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21 Inspiring Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born the son of a minister in Boston, Massachusetts in 1803. After attending the prestigious Harvard College, Emerson initially followed in his father’s footsteps and became an ordained minister. While still a young man, however, he left the clergy to pursue a career as an essayist and public speaker. Over the course of his career, he became one of the most influential nineteenth century literary figures. His two most famous works, essays ‘Nature’ and ‘Self Reliance’ serve to clearly outline his distinct philosophy of life which emphasized optimism, individuality, the unity of all things, the difference between right and wrong and the power of human potential.

Here are 21 of his most inspiring quotes:

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On achieving your dreams

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

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

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

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On optimism

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

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On personal growth

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

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On using time wisely

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting… Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On recognizing greatness in others

“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.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On friendship and love

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love, and you shall be loved.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On character.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“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.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On gratitude

“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

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On starting each day anew

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On not taking life too seriously

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

About Joya Martin

I am an award-winning business leader and experienced accounting professional living in the gorgeous Caribbean. I'm inspired by books, photography, art, beauty, nature, freedom, learning and love. My passion is continuous learning, growth and improvement. I believe in people. Here you will find the tools, tips and motivation you need to help you achieve happiness and success beyond your wildest dreams.

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8 Responses to 21 Inspiring Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. September 15, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Thank you so much for this inspiring wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson . . . and from a sista, too!!!

    • Joya Martin
      October 1, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      You’re so welcome, Diane. Thanks for taking the time to show appreciation! 🙂

  2. January 16, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I’m seeing the quote on cultivating gratitude being attributed to Emerson in other places on the Internet and was wondering if you could help me find the source of the quote – in which work by Emerson it appears. The reason I’m curious is because it’s word for word the same statement made by Wallace D. Wattles in his book, The Science of Getting Rich, in the chapter titled “Gratitude.” I know Wattles studied Emerson’s works and, in fact, credits him as one of his influences in the preface. So, maybe Wattles used Emerson’s words exactly in this section without citation in the chapter, maybe supposing that credit given in the preface would suffice? Anyway, that’s why I’m wondering… where does the Emerson quote on this webpage come from – in what work does it appear? I’d love to track it to the source to know. Thanks!

  3. Louise
    August 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    I really like these, but my favorite quote of his is not listed.

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

    • September 2, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Thanks for that addition, Louise! I missed that one… It’s wonderful.

  4. Colleen
    May 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I like this! What essay/book/etc. is “Dare to live the life you dream for yourself. Go forward and make your treams come true.” from?

  5. Karrie
    April 22, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Joy, I really like this post. I too love to read inspirational stuff and this article just made my day! Thanks for sharing.

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