Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes
Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances....Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints, and gods use a short and positive speech.
Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody, and to that person whatever he says has an enhanced value.
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
There is no end to the sufficiency of character. It can afford to wait; it can do without what is called success.
Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
The sum of wisdom is, that the time is never lost that is devoted to work.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow.
The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it - so fine that we often are on the line and do not know it.
I look on that man as happy who, when there is a question of success, looks into his work for a reply.
A little integrity is better than any career.
No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.
Talent for talent's sake is a bauble and a show. Talent working with joy in the cause of universal truth lifts the possessor to new power as a benefactor.
In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.
A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life; he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.
That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.
The effects of opposition are wonderful. There are men who rise refreshed on hearing a threat - men to whom a crisis which intimidates and paralyzes the majority comes graceful and beloved as a bride.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.
Great men are they who see the spiritual is stronger than the material force, that thoughts rule the world.
A good intention clothes itself with power.
An individual has a healthy personality to the exact degree to which they have the propensity to look for the good in every situation.
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
The mass of men worry themselves into nameless graves while here and there a great unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality.
The first wealth is health.
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
People are always getting ready to live but never living.
Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
Work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance.
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Ideas must work though the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Marriage is the perfection which love aimed at, ignorant of what it sought.
That which we persist in doing becomes easier - not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.
When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this. The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.
Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories.
There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.
As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.
We sometimes meet an original gentleman, who, if manners had not existed, would have invented them.
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.
It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.
The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then?
Power is, in nature, the essential measure of right. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself.
A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not 'studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances. Let a Stoic open the resources of man and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations; that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries and customs out of the window, we pity him no more but thank and revere him;—and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor and make his name dear to all history.
Insist on yourself; never imitate.
That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.
Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
The reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long that they have come to esteem the religious, learned and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature. Especially he hates what he has if he see that it is accidental,—came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him and merely lies there because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man is, does always by necessity acquire, and what the man acquires is living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man breathes.
You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong.
Men suffer all their life long under the foolish superstition that they can be cheated. But it is as impossible for a man to be cheated by any one but himself, as for a thing to be and not to be at the same time. There is a third silent party to all our bargains. The nature and soul of things takes on itself the guaranty of the fulfilment of every contract, so that honest service cannot come to loss. If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more. Put God in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer The payment is withholden, the better for you; for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
It is the best of humanity, I think, that goes out to walk. In happy hours all affairs may be wisely postponed for this. Dr. Johnson said, 'Few men know how to take a walk,' and it is pretty certain that Dr. Johnson was not one of those few. It is a fine art; there are degrees of proficiency, and we distinguish the professors from the apprentices. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good-humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much. Good observers have the manners of trees and animals, and if they add words, it is only when words are better than silence. But a vain talker profanes the river and the forest, and is nothing like so good company as a dog.
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