William James Quotes

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

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

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

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

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Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

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Sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.

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

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

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

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Not that I would not, if I could, be both handsome and fat and well-dressed and a great athlete, and make a million a year; be a wit, a bon-vivant, and a lady-killer, as well as a philosopher; a philanthropist, statesman, warrior, and African explorer, as well as a 'tone-poet' and saint. But the thing is simply impossible. The millionaire's work would run counter to the saint's; the bon-vivant and the philanthropist would trip each other up; and the philosopher and the lady-killer could not well keep house in the same tenement of clay. So the seeker of his truest, strongest, deepest self must review the list carefully, and pick out the one on which to stake his salvation.

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Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that 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. Asceticism of this sort is like the insurance which a man pays on his house and goods. The tax does him no good at the time, and possibly may never bring him a return. But if the fire does come, his having paid it will be his salvation from ruin. So with the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.

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