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150 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes (A Collection Of His Best)

150 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes (A Collection Of His Best)

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s magical words have shaped some of the most amazing essays or poems ever written, such as “Self-reliance,” “The American Scholar,” “Harvard Divinity School Address,” “The Bell,” “The Snow Storm,” and so on.

If you were looking for some inspiration for the day or are a fan of his, you are in the right place, as here you will find iconic quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings.

Emerson was an influential poet, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, religious minister, leader of the Transcendentalist movement, and a firm supporter of the abolitionist movement.

Quite a career, isn’t it? Let’s look a bit more into it.

The transcendentalist movement was a philosophical movement that had as a core belief the importance of nature and the inherent goodness of human beings. 

Transcendentalists believe that human beings are naturally good and pure-hearted, but they are corrupted by society and its institutions. 

They also militated for each individual’s independence and considered that divine experience could be found in the day to day life. 

Through his writings and preaches, Emerson tried to speak about transcendentalist values, as well as the injustice of slavery. 

He tackled some of the most controversial topics of that time and did his best to transform the society he lived in into a better, more loving, and compassionate one. 

I believe that even though Emerson was an exponential figure of the 19th century (quite a while ago), he is still an inspiration and a great example up until today. 

He dedicated his life to doing good, and for this, I will always consider him someone to look up to. 

Thus, I invite you to have a look at the following 150 amazing Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes:

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes to Elevate Your Mind and Spirit

Image of one of Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

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

2. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

3. “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

4. “Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

5. “Sow a thought, and you reap an action; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

6. “Speak what you think today in hard words, and tomorrow, speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said today.”

7. “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..”

8. “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.”

9. “None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”

10. “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

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

12. “He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses.”

13. “I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

14. “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.”

15. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously.” 

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

17. “And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

18. “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.” 

19. “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

20. “Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”

21. “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.”

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

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23. “He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.”

24. “When you were born, you were crying, and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so, in the end, you're the one who is smiling, and everyone else is crying.”

25. “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

26. “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.”

27. “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can offer with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation, but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession.”

28. “Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them”

29. “Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much.”

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

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

32. “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.”

33. “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

Image of an inspiring quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

35. “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.”

36. “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.”

37. “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him.”

38. “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.”

39. “Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . . ”

40. “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

41. “I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier.”

42. “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret.”

43. “I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever only rejoices me and the heart appoints.”

44. “If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own.”

45. “I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”

46. “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, energetic, enthusiastic, and faithful, and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

47. “We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, colleges, and recitation -rooms, for ten or fifteen years and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.”

48. “My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it is genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.”

49. “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift, you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation, but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Most Inspiring Quotes That Are Short

Image of a short Ralph Waldo Emerson quote

50. “You are constantly invited to be what you are.”

51. “Trust your instinct until the end, even though you can give no reason.”

52. “Beware what you set your heart upon. For it surely shall be yours.”

53. “Every wall is a door.”

54. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

55. “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.”

56. “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”

57. “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”

58. “The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.”

59. “The reward of a thing well done is having done it.”

60. “Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

61. “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”

62. “Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world.”

63. “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”

64. “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

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

66. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

67. “Scatter joy!”

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68. “Even in the mud and scum of things, something always sings.”

69. “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine.”

70. “Of all the ways to lose a person, death is the kindest.”

71. “What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”

72. “It is easy to live for others; everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.”

73. “It is not the length of life, but the depth.”

74. “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.”

75. “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

76. “The First wealth is health.”

77. “Love, and you shall be loved.”

78. “We are always getting ready to live but never living.”

79. “Life is a series of surprises and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not.”

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

81. “Life consists of what man is thinking about all day.”

82. “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

83. “The world belongs to the energetic.”

84. “You become what you think about all day long.”

85. “Write it on your heart.That every day is the best day of the year.”

86. “Every artist was first an amateur.”

87. “Beauty without expression is boring.”

88. “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

89. “The years teach much. The days never know.”

90. “Fear always springs from ignorance.”

91. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

92. “What I need is someone who will make me do what I can.”

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

94. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

95. “Some books leave us free, and some books make us free.”

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

97. “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

98. “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”

99. “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

100. “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

101. “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

102. “The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

103. “Envy is ignorance; imitation is Suicide.”

104. “Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.”

105. “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.”

106. “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

107. “A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.”

108. “Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.”

Image of quote that says make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you - Ralph Waldo Emerson

109. “We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

110. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

111. “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

112. “To be great is to be misunderstood.”

113. “A great man is always willing to be little.”

114. “The earth laughs in flowers.”

115. “I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.”

116. “In order for one to learn the important lessons of life, one must first overcome a fear each day.”

117. “Nothing external to you has any power over you.”

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

119. “Nature and Books belong to the eyes that see them.”

120. “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

121. “Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.”

122. “People only see what they are prepared to see.”

123. “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”

124. “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”

125. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

126. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

127. “Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.”

128. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

129. “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Faith

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130. “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, Jesus, Luther, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

131. “The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger but for deliverance from fear.”

132. “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of God.”

133. “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.”

134. “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

135. “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.”

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

137. “Sorrow looks back; Worry looks around; Faith looks up.”

138. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

139. “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.”

140. “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Friendship

Image of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes on friendship

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

142. “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.”

143. “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.”

144. “When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the most solid things we can know.”

145. “Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.”

146. “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”

147. “In a library, we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.”

148. “Be good to your work, your word, and your friend.”

149. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

150. “I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.”

Which Is Your Favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote?

Emerson wrote a variety of life-changing essays and poems, as his lifelong mission was to send a positive message to the world and inspire people to be their best version. 

I made sure to select the best quotes I could find; however, if you know another really good one, share it with us in the comment section below! 

Also, we would love to find out which one of these Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes you liked the most!