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This Ralph lived and died more than 130 years ago but his works still hold sway even to this day as he remains a source of inspiration to many people. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes will not only reveal the secrets of success to you but also open your eyes to the need for self-reliance.

Born on the 25th of May 1803, Emerson is credited as the leader of the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was also one of those that took American literature to a great height being an essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet. Considered to be the proponent of individualism, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a minister appointed to the Old Second Church in his native city but after some time, he lost interest in preaching. This was even worsened by the death of his wife who died of tuberculosis resulting in Emerson’s outright resignation from pastoral work in 1831. After he abandoned the church, he formulated the philosophical movement known as transcendentalism.

He spread his thoughts widely via several published essays in addition to speaking in over 1,500 public lectures in different cities of the United States of America. Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series which are his first two essay collections are representations of the core of his thinking. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes which touch on different areas of life also portray his philosophies vastly regarded as a source of inspiration and motivation.

101 Greatest Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Quotes

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

2. The first wealth is health.

3. The years teach much which the days never know.

4. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

5. Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.

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

7. We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can.

8. Public opinion, I am sorry to say, will bear a great deal of nonsense. There is scarcely any absurdity so gross, whether in religion, politics, science or manners, which it will not bear.

9. He who has put forth his total strength in fit actions has the richest return of wisdom.

10. A man is what he thinks about all day long.

11. Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre.

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

13. The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.

14. Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising up every time we fall.

15. This world belongs to the energetic.

16. 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.

17. Do what we can, summer will have its flies: if we walk in the woods, we must feed mosquitos: if we go a-fishing, we must expect a wet coat.

18. Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend.

19. It is the duty of men to judge men only by their actions. Our faculties furnish us with no means of arriving at the motive, the character, the secret self. We call the tree good from its fruits, and the man, from his works.

20. Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.

21. You shall have joy, or you shall have power, said God; you shall not have both.

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

23. Hitch your wagon to a star.

24.Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

25. Thought is the seed of action.

26. The invariable mark of a dream is to see it come true.

27. Every really able man, in whatever direction he work,—a man of large affairs, an inventor, a statesman, an orator, a poet, a painter,—if you talk sincerely with him, considers his work, however much admired, as far short of what it should be.

28. We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

29. The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

30. Beware what you set your heart upon. For it surely shall be yours.

31. Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.

32. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

33. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

34. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.

35. Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self.

36. 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 gave only an extemporaneous, half possession.

37. The dull pray; the geniuses are light mockers.

38. Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.

39. An original sentence, a step forward, is worth more than all the censures.

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

41. A great man is always willing to be little.

42. Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

43. What you are comes to you.

44. Imitation is suicide.

45. 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.

46. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment. The great moments of history are the facilities of performance through the strength of ideas, as the works of genius and religion.

47. People only see what they are prepared to see.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes
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48. People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

49. Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.

50. Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.

51. Our strength grows out of our weakness.

52. The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.

53. The earth laughs in flowers.

54. The one prudence in life is concentration.

55. Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.

56. 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, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object.

57. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.

58. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.

59. People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

60. Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

61. Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

62. It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

63. 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 have lived, this is to have succeeded.

64. Valor consists in the power of self-recovery.

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

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66. ‘Tis not important how the hero does this or that, but what he is.

67. Violence is not power, but the absence of power.

68. Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

69. For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

70. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

71. Every artist was first an amateur.

72. God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. Always, always, always, always, always do what you are afraid to do. Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.

73. Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.

74. Life is a progress and not a station.

75. But genius looks forward. The eyes of men are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead. Man hopes.

See Also: 50 Notable Genghis Khan Quotes About Life, War, and Leadership

76. It will never make any difference to a hero what the laws are. His greatness will shine and accomplish itself unto the end, whether they second him or not.

77. Go put your creed into the deed, nor speak with double tongue.

78. 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

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

80. A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

81. Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.

82. We walk alone in the world. Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables.

83. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

84. Great men exist that there may be greater men.

85. Each man has his own vocation; his talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him.

86. Work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of chance.

87. Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.

88. Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.

89. We are always getting ready to live but never living.

90. Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.

91. An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

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

93. Life is a journey, not a destination.

94. Do the thing and you will have the power.

95. 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; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

96. Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

97. Everything in the universe goes by indirection. There are no straight lines.

98. No man thoroughly understands a truth until he has contended against it…

99. And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

100. Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

101. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

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