As one of the most profound voices in literary history, Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes have outlasted centuries and are still referred to for their wisdom and insight. A Transcendentalist poet, Emerson was also a philosopher and lecturer. People both past and present look to his works as being markedly thought-provoking while revealing his personal beliefs and theories.
While traveling through both America and Europe, Emerson spent years developing personal philosophies and conversing with other great minds of his time. He was an ordained minister, but his writing and lectures were more focused on individual spirituality and the important social issues of the time. He was a known abolitionist and often analyzed the importance of freedom in his works.
From the 1830s to the 1840s, Emerson wrote and presented many of his most notable essays. He expressed the merits of Transcendentalism in the essay entitled “Nature” in 1836. A year later, the speech “The American Scholar” was recognized by other philosophers and writers as “America’s intellectual declaration of independence.”
Emerson continued to learn, develop philosophies, and write until his death in 1882. His words inspired others, including his protege Henry David Thoreau. His voice is still heard today in his essays and individual Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes.
Here are 30 of the most thought-provoking Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes that have survived centuries.
1. “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
2. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
3. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
4. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
5. “The first wealth is health.”
6. “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
7. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
8. “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
9. “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
10. “The earth laughs in flowers.”
11. “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
12. “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
13. “It is not length of life, but depth of life.”
14. “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”
15. “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
16. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
17. “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”
18. “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.”
19. “People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
20. “A great man is always willing to be little.”
21. “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
22. “Science does not know its debt to imagination.”
23. “The years teach much which the days never know.”
24. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”
25. “People only see what they are prepared to see.”
26. “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
27. “As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.”
28. “I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.”
29. “As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.”
30. “Make yourself necessary to somebody.”
It’s every writer’s goal to have their voice be remembered long after they’re gone. Share these Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes with friends and family to ensure his voice is never silenced and his philosophies about life continue to guide others.