William James Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old william james quotes, william james sayings, and william james proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.


Habit is thus the enormous flywheel 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 of the poor.      

William James

The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man's nature.     

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!     

William James

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

William James

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

William James

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.     

William James

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

William James

Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.     

William James

Invention, using the term most broadly, and imitation, are the two legs, so to call them, on which the human race historically has walked.     

William James

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

William James

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

William James

Immortality is one of the great spiritual needs of man. The churches have constituted themselves the official guardians of the need, with the result that some of them actually pretend to accord or to withhold it from the individual by their conventional sacraments.     

William James

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

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.     

William James

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

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.      

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 crocodiles and boa-constrictors.     

William James

The trail of the human serpent is thus over everything.     

William James

Impulse without reason is not enough, and reason without impulse is a poor makeshift.     

William James

The impulse to take life strivingly is indestructible in the race.     

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.     

William James

Real servants don't try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for His purposes.     

William James

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

William James

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

William James

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

William James

That which is most personal, is most interesting.     

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

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

William James

To leap across an abyss, one is better served by faith than doubt.      

William James

We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, never to be undone.     

William James