sing because I'm happy, I'm happy because I sing.

In the dim background of mind we know what we ought to be doing but somehow we cannot start.

Time itself comes in drops.

Do something everyday for no other reason than you would rather not do it so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.

Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.

There is an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness and their companionship in the saintly life need in no way occasion surprise.

Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference.

Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.

Man lives for science as well as bread.

Truth lives in fact for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass so long as nothing challenges them just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them.

Genius... means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.

This life is worth living we can say since it is what we make it.

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.

Pessimism leads to weakness optimism to power.

Our esteem for facts has not neutralized in us all religiousness. It is itself almost religious. Our scientific temper is devout.

Wisdom is learning what to overlook.

To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.

Action may not bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

How to gain how to keep how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do and of all they are willing to endure.

Our faith is faith in someone else's faith and in the greatest matters this is most the case.

To be conscious means not simply to be but to be reported known to have awareness of one's being added to that being.

Our normal waking consciousness rational consciousness as we call it is but one special type of consciousness whilst all about it parted from it by the filmiest of screens there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.

The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.

The 'I think' which Kant said must be able to accompany all my objects is the 'I breathe' which actually does accompany them.

Action seems to follow feeling but really action and feeling go together, and by regulating the action which is under the more direct control of the will we can indirectly regulate the feeling which is not.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.

We never fully grasp the import of any true statement until we have a clear notion of what the opposite untrue statement would be.

Compared to what we ought to be we are half awake.

The ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives.

It is well for the world that in most of us by the age of thirty the character has set like plaster and will never soften again.

To be radical an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced.

Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf.

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess and no matter how good one's sentiments may be if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act one's character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.