ralph waldo emerson quotes

100+ Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Life, Love, and More

Famous American lecturer, poet, and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born on May 25th, 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. During his schooling, his intellectual talents and abilities were quickly recognized, sending Emerson to Harvard. Briefly after graduating, he taught at the Harvard Divinity School but soon after, in 1829, he became ordained and preached in the Unitarian community. During that same year, Emerson married his first wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker who eventually died of tuberculosis a few years later, altering Emerson’s life forever.

The death of his wife caused Emerson to question his Christian beliefs and profession, causing him to resign from the ministry in 1832. After leaving the church, he began to work on many lectures and writings, allowing himself time to grieve, become a strong man once more, and rediscover his beliefs. In 1835, he married his second wife, Lydia Jackson, who then was along for the ride as Emerson initiated the Transcendentalist movement. Emerson grew to be a prescient critic of society’s standards and booming materialism. With his anonymous publication of Nature in 1836, Transcendentalism was created, boasting ideas about introspection and focussing on one’s intuition vice outward understanding.

Throughout his later years, prior to his death on April 27th, 1882, Emerson established himself as an incredible American essayist, lecturer, poet, and philosopher. From his work in the 1840 Transcendentalist magazine The Dial, to his famous published essays and his vast number of poems, Emerson was deemed the American tributary of European Romanticism and a main leader of the Transcendentalist movement. His writing moved people and continued to for centuries to come, leaving us with beautiful Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes to share today. Read the article below to find a profound Emerson quote to share and cherish.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Love & Friendship

“Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed. When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork but the solidest things we know.”

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

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

“There can never be deep peace between two spirits, never mutual respect until, in their dialogue, each stands for the whole world.”

“Happy is the house that shelters a friend.”

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

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

“The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.”

“We must be our own before we can be another’s.”

“Love, and you shall be loved.”

“Don’t choose the better person, choose the person who makes a better you.”

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Growth and Healing

“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.”

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”

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

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

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

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

“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.”

“Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.”

“Fear always springs from ignorance.”

“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.”

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Valor consists in the power of self-recovery.”

“Our strength grows out of our weakness.”

“Let us draw a lesson from nature, which always works by short ways. When the fruit is ripe, it falls.”

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

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

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

“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.”

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

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

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

“Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.”

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Life and Happiness

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

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

“What is success? 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 the 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!”

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

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”

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

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

“We are immersed in beauty, but our eyes have no clear vision.”

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

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

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

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

“That what we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us.”

“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.”

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

“Life is our dictionary.”

“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.”

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

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.”

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

“We don’t grow old. When we cease to grow, we become old.”

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

“Life is a progress, and not a station.”

“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.”

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

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

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

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, and faith looks up.”

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Character

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.”

“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.”

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.”

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

“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.”

“We call the tree good from its fruits, and the man, from his works.”

“We are to dignify to each other the daily needs and offices of man’s life, and embellish it by courage, wisdom and unity.”

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men that is genius.”

“Beauty without expression is boring.”

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

“To be great is to be misunderstood.”

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

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

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

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

“But genius looks forward. The eyes of men are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead. Man hopes. Genius creates.”

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

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

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

“We judge of man’s wisdom by his hope.”

“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.”

“Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.”

“Blame is safer than praise.”

“The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.”

“Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide.”

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

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

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

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

“Be an opener of doors.”

“The world belongs to the energetic.”

“Each of us sees in others what we carry in our own hearts.”

Famous Works by Emerson for Further Reading

Enjoy an essay or poem written by the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Katee is a lover of language and is in awe of the power it holds. Read more articles from Katee on Thought Catalog.

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