170 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Self Reliance, Life & Nature

In this post, we’ll read Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes, who was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) led the transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century and it emphasized the inherent goodness of people and nature, individual intuition as the highest source of knowledge, and the rejection of materialism.

In one of his most famous essays, “Self-Reliance” he stated the importance of individualism and personal intuition, urging people to trust themselves and not conform to the majority if they didn’t believe in it.

Emerson held that true knowledge and insight come from within and that people should rely on their own inner voice rather than conform to societal expectations.

Let’s read some of the best Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes on the true meaning of life, self reliance, nature and more.

Best Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Best Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

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

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

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

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

5. “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”

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

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

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

9. “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

10. “Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.”

11. “Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.”

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

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Self Reliance

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Self Reliance

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

2. “The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”

3. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

4. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

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

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

7. “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

8. “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”

9. “Imitation is Suicide. ”

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

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

12. “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

13. “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.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.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Transcendentalism

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Transcendentalism

1. “Money often costs too much.”

2. “Do not cumber yourself with fruitless pains to mend and remedy remote effects; let the soul be erect, and all things will go well.”

3. “You think me the child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance.”

4. “Nature is transcendental, exists primarily, necessarily, ever works and advances, yet takes no thought for the morrow.”

5. “They are lonely; the spirit of their writing and conversation is lonely; they repel influences; they shun general society; they incline to shut themselves in their chamber in the house, to live in the country rather than in the town, and to find their tasks and amusements in solitude.”

6. “The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity.”

7. “A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles.”

8. “Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Life

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

2. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

3. “He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

4. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.”

5. “A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.”

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

7. “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

8. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

9. “As soon as there is life there is danger.”

10. “Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.”

11. “Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Success

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Success

1. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

2. “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!”

3. “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.”

4. “The first wealth is health.”

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

6. “The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.”

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

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

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

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Nature

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

2. “Nature is the incarnation of thought. The world is the mind precipitated.”

3. “Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.”

4. “Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.”

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

6. “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”

7. “Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.”

8. “We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.”

9. “Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.”

10. “When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.”

11. “Nature hates calculators.”

12. “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the ‘Not Me,’ that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, ‘Nature.’”

13. “The earth laughs in flowers.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Happiness

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Happiness

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

2. “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.”

3. “The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.”

4. “He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

5. “Happy will the house be in which the relationships are formed from character.”

6. “Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Friendship

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Friendship

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

2. “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

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

4. “In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.”

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

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

7. “Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.”

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

9. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Love

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Love

1. “Love, and you shall be loved.”

2. “He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses.”

3. “The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry.”

4. “I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.”

5. “Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.”

6. “All mankind love a lover.”

7. “I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. ”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Society

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Society

1. “Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.”

2. “In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise.”

3. “Good men must not obey the laws too well.”

4. “Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.”

5. “The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.”

6. “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.”

7. “I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.”

8. “I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Character

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Character

1. “No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.”

2. “Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls.”

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

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

5. “Judge your natural character by what you do in your dreams.”

6. “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

7. “Men’s actions are too strong for them. Show me a man who has acted, and who has not been the victim and slave of his action.”

8. “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Truth

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Truth

1. “Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.”

2. “Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there, do seem to stir and move to bear you witness.”

3. “Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.”

4. “Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.”

5. “Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Time

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Time

1. “Little minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries.”

2. “The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.”

3. “Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.”

4. “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

5. “Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine, a possession for all time.”

6. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Learning & Education

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Learning & Education

1. “Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him.”

2. “The secret in education lies in respecting the student.”

3. “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”

4. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”

5. “Every artist was first an amateur.”

6. “Knowledge is the antidote to fear.”

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

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

9. “Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know.”

10. “Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.”

Short Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Short Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

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

2. “Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.”

3. “What you are comes to you.”

4. “A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.”

5. “The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.”

6. “I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.”

7. “Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.”

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

9. “Envy is ignorance.”

10. “Wise men put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances.”

11. “Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”

12. “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”

13. “People only see what they are prepared to see.”

14. “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.”

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

16. “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”

17. “To be great is to be misunderstood.”

18. “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”

19. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

20. “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

21. “Men are what their mothers made them.”

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes on Beauty

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote on Beauty

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

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

3. “Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.”

4. “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.”

5. “It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

6. “We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.”

7. “Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.”

8. “Beauty without expression is boring.”

Inspirational Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Inspirational Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

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

2. “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

3. “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”

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

5. “People destined to meet will do so, apparently by chance, at precisely the right moment.”

6. “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”

7. “We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.”

8. “We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.”

9. “He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.”

10. “A man’s years should not be counted until he has something else to count.”

11. “Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.”

12. “The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

These Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, individualism, and the spiritual connection to nature which has had a lasting impact on American culture and philosophy.

Throughout his life, Emerson traveled widely, giving lectures and engaging with intellectuals of his time. Despite personal tragedies, including the deaths of his first wife and several of his children, he remained an inspirational writer and speaker.

Emerson is remembered as a central figure in American transcendentalism and as one of the nation’s most influential literary and philosophical voices, inspiring transcendentalists like Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman.

Which of these Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes had an impact on you?

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