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William James Quotes and Quotations


Be willing to have it so; acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
- William James | Adversity Quotes
Habit is the enormous flywheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision. Full half the time of such a man goes to the deciding, or regretting, of matters which ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist for his consciousness at all.
- William James | Habit and Tradition Quotes
Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.
- William James | Genius Quotes
As Charles Lamb says, there is nothing so nice as doing good by stealth and being found out by accident, so I now say it is even nicer to make heroic decisions and to be prevented by 'circumstances beyond your control' from ever trying to execute them.
- William James | Goodness and Giving Quotes
An unlearned carpenter of my acquaintance once said in my hearing: 'There is very little difference between one man and another, but what there is is very important.'
- William James | Homo Sapiens Quotes
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
- William James | Life Quotes
Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or on being.
The unrest which keeps the never-stopping clock metaphysics going is the thought that the non-existence of this world is just as possible as its existence.
- William James | Philosophy Quotes
Science must constantly be reminded that her purposes are not the only purposes and that the order of uniform causation which she has use for, and is therefore right in postulating, may be enveloped in a wider order, on which she has no claim at all.
So long as the anti-militarists propose no substitute for war's disciplinary function, no moral equivalent of war, analogous, as one might say, to the mechanical equivalent of hate, so long they fail to realize the full equities of the situation.
- William James | War Quotes
So far war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community, and until an equivalent discipline is organized, I believe that war must have its way.
- William James | War Quotes
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
- William James | Wisdom Quotes
Footnotes, the little dogs yapping at the heels of the text.
- William James | Writers and Writing Quotes
Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
- William James | Happiness Quotes
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequence of any misfortune.
- William James | Acceptance Quotes
Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendships and intimacies ... and yet they leave their friendships and intimacies with no cultivation, to grow as they will by the roadside, expecting them to "keep" by force of mere inertia.
- William James | Friendship Quotes
The first thing to learn in intercourse with others is non-interference with their own peculiar ways of being happy, provided those ways do not assume to interfere with ours.
- William James | Friendship Quotes
Most men's friendships are too inarticulate.
- William James | Friendship Quotes
The God of many men is little more than their court of appeal against the damnatory judgement passed on their failures by the opinion of the world.
- William James | God Quotes
Faith is one of the forces by which men live; the total absence of it means collapse.
- William James | Faith and Unity Quotes
The exercise of prayer, in those who habitually exert it, must be regarded by us doctors as the most adequate and normal of all the pacifiers of the mind and calmers of the nerves.
- William James | Prayer Quotes
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James | Self-Acceptance Quotes
Man lives by habits indeed, but what he lives for is thrill and excitements. ... From time immemorial war has been ... the supremely thrilling excitement.
- William James | Boring Days Quotes
Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact.
- William James | Positive Quotes
Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that ensures the successful outcome of our venture.
- William James | Positive Quotes
The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind.
- William James | Positive Quotes
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.
- William James | Positive Quotes
Each of us is in fact what he is almost exclusively by virtue of his imitative-ness.
- William James | Role Models Quotes
We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.
When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.
- William James | Decisions Quotes
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
- William James | Decisions Quotes
Every time a resolve or fine glow of feeling evaporates without bearing fruit, it is worse than a chance lost; it works to hinder future emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.
- William James | Instincts Quotes
Impulse without reason is not enough, and reason without impulse is a poor makeshift.
- William James | Instincts Quotes
Life is one long struggle between conclusions based on abstract ways of conceiving cases, and opposite conclusions prompted by our instinctive perception of them.
- William James | Instincts Quotes
The thinker philosophizes as the lover loves. Even were the consequences not only useless but harmful, he must obey his impulse.
- William James | Instincts Quotes
Seek out that particular mental attitude which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, "This is the real me," and when you have found that attitude, follow it.
- William James | Right Quotes
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
- William James | Goals Quotes
Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise.
It is only by risking ... that we live at all.
- William James | Risks Quotes
With mere good intentions hell is proverbially paved.
- William James | Getting Going Quotes
Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
- William James | Getting Going Quotes
The emotions are not always subject to reason ... but they are always subject to action. When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion, action will.
- William James | Getting Going Quotes
Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void.
- William James | Success Quotes
The exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess Success is our national disease.
- William James | Success Quotes
Men habitually use only a small part of the powers which they possess and which they might use under appropriate circumstances.
- William James | Adversity Quotes
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
- William James | Events Quotes
Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.
- William James | Peace Quotes
Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
- William James | Peace Quotes
An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of a revelation.
- William James | Ideas Quotes
The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man's nature.
- William James | Property Quotes
The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man's nature.
- William James | Property Quotes


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If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
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