200+ Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes And Observations On Human Nature

These most quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes will make you think, change your perspective and motivate you to achieve success.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – Author

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who was famous for his philosophical essays. Born in 1803, his contributions in the field of literature were significant during the early and mid-19th century. Emerson’s essays and poems had a profound influence on the thinkers of his time, as well as on subsequent generations.

Emerson’s essays are characterized by their insights into human nature, as well as by their eloquence and style. In his essay “Self-Reliance,” Emerson advocates for individualism and nonconformity.

Other famous essays include “The Over-Soul”, “Experience” and “Nature“. Emerson’s poetry, while not as well-known as his essays, is also noteworthy. His poem “The Rhodora” is considered one of his best works.

Understandably then, Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most quoted authors of all time. His words have the power to inspire, challenge, and provoke thought. Emerson’s quotes are also notable for their wisdom and insight.

In this selection of quotes, Emerson touches on topics such as the individual, success, character, and happiness.

Best Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The older you get, the older you want to get.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Character is higher than intellect… A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The desire for gold is not gold. It is for the means for freedom and benefit.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath, they are like everyone else.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


All the good of nature is the soul’s, and may be had, if paid for in nature’s lawful coin, that is, by labor which the heart and the head allow.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The ancestor of every action is a thought.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

We aim above the mark to hit the mark. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Character is higher than intellect.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Character is higher than intellect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Hitch your wagon to a star.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


People with great gifts are easy to find, but symmetrical and balanced ones never.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Every artist was first an amateur.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Manners require time and nothing is more vulgar than haste.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Inspiring Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


What you are comes to you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

What you are comes to you. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Life is a journey, not a destination.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The only way to have a friend is to be one.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


You become what you think about all day long.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You become what you think about all day long. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


The last change in our point of view gives the whole world a pictorial air.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it is refused.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Related: Beauty Quotes


What your heart thinks is great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Motivational Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are always getting ready to live but never living.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are always getting ready to live but never living. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


To be great is to be misunderstood.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be great is to be misunderstood. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Wise men put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


One of the most beautiful compensations in life is that no person can help another without helping themselves.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The first wealth is health.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Words of Wisdom by Ralph Waldo Emerson

People only see what they are prepared to see.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


In the morning, a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only in his legs.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


A great man is always willing to be little.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A great man is always willing to be little. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


God enters by a private door into every individual.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Related: 300+ Meaningful Quotes About God And A Power Greater Than Ourselves


Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Little minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


It is not the length of life, but the depth.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learned would not miss.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Economy does not consist in saving the coal, but in using the time while it burns.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ralph Waldo Emerson Sayings and Quotes

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


We cannot overstate our debt to the past, but the moment has the supreme claim.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


We are a puny and fickle folk. Avarice, hesitation, and following are our diseases.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beauty without expression is boring.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Every man I meet is in some way my superior.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


We are rich through only what we give and poor only through what we refuse.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Men love to wonder; that is the seed of science.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Nature is reckless of the individual. When she has points to carry, she carries them.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Good men must not obey the laws too well.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Knowledge is the antidote to fear.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Knowledge is the antidote to fear. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Throw a stone into the stream and the ripples that propagate themselves are the beautiful type of all influence.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


As soon as there is life, there is danger.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

As soon as there is life, there is danger. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


All mankind love a lover.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Self-trust is the first secret of success.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-trust is the first secret of success. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Famous Phrases by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


In skating over thin ice, our safety is speed.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude and into freedom.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Make yourself necessary to somebody.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make yourself necessary to somebody. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Win as if you were used to it; lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The secret in education lies in respecting the student.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The secret in education lies in respecting the student. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


All is riddle and the key to a riddle is another riddle.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


How much of human life is lost in waiting.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Related: Best Inspirational Quotes


Insightful Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotations

The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


There is a tendency for things to right themselves.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The earth laughs in flowers.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The earth laughs in flowers. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Science does not know its debt to imagination.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Science does not know its debt to imagination. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


The reward of a thing well done is having done it.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


I do not wish more external goods—neither possessions, nor honors, nor powers, nor persons. The gain is apparent; the tax is certain.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


The years teach much which the days never know.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Imagination is a very high sort of seeing.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagination is a very high sort of seeing. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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