Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes: Top 50 on Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes: Ralph Waldo Emerson who went by his middle name Waldo, 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 prescient critic of the countervailing 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”. Following this work, he gave a speech entitled “The American Scholar” in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence. Below we’ve compiled some of our favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes for your enjoyment.

Common Questions about Ralph Emerson

What is Emerson's writing style?

Emerson wrote poetic prose, ordering his essays by recurring themes and images. His poetry, on the other hand, is often called harsh and didactic.

What were Ralph Waldo Emerson's beliefs?

Emerson saw a direct connection between man, nature and God. Historian Grant Wacker describes Emerson’s belief: “God was best understood as a spirit, an ideal, a breath of life; everywhere and always filling the world with the inexhaustible power of the divine presence.

What are 3 characteristics of transcendentalism?

The transcendentalist movement encompassed many beliefs, but these all fit into their three main values of individualism, idealism, and the divinity of nature.

Our Favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes,

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

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

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

“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.”

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

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

“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.”

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

“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.”

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

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

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


“The earth laughs in flowers.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

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

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”

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

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”

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

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


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

“People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

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

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

“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.”

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

“To be great is to be misunderstood.”

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

“Envy is ignorance, Imitation is Suicide.”

“It is easy to live for others, everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.”

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

“When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.”

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

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.”

“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”

“There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

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

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

“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.”

“Nothing external to you has any power over you.”

“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.”

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”