All Time Famous William James Quotes

William James Quotes

William James (1842–1910) was a prominent American philosopher and psychologist, renowned for shaping modern psychology and philosophy in the United States. Born in New York City, he studied medicine at Harvard before turning to psychology and philosophy. His influential work, “The Principles of Psychology” (1890), explored consciousness, and behavior, and introduced concepts like the “stream of consciousness” and the “self.” James played a key role in the development of pragmatism, emphasizing the practical consequences of ideas. His pragmatic philosophy, outlined in “Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking” (1907), argued for evaluating ideas based on their practical effects. In “The Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902), he delved into the study of mysticism and religious encounters. William James’ enduring contributions have left a lasting impact on psychology, philosophy, and the understanding of consciousness.

William James Quotes

1. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
— William James

2. “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
— William James

3. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
— William James

4. “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
— William James

5. “Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality.”
— William James

6. “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
— William James

7. “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
— William James

8. “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”
— William James

9. “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
— William James

10. “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”
— William James

11. “Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
— William James

12. “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.”
— William James

13. “Belief creates the actual fact.”
— William James

14. “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”
— William James

15. “If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.”
— William James

16. “Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.”
— William James

17. “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
— William James

18. “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. ”
— William James

19. “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
— William James

20. “Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours.”
— William James

21. “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
— William James

22. “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”
— William James

23. “Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.”
— William James

24. “No decision is, in itself, a decision.”
— William James

25. “To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions.”
— William James

26. “Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction”
— William James

27. “Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”
— William James

28. “Formula to live your dream: 1. Be bold. 2. Begin now, 3. No exceptions.”
— William James

29. “Give your dreams all you’ve got, and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.”
— William James

30. “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.”
— William James

31. “The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.”
— William James

32. “We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”
— William James

33. “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.”
— William James

34. “To kill time is not murder, it’s suicide.”
— William James

35. “Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art, and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves.”
— William James

36. “Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.”
— William James

37. “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”
— William James

38. “Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear.”
— William James

39. “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”
— William James

40. “Your hopes, dreams and aspirations are legitimate. They are trying to take you airborne, above the clouds, above the storms, if you only let them.”
— William James

41. “Agisci come se quel che fai, facesse la differenza. La fa!”
— William James

42. “Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.”
— William James

43. “So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.”
— William James

44. “All of our life is but a mass of small habits – practical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual – that bear us irresistibly toward our destiny.”
— William James

45. “Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.”
— William James

46. “Since you make evil or good by your own thoughts, it is your ruling of your thoughts which proves to be your principal concern.”
— William James

47. “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”
— William James

48. “If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick.”
— William James

49. “Act the part and you will become the part.”
— William James

50. “The greatest discovery of the 20th Century is that our attitude of mind determines our quality of life, not circumstances.”
— William James

51. “The strenuous life tastes better.”
— William James

52. “My experience is what I agree to attend to.”
— William James

53. “There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.”
— William James

54. “The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal.”
— William James

55. “What holds attention determines action.”
— William James

56. “There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.”
— William James

57. “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”
— William James

58. “A new idea is first condemned as ridiculous and then dismissed as trivial, until finally, it becomes what everybody knows.”
— William James

59. “He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.”
— William James

60. “From the Vedas we learn a practical art of surgery, medicine, music, house building under which mechanized art is included. They are encyclopedias of every aspect of life, culture, religion, science, ethics, law, cosmology and meteorology.”
— William James

61. “The education of attention would be an education par excellence.”
— William James

62. “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.”
— William James

63. “When once a decision is reached and execution is the order of the day, dismiss absolutely all responsibility and care about the outcome.”
— William James

64. “Once a decision is reached, stop worrying and start working.”
— William James

65. “Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do.”
— William James

66. “To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.”
— William James

67. “Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being.”
— William James

68. “Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.”
— William James

69. “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”
— William James

70. “To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.”
— William James

71. “In its broadest term, religion says that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in rightful relations to it.”
— William James

72. “Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.”
— William James

73. “Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference.”
— William James

74. “We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.”
— William James

75. “The word ‘cause’ is an altar to an unknown god.”
— William James

76. “If you want to change your life, do it flamboyantly and start immediately.”
— William James

77. “Man alone of all the creatures of earth can change his own pattern. Man alone is the architect of his own destiny.”
— William James

78. “With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation.”
— William James

79. “Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or being.”
— William James

80. “Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.”
— William James

81. “In any project the important factor is your belief. Without belief, there can be no successful outcome.”
— William James

82. “The aim of science is always to reduce complexity to simplicity.”
— William James

83. “We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, never to be undone.”
— William James

84. “If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly attain it. Only you must, then, really wish these things, and wish them exclusively, and not wish at the same time a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.”
— William James

85. “History is a bath of blood.”
— William James

86. “A difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.”
— William James

87. “There are no differences but differences of degree between different degrees of difference and no difference.”
— William James

88. “This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.”
— William James

89. “Tension is a habit. Relaxing is a habit. Bad habits can be broken, good habits formed.”
— William James

90. “The path to cheerfulness is to sit cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there.”
— William James

91. “In modern eyes, precious though wars may be they must not be waged solely for the sake of the ideal harvest. Only when forced upon one, is a war now thought permissible.”
— William James

92. “Truth is what will be steadily borne out by subsequent experience.”
— William James

93. “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.”
— William James

94. “A winner’s attitude: it may be difficult, but it’s possible. A loser’s attitude: It may be possible, but it’s too difficult.”
— William James

95. “We need only in cold blood to act as if the thing in question were real and it will infallibly end by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real.”
— William James

96. “For the moment, what we attend to is reality.”
— William James

97. “Hogamus, higamous Man is polygamous Higamus, hogamous Woman monogamous.”
— William James

98. “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”
— William James

99. “We and God have business with each other, and in opening ourselves to God’s influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled.”
— William James

100. “We are not only gregarious animals, liking to be in sight of our fellows, but we have an innate propensity to get ourselves noticed, and noticed favorably, by our kind.”
— William James

101. “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.”
— William James

102. “Strength is a facade for the proud, weakness is a mask for the lazy.”
— William James

103. “An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation.”
— William James

104. “Despair lames most people, but it wakes others fully up.”
— William James

105. “Man lives for science as well as bread.”
— William James

106. “There can be no final truth in ethics any more than in physics, until the last man has had his experience and said his say.”
— William James

107. “An act has no ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several all equally possible.”
— William James

108. “Real servants don’t try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for His purposes.”
— William James

109. “Success plus Self-esteem equals Pretensions.”
— William James

110. “The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a man who deserves one.”
— William James

111. “Earnestness means willingness to live with energy, though energy bring pain.”
— William James

112. “It is as important to cultivate your silence power as your word power.”
— William James

113. “New habits can be launched.”
— William James

114. “The good we do today becomes the happiness of tomorrow.”
— William James

115. “Instinct leads, logic does but follow.”
— William James

116. “There is a voice inside which speaks and says, “This is the real me!””
— William James

117. “Why should we think upon lovely things? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings.”
— William James

118. “Our acts of voluntary attending, as brief and fitful as they are, are nevertheless momentous and critical, determining us, as they do, to higher or lower destinies.”
— William James

119. “Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity.”
— William James

120. “The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.”
— William James

121. “We must be careful not to confuse data with the abstractions we use to analyze them.”
— William James

122. “Man can change his life simply by changing his attitude.”
— William James

123. “A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far stronger creature than was supposed.”
— William James

124. “As we take, in fact, a general view of the wonderful stream of our consciousness, what strikes us first is this different pace of its parts. Like a bird ’s life, it seems to be made of an alternation of flights and perchings.”
— William James

125. “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.”
— William James

126. “The function of ignoring, of inattention, is as vital a factor in mental progress as the function of attention itself.”
— William James

127. “Choose a self and stand by it.”
— William James

128. “A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.”
— William James

129. “To leap across an abyss, one is better served by faith than doubt.”
— William James

130. “Metaphysics means nothing but an unusually obstinate effort to think clearly.”
— William James

131. “When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion, action will.”
— William James

132. “It is only in the lonely emergencies of life that our creed is tested: then routine maxims fail, and we fall back on our gods.”
— William James

133. “My thinking is first and last and always for the sake of my doing, and I can only do one thing at a time.”
— William James

134. “There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual.”
— William James

135. “The most immutable barrier in nature is between one man’s thoughts and another’s.”
— William James

136. “In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering.”
— William James

137. “The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.”
— William James

138. “Effort is a measure of a Man.”
— William James

139. “We are mere bundles of habits.”
— William James

140. “To neglect the wise sayings of great thinkers is to deny ourselves the truest education.”
— William James

141. “The power to move the world is in the subconcious mind.”
— William James

142. “All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish.”
— William James

143. “If you give appreciation to people, you win their goodwill. But more important than that, practicing this philosophy has made a different person of me.”
— William James

144. “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.”
— William James

145. “If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.”
— William James

146. “Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void.”
— William James

147. “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.”
— William James

148. “Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.”
— William James

149. “It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all.”
— William James

150. “So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do.”
— William James

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