Quotes by William James


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

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
– William James
With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially paved.
– William James
Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
– William James
This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.
– William James
As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.
– William James
Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
– William James
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
– William James
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
– William James
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.
– William James
There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.
– William James
Wisdom is learning what to overlook.
– 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.
– 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 has no use. No faith in anything of that cheap kind!
– William James
We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.
– 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.
– 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.
– William James
Truth is what works.
– William James
To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal.
– William James
To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.
– William James