Famous Quotes By William James


  1. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.
  2. A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
  3. Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
  4. Action may not bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.
  5. Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.
  6. Belief creates the actual fact.
  7. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
  8. Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.
  9. Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.
  10. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.
  11. How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.
  12. If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.
  13. If the grace of God miraculously operates, it probably operates through the subliminal door.
  14. If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system.
  15. If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.
  16. If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.
  17. In business for yourself, not by yourself.
  18. It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true.
  19. It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.
  20. It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.
  21. Knowledge about life is one thing effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.
  22. Man lives for science as well as bread.
  23. Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.
  24. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one's sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one's character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.
  25. Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case.
  26. Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.
  27. 'Pure experience' is the name I gave to the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual categories.
  28. The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.
  29. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
  30. The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a man who deserves one.
  31. The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
  32. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
  33. The god whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.
  34. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
  35. The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.
  36. The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.
  37. The ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives.
  38. The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour.
  39. There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man's lack of faith in his true Self.
  40. There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominate religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker if sad, it must not scream or curse.
  41. This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.
  42. Those thoughts are truth which guide us to beneficial interaction with sensible particulars as they occur, whether they copy these in advance or not.
  43. Time itself comes in drops.
  44. To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.
  45. To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.
  46. Truth is what works.
  47. Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them.
  48. We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.
  49. We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.
  50. Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.
  51. Wisdom is learning what to overlook.

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