Philosophers / Thinkers

108 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes (SELF-RELIANCE)

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Born on 25 May 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American Transcendentalist, poet, philosopher, essayist, and lecturer … best known for his essay, ‘Self-Reliance,’ and for leading the New England Transcendentalism movement in the mid-19th century.

Emerson’s work influence generations of Americans. Even big names such as Henry David Thoreau (Emerson’s Mentee) to John Dewey and Friedrich Nietzsche in Europe took up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity.

Many of Emerson’s important essays were initially written as lectures and then revised for print.

His first collections of essays were written during his most fertile period from the 1830s to the mid-1840s that includes well-known essays such as “Self-Reliance“, “The Over-Soul“, “Circles“, “The Poet“, “Experience“, and Together with “Nature.”

The first collect represents the core of Emerson’s thinking and the development of certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, and the ability for mankind to realize almost anything.

Further reading:

Below are the best Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes so you can gain valuable and powerful wisdom from the father of Transcendentalism.

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Top 21 Most Famous Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt 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.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is a journey, not a destination.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
A man is what he thinks about all day long.
A man is what he thinks about all day long.
What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
The years teach much which the days never know.
The years teach much which the days never know.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.
Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.
Always do what you are afraid to do.
Always do what you are afraid to do.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.
People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.
I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.
I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.
To be great is to be misunderstood.
To be great is to be misunderstood.

57 Best Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Self-reliant and Success

Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.
Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.
Self-trust is the first secret of success.
Self-trust is the first secret of success.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.
Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.

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.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.
Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
Beware what you set your heart upon. For it surely shall be yours.
Beware what you set your heart upon. For it surely shall be yours.

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.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.
Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.
It is not the length of life, but the depth.
It is not the length of life, but the depth.
Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.
Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.
Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.
Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
Every artist was first an amateur.
Every artist was first an amateur.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
The earth laughs in flowers.
The earth laughs in flowers.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
A great man is always willing to be little.
A great man is always willing to be little.
Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.

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.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
It is easy to live for others, everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.
It is easy to live for others, everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.
A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.
We acquire the strength we have overcome.
We acquire the strength we have overcome.
Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Character is higher than intellect… A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.
Character is higher than intellect… A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.
In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.
In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
Beauty without expression is boring.
Beauty without expression is boring.

When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of God.
Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of God.
Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
The ancestor of every action is a thought.
The ancestor of every action is a thought.
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.
People only see what they are prepared to see.
People only see what they are prepared to see.
Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.
Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.

30 Highly Inspirational Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes to Empower You

That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.
That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.
In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.
Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend.
Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend.
When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.
When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.
Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.
Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speak the truth, and all nature and all spirits help you with unexpected furtherance.
Speak the truth, and all nature and all spirits help you with unexpected furtherance.
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
The secret in education lies in respecting the student.
The secret in education lies in respecting the student.
Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.
Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.
Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.
Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.
Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
We must be our own before we can be another’s.
We must be our own before we can be another’s.
Life is a series of surprises and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not.
Life is a series of surprises and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not.
Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.
Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.
Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Nothing external to you has any power over you.
Nothing external to you has any power over you.
Happy will the house be in which the relationships are formed from character.
Happy will the house be in which the relationships are formed from character. Also read: Family Quotes
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
Nature and Books belong to the eyes that see them.
Nature and Books belong to the eyes that see them.
The first wealth is health.
The first wealth is health.

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