William James Quotes

Who is William James?

William James was an American nineteenth century philosopher and psychologist. James is known as the Father of American Psychology.

Born January 11, 1842
Died August 27, 1910

Books by William James


Best 96 Quotes by William James – Page 1 of 4

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

“A great nation is not saved by wars, it is saved by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans and empty quacks.”

“A man may not achieve everything he has dreamed, but he will never achieve anything great without having dreamed it first.”

“A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.”

“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.”

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

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

“Act the part and you will become the part.”

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

“Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.”

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits - practical, emotional, and intellectual - systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”

“Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours.”

“Belief creates the actual fact.”

“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.”

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“Beyond the very extremity of fatigue distress, amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own, sources of strength habitually not taxed at all, because habitually we never push through the obstruction.”

“Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me.”

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“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”


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“Habit simplifies our movements, makes them accurate, and diminishes fatigue.”

“Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendships and intimacies… and yet they leave their friendships and intimacies with no cultivation, to grow as they will by the roadside, expecting them to "keep" by force of mere inertia.”

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

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride.”

“I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing.”

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

“If merely 'feeling good' could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.”

“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.”

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”

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

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

“It would probably astound each of us beyond measure to be let into his neighbors mind and to find how different the scenery was there from that of his own.”

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

“Most unhappiness is caused because people listen to themselves... instead of talking to themselves.”

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“Who can make the muddy water clear? Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.”


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