If you’re looking for the best collection of William James quotes then look no further.
William James was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James is considered to be a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century, one of the most influential philosophers of the United States, and the “Father of American psychology”.
Along with Charles Sanders Peirce, James established the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. James also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism.
Below I’ve put together the most inspirational William James quotes that will help you to change your attitude and achieve your goals.
77 William James Quotes
1. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James
2. “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” – William James (This is one of the most famous William James quotes on attitude.)
3. “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.” – William James
4. “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
5. “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
6. “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” – William James
7. “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
8. “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.” – William James
9. “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” – William James
10. “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
11. “Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.” – William James
12. “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
13. “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
14. “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” – William James
15. “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” – William James
16. “Positive images of the future are a powerful and magnetic force… They draw us on and energize us, give us courage and will to take on important initiatives. Negative images of the future also have a magnetism. They pull the spirit downward in the path of despair.” – William James
17. “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James
18. “This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.” – William James
19. “There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.” – William James
20. “Action may not bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.” – William James
21. “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
22. “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” – William James
23. “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” – William James
24. “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James
25. “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” – William James
26. “If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” – William James
27. “The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” – William James
28. “Why should we think upon things that are lovely? 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
29. “Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours.” – William James
30. “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
31. “Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear.” – William James
32. “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
33. “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
34. “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” – William James
35. “To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions.” – William James
36. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” – William James
37. “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses power of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.” – William James
38. “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.” – William James
39. “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” – William James
40. “Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.” – William James
41. “Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” – William James
42. “A man with no philosophy in him is the most inauspicious and unprofitable of all possible social mates.” – William James
43. “The strenuous life tastes better.” – William James
44. “As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.” – William James
45. “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” – William James
46. “Wisdom is seeing something in a non-habitual manner.” – William James
47. “Our experience is what we attend to.” – William James
48. “Most unhappiness is caused because people listen to themselves… instead of talking to themselves.” – William James
49. “Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality.” – William James
50. “The good we do today becomes the happiness of tomorrow.” – William James
51. “What holds attention determines action.” – William James
52. “There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough.” – William James
53. “Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me.” – William James
54. “A man may not achieve everything he has dreamed, but he will never achieve anything great without having dreamed it first.” – William James
55. “Act the part and you will become the part.” – William James
56. “Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or being.” – William James
57. “Formula to live your dream: 1. Be bold. 2. Begin now, 3. No exceptions.” – William James
58. “Habit simplifies our movements, makes them accurate, and diminishes fatigue.” – William James
59. “To kill time is not murder, it’s suicide.” – William James
60. “Once a decision is reached, stop worrying and start working.” – William James
61. “The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.” – William James
62. “Tension is a habit. Relaxing is a habit. Bad habits can be broken, good habits formed.” – William James
63. “We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. We postpone and postpone until those smiling possibilities are dead… By neglecting the necessary concrete labor, by sparing ourselves the little daily tax, we are positively digging the graves of our higher possibilities.” – William James
64. “When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion, action will.” – William James
65. “The mind is made up by what it feeds upon.” – William James
66. “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
67. “If you want confidence, act as if you already have it. Try the “as if” technique.” – William James
68. “Men habitually use only a small part of the power which they actually possess.” – William James
69. “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
70. “Man lives in only one small room of the enormous house of his consciousness.” – William James
71. “He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.” – William James
72. “The power to move the world is in the subconcious mind.” – William James
73. “Man alone of all the creatures of earth can change his own pattern. Man alone is the architect of his own destiny.” – William James
74. “Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day.” – William James
75. “Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that assures the successful outcome of any venture.” – William James
76. “In business for yourself, not by yourself.” – William James
77. “Effort is the one strictly undervalued and original contribution we make to this world.” – William James
Did you like these inspirational quotes?
As these William James quotes show, James was a big believer in that our attitudes shape our actions and hence our destiny. That we always can make a conscious decision to change our thoughts, create new habits and harness the power of our subconscious mind to move the world.
I hope that reading these William James quotes has made you conscious of the fact that you can always start now and create a new future for yourself.
What are your favorite William James quotes? Let me know in the comments below and please share this post.
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