William James

United States pragmatic philosopher and psychologist (1842-1910)

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A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices.
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
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.
An act has no ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several all equally possible.
An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation.
As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.
Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
Be willing to have it so. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me.
Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.
He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.
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.
Human beings are born into this little span of life of which the best thing is its friendship and intimacies, and soon their places will know them no more, 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 inertia.
Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capil
I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it. Try the 'as if' technique.
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it. Try the as if technique.
Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference.
Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his lttle finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you!!
Much of what we call evil is due entirely to the way men take the phenomenon. It can so often be converted into a bracing and tonic good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight; its string can so often depart and turn into a relish when, after vainly seeking to shun it, we agree to face about and bear it...
Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul None is more gladdening or fruitful than to know You can regenerate and make yourself what you will.
Only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom.
Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that assures the successful outcome of any venture.
Our minds thus grow in spots and like grease spots, the spots spread. But we let them spread as little as possible we keep unaltered as much of our old knowledge, as many of our old prejudices and beliefs, as we can.
Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.
Religion is the monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.
Religion, whatever it is, is a man's total reaction upon life.
The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
The difference between a good man and a bad man is the choice of cause.
The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.
The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
The man whose acquisitions stick is the man who is always achieving and advancing whilst his neighbors, spending most of their time in relearning what they once knew but have forgotten, simply hold their own.
The stream of thought flows on but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures.
The stream of thought flows on; but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures.
The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist.
There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual.
There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.
There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.
There is only one thing that a philosopher can be relied on to do, and that is, to contradict other philosophers.
This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.
To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.
True ideas lead us into useful verbal and conceptual quarters as well as directly up to useful sensible termini. They lead to consistency, stability and flowing human intercourse.
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.
We never fully grasp the import of any true statement until we have a clear notion of what the opposite untrue statement would be.
What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise -- although the philosophers generally call it recognition!
When a thing is new, people say 'It is not true.' Later, when its truth becomes obvious, they say 'It is not important.' Finally, when its importance cannot be denied, they say 'Anyway, it is not new.'
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.

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