Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

2. “Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

3. “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson postage stamp, issue of 1940
Emerson postage stamp, issue of 1940

7. “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

9. “The greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

10. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

11. “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

12. “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

13. “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

14. “Love is a perfume you cannot pour onto others without getting a few drops on yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

16. “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

17. “Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

18. “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

19. “The reason why the world lacks unity and lies broken and in heaps is because man is disunited with himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

20. “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

21. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

22. “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.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

24. “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

25. “Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

27. “Always, always, always, always, always do what you are afraid to do. Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

28. “When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

29. “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

30. “To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

32. “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

33. “It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

36. “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

37. “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

38. “When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world, I thank God I am alive.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

39. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

40. “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

41. “The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

42. “Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

43. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

44. “Knowledge is an antidote to fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

45. “The first wealth is health.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

46. “Self-reliance, the height and perfection of man, is reliance on God.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

47. “Most of the shadows of this life are standing in one’s own sunshine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

48. “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

49. “Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

50. “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

51. “What you are comes to you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

52. “Imagination is not the talent of some men, but the health of every man.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

53. “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.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

54. “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

56. I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. Ralph Waldo Emerson

57. A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist. Ralph Waldo Emerson

58. “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

59. “Finish each day and be done with it. ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

60. “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Young Ralph Emerson
Young Ralph Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a critic of the pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay “Nature“.

Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent the core of his thinking. They include the well-known essays “Self-Reliance“, “The Over-Soul“, “Circles“, “The Poet“, and “Experience.” Together with “Nature“, these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson’s most fertile period.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world.

His work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him. “In all my lectures,” he wrote, “I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.” Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist.


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