William James Quotes – The Father of American psychology

William James was a philosopher and psychologist who is best known for his work on the philosophical concept of pragmatism. He was also a prolific writer, and his quotes are still popular today. Here are some of our favorite William James quotes.

William James Quotes

William James was born in 1842 in New York City. He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a philosopher and theologian, and Mary Walsh. James was heavily influenced by his father’s thoughts and teachings, which shaped his own philosophy.

James attended Harvard University, where he studied medicine. He later turned to philosophy and became a professor at Harvard. James was also a prolific writer, publishing many books and articles.

He is considered to be one of the most important thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. William James was a leading figure in the philosophical movement known as pragmatism. He believed that the only way to know the truth was to experiment and test it. James was also a strong advocate of the power of the human mind. He believed that the human mind could achieve anything if it set its mind to it. James passed away in 1910.

The following are among his most influential books: The Principles of Psychology, a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology; Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy; and The Varieties of Religious Experience, an investigation of different forms of religious experience, including theories on mind-cure.

74 William James Quotes

william james quotes on life
  1. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”

2. “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

3. “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”

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

5. “I will act as if what i do makes a difference.”

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

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

8. “Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task”

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

10. “To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds,”

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

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

william james quotes

William James Quotes About Life

13. “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.”

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

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

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

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

18. “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.”

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

20. “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

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

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

Famous William James Quotes

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

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

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

26. “Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.”

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

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

29. “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”

30. “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.”

31. “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. ”

32. “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.”

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

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

Best William James Quotes

35. “A man has as many social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.”

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

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

38. “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”

39. “A difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.”

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

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

42. “None of us are ever who we were yesterday.”

Thought-Provoking William James Quotes

43. “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.”

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

45. “In order to disprove the assertion that all crows are black, one white crow is sufficient.”

46. “Faith is when you believe something that you know ain’t true.”

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

48. “Whatever is beyond this narrow rational consciousness we mistake for our only consciousness.”

49. “Freedom is only necessity understood.”

50. “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.”

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

52. “To change one’s life: Begin now. Be bold. No exceptions.”

53. “A man’s Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house.”

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

55. “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.”

56. “I fear to lose truth by the pretension to possess it already wholly.”

57. “Great emergencies and crisis show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.”

58. “Wisdom is seeing something in a non-habitual manner.”

59. “Our intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a pupa in a chrysalis. It must at any cost keep on speaking terms with the universe that engendered it.”

60. “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.”

61. “To know is one thing, and to know for certain that we know is another. One”

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

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

64. “He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he tried and failed.”

65. “Act as if what you do makes a difference, it does.”

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

67. “Man can never have enough without having too much.”

68. “When once a decision is reached and execution is the order of the day, dismiss absolutely all responsibility and care about the outcome.”

69. “In its broadest term, religion says that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in rightful relations to it.”

70. “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.”

71. “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

72. “Every way of classifying a thing is but a way of handling it for some particular purpose.”

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

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

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