William James quote

"If the topic be highly abstract, show its nature by concrete examples; if it be unfamiliar, make it figure as part of a story; if it be difficult, couple its acquisition with some prospect of personal gain. Above all things, make sure that it shall run through certain inner changes, since no unvarying object can possibly hold the mental field for long. Let your pupil wander from one aspect to another of your subject, if you do not wish him to wander from it altogether to something else, variety in unity being the secret of all interesting talk and thought."

William James

Born: January 11, 1842

Die: August 26, 1910

Occupation: Philosopher

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More quotes of William James

William James

Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri-fication. Its validity is the process...

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William James

My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.

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William James

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

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William James

We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.

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William James

Once you accept an idea, it's an idea whose time has come.

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William James

Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.

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William James

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

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William James

Pragmatism asks its usual question. "Grant an idea or belief to be true," it says, "what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone's actual life? How will the truth be realized? What experiences...

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William James

Men habitually use only a small part of the power which they actually possess.

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William James

Faith is one of the forces by which men live, and the total absence of it means collapse

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William James

The strenuous life tastes better

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William James

The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.

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William James

Lets take full advantage of this discovery

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William James

A little cooling down of animal excitability and instinct, a little loss of animal toughness, a little irritable weakness and descent of the pain-threshold, will bring the worm at the core of all our usual...

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William James

Man can change his life simply by changing his attitude.

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William James

The attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly. What can be more base and unworthy than the pining, puling, mumping mood, no matter by what outward ills it may have been engendered?...

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William James

The deepest longing in the human breast is the desire for appreciation.

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William James

If you want a confidence, act as if you already have it. Try the "as if" technique.

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William James

A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far stronger creature than was supposed.

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William James

In any project the important factor is your belief. Without belief, there can be no successful outcome.

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William James

To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.

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William James

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.

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William James

Actions seems to follow feeling, but really actions 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...

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William James

How can the moribund old man reason back to himself the romance, the mystery, the imminence of great things with which our old earth tingled for him in the days when he was young and well?

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William James

Selection is the very keel on which our mental ship is built. And in this case of memory its utility is obvious. If we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered...

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William James

A new idea is first condemned as ridiculous and then dismissed as trivial, until finally, it becomes what everybody knows.

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William James

He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.

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William James

Focus on increasing service. Becoming great where you are. Pile in the wood. The heat will follow.

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William James

Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or being.

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William James

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,...

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William James

All our scientific and philosophic ideals are altars to unknown gods.

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William James

The discovery of the power of our thoughts will prove to be the most important discovery of our time

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William James

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

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William James

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.

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William James

Man alone of all the creatures of earth can change his own pattern. Man alone is the architect of his own destiny.

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William James

The one who thinks over his experiences most, and weaves them into systematic relations with each other, will be the one with the best memory.

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William James

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.

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William James

Why may we not be in the universe, as our dogs and cats are in our drawingrooms and libraries?

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William James

The voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our spontaneous cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully, and act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there. To feel brave, act as if we were brave, use...

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William James

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.

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William James

To begin with our knowledge grows in spots. ..What you first gain, ... is probably a small amount of new information, a few new definitions, or distinctions, or points of view. But while these special...

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William James

If this life is not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it feels...

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William James

In business for yourself, not by yourself.

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William James

Truths emerge from facts, but they dip forward into facts again and add to them; which facts again create or reveal new truth (the word is indifferent) and so on indefinitely. The 'facts' themselves meanwhile...

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William James

If there is aught of good in the style, it is the result of ceaseless toil in rewriting. Everything comes out wrong with me at first; but when once objectified I can torture and poke and scrape and pat...

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William James

All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish.

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William James

Truth in our ideas means their power to work.

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William James

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...

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William James

We, the lineal representatives of the successful enactors of one scene of slaughter after another, must, whatever more pacific virtues we may also possess, still carry about with us, ready at any moment...

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William James

To spend life for something which outlasts it.

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William James

The most violent revolutions in an individuals beliefs leave most of his old order standing. Time and space, cause and effect, nature and history, and ones own biography remain untouched. New truth is...

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William James

The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.

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William James

Footnotes -- little dogs yapping at the heels of the text

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William James

Failure, then, failure! so the world stamps us at every turn. We strew it with our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, with all the memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation. And with what...

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William James

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...

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William James

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.

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William James

The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an altogether other dimension of existence from the sensible and merely understandable world. Name it the mystical region, or the supernatural...

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William James

Give up the feeling of responsibility, let go your hold, resign the care of your destiny to higher powers, be genuinely indifferent as to what becomes of it all and you will find not only that you gain...

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William James

As there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it, so reasonable arguments, challenges to magnanimity, and appeals to sympathy or justice, are folly when we are dealing with human...

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William James

I know that you, ladies and gentlemen, have a philosophy, each and all of you, and that the most interesting and important thing about you is the way in which it determines the perspective in your several...

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William James

The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of personal centre...

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William James

Smitten as we are with the vision of social righteousness, a God indifferent to everything but adulation, and full of partiality for his individual favorites, lacks an essential element of largeness.

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William James

I have often thought the best way to define a man's character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it comes upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active...

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William James

We must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can...in the acquisition of a new habit, we must take car to launch ourselves with as strong and decided initiative...

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William James

Men's activities are occupied into ways -- in grappling with external circumstances and in striving to set things at one in their own topsy-turvy mind.

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William James

When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at the thought...

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William James

There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.

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William James

Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is still theoretically possible ... faith is the readiness to act in a cause the prosperous issue of which is not certified to us in advance.

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William James

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

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William James

All the daily routine of life, our dressing and undressing, the coming and going from our work or carrying through of its various operations, is utterly without mental reference to pleasure and pain, except...

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William James

The first thing to learn in intercourse with others is non-interference with their own particular ways of being happy, provided those ways do not assume to interfere by violence with ours.

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William James

Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working-day, he may safely leave the result to itself. He can...

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William James

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.

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William James

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.

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William James

Mankind's common instinct for reality has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism. In heroism, we feel, life's supreme mystery is hidden. We tolerate no one who has no capacity whatever...

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William James

Romeo wants Juliet as the filings want the magnet; and if no obstacles intervene he moves towards her by as straight a line as they. But Romeo and Juliet, if a wall be built between them, do not remain...

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William James

If you say that this is absurd, that we cannot be in love with everyone at once, I merely point out to you that, as a matter of fact, certain persons do exist with an enormous capacity for friendship and...

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William James

We must not just patch and tinker with life. We must keep renewing it. Embrace novelty and uniqueness.

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William James

You can be an artist without visual images, a reader without eyes, a mass of erudition with a bad elementary memory. In almost any subject your passion for the subject will save you. If you only care enough...

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William James

Our beliefs are really rules for action.

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William James

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

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William James

Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. It alone is what keeps us all within the bounds of ordinance, and saves the children of fortune from the envious uprisings...

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William James

We do not sing because we are happy, we are happy because we sing.

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William James

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all.

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William James

We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making...

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William James

Tension is a habit. Relaxing is a habit. Bad habits can be broken, good habits formed.

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William James

For the moment, what we attend to is reality.

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William James

Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day.

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William James

The greatest weapon we have to combat stress is the ability to choose our thoughts.

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William James

Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. Not through mere perversity do men run after it.

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William James

There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.

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William James

Religion, whatever it is, is a man's total reaction upon life.

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William James

So to feel brave, act as if we were brave, use all our will to that end...and a courage-fit will very likely replace the fit of fear.

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William James

Life is one long struggle between conclusions based on abstract ways of conceiving cases, and opposite conclusions prompted by our instinctive perception of them.

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William James

Many persons nowadays seem to think that any conclusion must be very scientific if the arguments in favor of it are derived from twitching of frogs' legs (especially if the frogs are decapitated) and that,...

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William James

Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always...

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William James

Or if the hypothesis were offered us of a world in which Messrs. Fourier's and Bellamy's and Morris's Utopias should all be outdone, and millions kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that...

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William James

All the higher, more penetrating ideals are revolutionary. They present themselves far less in the guise of effects of past experience than in that of probable causes of future experience, factors to which...

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William James

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.

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William James

...By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them.

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William James

There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough.

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William James

Procrastination is attitude's natural assassin. There's nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task

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William James

We must be careful not to confuse data with the abstractions we use to analyse them.

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William James

The good or bad is not in the circumstance, but only in the mind...that encounters it.

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William James

Serious development of the personality begins at the closet door.

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William James

Democracy is still upon its trial. The civic genius of our people is its only bulwark.

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William James

Tell him to live by yes and no - yes to everything good, no to everything bad.

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William James

[T]here is very little difference between one person and another, but what little difference ther eis, is very important.

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William James

Instinct leads, logic does but follow.

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William James

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...

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William James

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...

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William James

Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity.

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William James

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...

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William James

In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering.

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William James

One of the greatest discoveries of our time is that a man can alter the state of their life by altering the state of their mind.

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William James

What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the individual as in a vise.

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William James

We may be in the Universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.

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William James

In the deepest heart of all of us there is a corner in which the ultimate mystery of things works sadly.

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William James

Life shall be built in doing and suffering and creating.

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William James

To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them ratified.

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William James

My experience is what I agree to attend to.

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William James

But it is the bane of psychology to suppose that where results are similar, processes must be the same. Psychologists are too apt to reason as geometers would, if the latter were to say that the diameter...

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William James

The same is true of Love, and the instinctive desire to please those whom we love. The teacher who succeeds in getting herself loved by the pupils will obtain results which one of a more forbidding temperament...

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William James

. . . [we] read in the bystander's eyes the success or failure of our own conduct.

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William James

Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that assures the successful outcome of any venture.

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William James

Faith branches off the highroad before reason begins

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William James

Circumstance does not make me, it reveals me.

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William James

We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its ever so little scar...Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness,...

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William James

A man with no philosophy in him is the most inauspicious and unprofitable of all possible social mates.

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William James

Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void.

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William James

The teachers of this country, one may say, have its future in their hands.

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William James

Formula to live your dream: 1. Be bold. 2. Begin now, 3. No exceptions.

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William James

Fatalism, whose solving word in all crises of behavior is All striving is vain, will never reign supreme, for the impulse to take life strivingly is indestructible in the race. Moral creeds which speak...

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William James

All religions begin with the cry Help.

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William James

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...

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William James

It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. By being religious we establish ourselves...

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William James

There is an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness.

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William James

Our colleges ought to have lit up in us a lasting relish for a better kind of man, a loss of appetite for mediocrities.

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William James

The greatest discovery of the 20th Century is that our attitude of mind determines our quality of life, not circumstances.

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William James

To kill time is not murder, it's suicide.

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William James

Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin...

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William James

[Religion is] the attempt to be in harmony with an unseen order of things.

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William James

What do believers in the Absolute mean by saving that their belief affords them comfort? They mean that since in the Absolute finite evil is ‘overruled’ already, we may, therefore, whenever we wish,...

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William James

The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more solemn silence. The darkness held a presence that was all the more felt because it was not seen. I could not any more have doubted that HE was...

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William James

The power to move the world is in the subconcious mind

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William James

Regarding mutual tolerance: It is negative in one sense, but positive in another. It absolutely forbids us to be forward in pronouncing on the meaninglessness of forms of existence other than our own;...

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William James

So you see that the process of education, taken in a large way, may be described as nothing but the process of acquiring ideas or conceptions, the best educated mind being the mind which has the largest...

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William James

Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground.

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William James

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...

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William James

The philosophy which is so important in each of us is not a technical matter; it is our more or less dumb sense of what life honestly and deeply means. It is only partly got from books; it is our individual...

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William James

If any one phrase could gather its (religion's) universal message, that phrase would be, - All is not vanity in this Universe, whatever the appearances may suggest.

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William James

From the Vedas we learn a practical art of surgery, medicine, music, house building under which mechanized art is included. They are encyclopedia of every aspect of life, culture, religion, science, ethics,...

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William James

For morality life is a war, and the service of the highest is a sort of cosmic patriotism which also calls for volunteers.

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William James

We are all potentially such sick men. The sanest and best of us are of one clay with lunatics and prison-inmates. And whenever we feel this, such a sense of the vanity of our voluntary career comes over...

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William James

The lunatic's visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony.

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William James

I take it that no man is educated who has never dallied with the thought of suicide.

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William James

There is no being capable of a spiritual life who does not have within him a jungle. Where the wolf constantly HOWLS and the OBSCENE bird of night chatters endlessly.

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William James

Cramming seeks to stamp things in by intense application immediately before the ordeal. But a thing thus learned can form but few associations.

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William James

Success plus Self-esteem equals Pretensions.

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William James

Language is the most imperfect and expensive means yet discovered for communicating thought.

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William James

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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William James

Truth, as any dictionary will tell you, is a property of certain of our ideas. It means their agreement, as falsity means their disagreement, with reality.

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William James

When happiness is actually in possession, the thought of evil can no more acquire the feeling of reality than the thought of good can gain reality when melancholy rules. To the man actively happy, from...

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William James

Man lives in only one small room of the enormous house of his consciousness.

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William James

If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn't seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.

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William James

It is as if there were in the human consciousness a sense of reality, a feeling of objective presence, a perception of what we may call something there, more deep and more general than any of the special...

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William James

Most people, probably, are in doubt about certain matters ascribed to their past. They may have seen them, may have said them, done them, or they may only have dreamed or imagined they did so.

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William James

To know psychology, therefore, is absolutely no guarantee that we shall be good teacher.

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William James

There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields (or whatever you please to call them), of knowledge, of feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and repass, and that...

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William James

Man, whatever else he may be, is primarily a practical being, whose mind is given him to aid in adapting him to this world's life

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William James

No reception without reaction, no impression without correlative expression, -this is the great maxim which the teacher ought never to forget.

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William James

Habit is second nature, or rather . . . ten times nature.

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William James

We must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and as carefully guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous.

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William James

It is astonishing how many mental operations we can explain when we have once grasped the principles of association

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William James

The entire routine of our memorized acquisitions is a consequence of nothing but the Law of Contiguity. The words of a poem, the formulas of trigonometry, the facts of history, the properties of material...

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William James

Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which an interest already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were, together; the interesting...

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William James

An idea will infect another with its own emotional interest when they have become both associated together into any sort of a mental total.

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William James

The most natively interesting object to a man is his own personal self and its fortunes. We accordingly see that the moment a thing becomes connected with the fortunes of the self, it forthwith becomes...

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William James

From all these facts there emerges a very simple abstract program for the teacher to follow in keeping the attention of the child: Begin with the line of his native interests, and offer him objects that...

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William James

The difference between an interesting and a tedious teacher consists in little more than the inventiveness by which the one is able to mediate these associations and connections, and in the dullness in...

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William James

If, then, you wish to insure the interest of your pupils, there is only one way to do it; and that is to make certain that they have something in their minds to attend with, when you begin to talk. That...

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William James

All that we need explicitly to note is that, the more the passive attention is relied on, by keeping the material interesting; and the less the kind of attention requiring effort is appealed to; the more...

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William James

But when all is said and done, the fact remains that some teachers have a naturally inspiring presence and can make their exercises interesting, whilst others simply cannot. And psychology and general...

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William James

If the topic be highly abstract, show its nature by concrete examples; if it be unfamiliar, make it figure as part of a story; if it be difficult, couple its acquisition with some prospect of personal...

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William James

An educated memory depends on an organized system of associations; and its goodness depends on two of their peculiarities: first, on the persistency of the associations; and, second, on their number.

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William James

Most men have a good memory for facts connected with their own pursuits.

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William James

In all primary school work the principle of multiple impressions is well recognized.

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William James

The art of remembering is the art of thinking. When we wish to fix a new thing in either our own mind or a pupil's, our conscious effort should not be so much to impress and retain it as to connect it...

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William James

Be patient and sympathetic with the type of mind that cuts a poor figure in examinations. It may, in the long examination which life sets us, come out in the end in better shape than the glib and ready...

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William James

In all this process of acquiring conceptions, a certain instinctive order is followed. There is a native tendency to assimilate certain kinds of conception at one age, and other kinds of conception at...

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William James

Feed the growing human being, feed him with the sort of experience for which from year to year he shows a natural craving, and he will develop in adult life a sounder sort of mental tissue, even though...

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William James

The gist of the matter is this: Every impression that comes in from without, be it a sentence which we hear, an object of vision, or an effluvium which assails our nose, no sooner enters our consciousness...

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William James

Volition . . . takes place only when there are a number of conflicting systems of ideas, and depends on our having a complex field of consciousness.

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William James

You perceive now, my friends, what your general or abstract duty is as teachers. Although you have to generate in your pupils a large stock of ideas, any one of which may be inhibitory, yet you must also...

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William James

Our volitional habits depend, then, first, on what the stock of ideas is which we have; and, second, on the habitual coupling of the several ideas with action or inaction respectively.

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William James

The exercise of voluntary attention in the schoolroom must therefore be counted one of the most important points of training that take place there; and the first-rate teacher, by the keenness of the remoter...

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William James

Considering the inner fitness of things, one would rather think that the very first act of a will endowed with freedom should be to sustain the belief in the freedom itself.

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William James

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every...

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William James

Give your dreams all you've got, and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.

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William James

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. which give happiness. Thomas Jefferson We never enjoy perfect happiness; our most fortunate...

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William James

The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition which shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn,...

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William James

No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed.

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William James

It seems the natural thing for us to listen whilst the Europeans talk.

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William James

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.

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William James

Individuality is founded in feeling

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William James

It is as important to cultivate your silence power as your word power.

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William James

The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal.

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William James

Between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves.

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William James

If an unusual necessity forces us onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain point, when, gradually or suddenly, it passes away and we are fresher than before!

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William James

Our life is always deeper than we know, is always more divine than it seems, and hence we are able to survive degradations and despairs which otherwise must engulf us.

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William James

O my Bergson, you are a magician, and your book is a marvel, a real wonder in the history of philosophy . . . In finishing it I found . . . such a flavor of persistent euphony, as of a rich river that...

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William James

Everyone knows that on any given day there are energies slumbering in him which the incitement's of that day do not call forth. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. The human individual...

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William James

The self-same atoms which, chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains; and the 'evolution' of brains, if understood, would be simply...

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William James

Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources...

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William James

At bottom, the whole concern of religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe.

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William James

Only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom.

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William James

Events are influenced by our very great desires.

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William James

Hardly ever can a youth transferred to the society of his betters unlearn the nasality and other vices of speech bred in him by the associations of his growing years. Hardly ever, indeed, no matter how...

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William James

The soul is stronger than its surroundings.

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William James

The more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful as the case may be.

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William James

Religion . . . shall mean for us the feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude.

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William James

Most of us can learn to live in perfect comfort on higher levels of power. Everyone knows that on any given day there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth....

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William James

The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.

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William James

There is but one unconditional commandment ... to bring about the very largest total universe of good which we can see.

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William James

The emotions aren't always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.

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William James

Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference.

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William James

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...

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William James

Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.

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William James

Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves ... But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground,...

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William James

How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young-or slender.

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William James

As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream.

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William James

The total possible consciousness may be split into parts which co-exist but mutually ignore each other.

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William James

The war-function has grasped us so far; but the constructive interests may some day seem no less imperative, and impose on the individual a hardly lighter burden.

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William James

No living person is sunk so low as not to be imitated by somebody.

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William James

The perfection of rottenness.

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William James

The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will... An education which should improve this faculty would be the education...

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William James

How many of us persist in a precipitate course which, but for a moment of heedlessness we might never have entered upon, simply because we hate to change our minds.

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William James

Contemporary philosophers, even the rationalistic minded ones, have on the whole agreed that no one has intelligibly banished the mystery of fact.

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William James

Pretend what we may, the whole man within us is at work when we form our philosophical opinions.

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William James

Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuits.

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William James

Agisci come se quel che fai, facesse la differenza. La fa!

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William James

An enormous mass of experience, both of homeopathic doctors and their patients, is invoked in favor of the efficacy of these remedies and doses.

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William James

Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own mind.

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William James

Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law.

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William James

Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation.

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William James

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.

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William James

All of our life is but a mass of small habits - practical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual - that bear us irresistibly toward our destiny.

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William James

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

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William James

There are no differences but differences of degree between different degrees of difference and no difference.

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William James

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

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William James

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.

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William James

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...

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William James

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

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William James

Belief creates the actual fact.

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William James

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

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William James

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

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William James

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.

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William James

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

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William James

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

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William James

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.

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William James

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.

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William James

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

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William James

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

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William James

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...

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William James

Wisdom is learning what to overlook.

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William James

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.

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William James

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

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William James

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

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William James

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

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William James

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.

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William James

To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.

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William James

This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.

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William James

Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.

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William James

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.

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William James

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

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William James

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.

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William James

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.

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William James

We don't laugh because we're happy - we're happy because we laugh.

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William James

Metaphysics means nothing but an unusually obstinate effort to think clearly.

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William James

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.

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William James

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.

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William James

Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.

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William James

To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.

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William James

Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.

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William James

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...

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William James

The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.

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William James

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

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William James

In the dim background of mind we know what we ought to be doing but somehow we cannot start.

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William James

Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.

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William James

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

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William James

There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man's lack of faith in his true Self.

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William James

Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.

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William James

The sovereign cure for worry is prayer.

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William James

If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.

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William James

It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.

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William James

The world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck.

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William James

Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.

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William James

There is an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness, and their companionship in the saintly life need in no way occasion surprise.

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William James

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

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William James

Those thoughts are truth which guide us to beneficial interaction with sensible particulars as they occur, whether they copy these in advance or not.

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William James

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.

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William James

If the grace of God miraculously operates, it probably operates through the subliminal door.

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William James

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

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William James

Man lives for science as well as bread.

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William James

The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.

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William James

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.

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William James

We are doomed to cling to a life even while we find it unendurable.

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William James

An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation.

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William James

Genius... means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.

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William James

Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.

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William James

Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case.

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William James

The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a man who deserves one.

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William James

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.

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William James

To be conscious means not simply to be, but to be reported, known, to have awareness of one's being added to that being.

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William James

We never fully grasp the import of any true statement until we have a clear notion of what the opposite untrue statement would be.

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William James

A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him.

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William James

An act has no ethical quality whatever unless it be chosen out of several all equally possible.

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William James

Our esteem for facts has not neutralized in us all religiousness. It is itself almost religious. Our scientific temper is devout.

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William James

The 'I think' which Kant said must be able to accompany all my objects, is the 'I breathe' which actually does accompany them.

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William James

The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths.

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William James

The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.

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William James

The ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives.

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William James

Time itself comes in drops.

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William James

To be a real philosopher all that is necessary is to hate some one else's type of thinking.

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William James

What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise although the philosophers generally call it recognition!

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William James

Where quality is the thing sought after, the thing of supreme quality is cheap, whatever the price one has to pay for it.

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William James

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.

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William James

One hearty laugh together will bring enemies into a closer communion of heart than hours spent on both sides in inward wrestling with the mental demon of uncharitable feeling.

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William James

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...

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William James

Do something everyday for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.

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William James

The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioned our characters in the wrong way.

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William James

Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness...

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William James

Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them.

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William James

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.

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William James

There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominate religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse.

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William James

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one's sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one's character may remain...

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William James

'Pure experience' is the name I gave to the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual categories.

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William James

Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and directly perceive...

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William James

To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced.

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William James

Whatever universe a professor believes in must at any rate be a universe that lends itself to lengthy discourse. A universe definable in two sentences is something for which the professorial intellect...

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William James

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.

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William James

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true.

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William James

The god whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.

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William James

I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather I fear to lose truth by the pretension to possess it already wholly.

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William James

This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness....

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William James

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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William James

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...

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William James

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

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William James

When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion, action will.

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William James

The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." "This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it." "Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help...

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William James

Real culture lives by sympathies and admirations, not by dislikes and disdains; under all misleading wrappings it pounces unerringly upon the human core.

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William James

What excites and interests the looker-on at life, what the romances and the statues celebrate, and the grim civic monuments remind us of, is the everlasting battle of the powers of light with those of...

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William James

Every sort of energy and endurance, of courage and capacity for handling life's evils, is set free in those who have religious faith.

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William James

We must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can. . . . The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the...

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William James

I myself believe that the evidence for God lies primarily in inner personal experiences.

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William James

Modern man . . . has not ceased to be credulous . . . the need to believe haunts him.

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William James

Belief is desecrated when given to unproved and unquestioned statements for the solace and private pleasure of the believer . . . It is wrong always, everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything...

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William James

I am tired of the position of the dried-up critic and doubter. The believer is the true full man. (from a biography of James by Robert D. Richardson)

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William James

Consciousness... does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as 'chain' or 'train' do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A...

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William James

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.

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William James

Science can tell us what exists; but to compare the worths, both of what exists and of what does not exist, we must consult not science, but what Pascal calls our heart.

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William James

There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual.

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William James

There is a voice inside which speaks and says, "This is the real me!"

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William James

Effort is a measure of a Man.

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William James

We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort.

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William James

The attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly.

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William James

A man of sense is never discouraged by difficulties; he redoubles his industry and his diligence, he perseveres and infallibly prevails at last.

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William James

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

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William James

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

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William James

Act in earnest and you will become earnest in all you do.

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William James

Action and feeling go together, and by regulating the action... we can directly regulate the feeling.

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William James

The education of attention would be an education par excellence

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William James

I wished by treating Psychology like a natural science, to help her become one.

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William James

The deepest hunger in human beings is the desire to be appreciated.

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William James

Ninety-nine hundredths or, possibly, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of our activity is purely automatic and habitual, from our rising in the morning to our lying down each night.

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William James

Spiritual energy flows in and produces effects in the phenomenal world.

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William James

If you give appreciation to people, you win their goodwill.

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William James

To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness,...

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William James

Philosophy is "an unusually stubborn attempt to think clearly.

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William James

We want all our friends to tell us our bad qualities; it is only the particular ass that does so whom we can't tolerate.

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William James

There is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after...

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William James

Every time a resolve or fine glow of feeling evaporates without bearing fruit, it is worse than a chance lost; it works to hinder future emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.

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William James

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.

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William James

Act the part and you will become the part.

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William James

The path to cheerfulness is to sit cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there.

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William James

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...

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William James

A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.

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William James

When a superior intellect and a psychopathic temperament coalesce in the same individual, we have the best possible condition for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical dictionaries.

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William James

'Facts' are the bounds of human knowledge, set for it, not by it.

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William James

The war for our Union, with all the constitutional issues which it settled, and all the military lessons which it gathered in, has throughout its dilatory length but one meaning in the eyes of history....

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William James

Science as such assuredly has no authority, for she can only say what is, not what is not.

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William James

Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile.

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William James

...These healers...my intellect has been unable to assimilate their theories....But their facts are patent and startling; and anything that interferes with the multiplication of such facts, and with our...

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William James

First... a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim that they themselves discovered...

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William James

You must bring out of each word its practical cash-value, set it at work within the stream of your experience.

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William James

We [may] answer the question: "Why is snow white?" by saying, "For the same reason that soap-suds or whipped eggs are white"-in other words, instead of giving the reason for a fact, we give another example...

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William James

The first effect of the mind growing cultivated is that processes once multiple get to be performed in a single act. Lazarus has called this the progressive "condensation" of thought. ... Steps really...

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William James

The function of ignoring, of inattention, is as vital a factor in mental progress as the function of attention itself.

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William James

When two minds of a high order, interested in kindred subjects, come together, their conversation is chiefly remarkable for the summariness of its allusions and the rapidity of its transitions. Before...

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William James

Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with, but where on this moonlit and dream-visited planet are they found?

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William James

To change one's life: a. Start immediately b. B. Do it flamboyantly c. No exceptions Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted.

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William James

Nature in her unfathomable designs had mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things hang indubitably together and determine each other's being but how or why, no mortal may ever know.

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William James

If I should throw down a thousand beans at random upon a table, I could doubtless, by eliminating a sufficient number of them, leave the rest in almost any geometrical pattern you might propose to me,...

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William James

A good hypothesis in science must have other properties than those of the phenomenon it is immediately invoked to explain, otherwise it is not prolific enough.

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William James

If WE claim only reasonable probability, it will be as much as men who love the truth can ever at any given moment hope to have within their grasp.

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William James

There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood bu those who hear it.

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William James

Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear.

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William James

It is your friends who make your world.

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William James

We hear in these days of scientific enlightenment a great deal of discussion about the efficacy of Prayer. Many reasons are given why we should not pray. Others give reasons why we should pray. Very little...

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William James

The greatest discovery of the 19th century was not in the realm of the physical sciences, but the power of the subconscious mind touched by faith. Any individual can tap into an eternal reservoir of power...

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William James

The good we do today becomes the happiness of tomorrow.

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William James

Equality is attainable as long as you are part of the majority.

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William James

Strength is a facade for the proud, weakness is a mask for the lazy.

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You are free when you gain back yourself,” Madame Wu said. “You can be as free within these walls as you could be in the whole world. And how could you be free if, however far you wander, you still...

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If, then, you wish to insure the interest of your pupils, there is only one way to do it; and that is to make certain that they have something in their minds to attend with, when you begin to talk. That...

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Obviously, when I learn about something new that I can do in my everyday life that makes a whole lot of sense and can help the environment, I do it. Eventually, it just becomes second nature. If we all...

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Yasmina Khadra

If you want your life to be a small part of eternity, to be lucid even in the heart of madness, love... Love with all your strength, love as though it is all you know how to do, love enough to make the...

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C. S. Lewis

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it...

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Genghis Khan

Not even a mighty warrior can brake a frail arrow when it is multiplied and supported by its fellows. As long as you brothers support one another and render assistance to one another, your enemies can...

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Samuel Rutherford

I exhort you and beseech you in the bowels of Christ, faint not, weary not. There is a great necessity of heaven; you must have it. All other things, as houses, lands, children, husband, friends, country,...

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Brother Lawrence

One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far at other times. You should keep it strictly in the presence of God; and...

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Shunryu Suzuki

When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop...

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D. H. Lawrence

no form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all there is in life, it seems to me. But I grant you,...

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Junot Diaz

We all dream dreams of unity, of purity; we all dream that there's an authoritative voice out there that will explain things, including ourselves. If it wasn't for our longing for these things, I doubt...

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Johannes Kepler

I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God from them, far far away from the boundaries of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged with me, I...

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Zhuangzi

Goods and possessions are no gain in his eyes. He stays far from wealth and honor. Long life is no ground for joy, nor early death for sorrow. Success is not for him to be pround of, failure is no shame....

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Robin McKinley

When you write your first novel you don't really know what you're doing. There may be writers out there who are brilliant, incisive and in control from their first 'Once upon a time'. I'm not one of them....

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Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Enjoy your life and be happy. Being happy is of the utmost importance. Success in anything is through happiness. More support of nature comes from being happy. Under all circumstances be happy, even...

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Frederick Buechner

In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all...

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Peter Selgin

How to avoid cliche at the root of conception? Practice sincerity. If we've come by ... material honestly, through our own personal experience or imagination, we may rightly claim it as our own. ... The...

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss