Ralph Waldo Emerson is known for his inspiring and thought provoking contemplations on life. He was a leader of the transcendentalism movement and he championed the belief that both nature and man are good by default. His approach to the world was largely positive and the ways in which he wrote and spoke of the matters we face throughout life help create a sense of what is truly important.
Whenever I am feeling at odds with the world, I stop and read the words of Emerson. He claimed that the divine could be found in the natural world. Life, as we have created it, sometimes gets in the way of discovering what we are searching for. There is a tendency to overthink, overcomplicate, and distract ourselves from the answers right in front of us.
Emerson’s body of work can be seen as an attempt to reign in the ever-moving being that is humanity. There are times when it makes the most sense to stop and consider what we are doing before we act or react. Here are just a select few of his inspirational words.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“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.”
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
“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.”
“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”
“Always do what you are afraid to do.”
“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.”
“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.”