Top 50+ William James Quotes


Who is William James

William James, the noted philosopher and psychologist from the United States of America, was born on the 11th January 1842 and died on the 26th August 1910. James was born into an affluent family of noted academics and writers, including his brother Henry James and sister Alice James. Despite training as a physician and subsequently teaching anatomy at Harvard University, James chose to go into psychology and philosophy.

Widely considered one of the leading intellectuals of the 19th Century, he was the first academic to offer a psychology course in America and is linked as a founding member of the functional psychology field. Away from psychology, he co-founded the pragmatism school of philosophy and went on to author essays on Radical Empiricism, education, religion and mysticism.

James is often given the title ‘Father of American Psychology’ and has been named as an inspirational figure by many of the leading philosophers of the 20th Century, including Bertrand Russell and W E B Du Bois. His quotations provide an insight into the mind of this great man and leading thinker of a generation, who still shapes the way we think to this day.

William James Quotes

1.The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

2.Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

3.A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

4.Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.

5.The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

6.Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.

7.The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.

8.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.

9.The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths.

10.The ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives.

11.In business for yourself, not by yourself.

12.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.

13.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.

14.When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.

15.It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.

16.Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

17.The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

18.Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.

19.Genius… means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.

20.To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.

21.Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.

22.The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.

23.Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.

24.To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.

25.Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.

26.Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

27.Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

28.The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.

29.Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf.

30.Belief creates the actual fact.

31.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.

32.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.

33.Our faith is faith in someone else’s faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case.

34.Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.

35.An act has no ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several all equally possible.

36.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.

37.Do something everyday for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.

38.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.

39.Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.

40.Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

41.We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.

42.To spend life for something which outlasts it.

43.Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.

44.There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.

45.It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

46.An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation.

47.Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.

48.One hearty laugh together will bring enemies into a closer communion of heart than hours spent on both sides in inward wrestling with the mental demon of uncharitable feeling.

49.Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.

50.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.

51.Our esteem for facts has not neutralized in us all religiousness. It is itself almost religious. Our scientific temper is devout.

52.Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and directly perceive how events happen, and how work is actually done.

53.Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.

54.We are doomed to cling to a life even while we find it unendurable.

55.If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick

56.Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not.

57.This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.

58.Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

59.If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.

60.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.


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