Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Emerson: Champion of Individualism

(This is my fourth in a series of select quotes by great authors.)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. He was a champion of individualism, and a critic of the countervailing pressures of society. Emerson's nature was more philosophical than naturalistic.
He disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

-To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

-Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

-To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

-Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

-It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.

-What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

-Always do what you are afraid to do.

-Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

-Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Selected by quoteflections.

-Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.

-The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

-Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

-All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

-Be not the slave of your own past - plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.

-Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.

-There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

Labels: quotes, quotations, reflections, instructional, inspirational, life lessons, insights, self help, great author series