The Inspirational Mind of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Quotes)

Today marks the 135th anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's death. We look at some of the most inspiring quotes from the American Transcendentalist philosopher.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson Photo

Ralph Waldo Emerson, circa 1870.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the most influential American intellectuals of the 19th century. His writings and exploration of non-Western philosophies informed his way of looking at mankind and nature and also shaped the minds of future American writers and thinkers for generations to come.

In honor of the 135th year of Emerson's death, here are some of his most inspiring thoughts on individuality, humanity, and the universe.

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

Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.

To be great is to be misunderstood.

Always do what you are afraid to do.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.

To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set your own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force - that thoughts rule the world.

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.