William James (1842-1910) was an important philosopher and psychologist who, together with Charles Sanders Peirce , founded the philosophical school of pragmatism, which holds that the meaning of an idea must be sought in its practical effects, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth must be proven by the practical consequences of belief.

Phrases and famous quotes from psychologist William James

This author pronounced countless quotes with great meaning and wisdom . Below you can find some of his best reflections.

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1. Our vision of the world is shaped by what we choose to hear

We interpret the world based on our knowledge and our beliefs.

2. We’re ready to go wild for some reason. The difference between a good man and a bad man is the choice of cause

People can choose to be good or bad, depending on what is or is not socially accepted.

3. An idea, to be suggestive, must reach the individual in the form of a revelation

The ideas we value most are those that give us something.

4. Believes that life is worth living and that belief will help create the fact

The attitude we have towards life makes us act in a certain way.

5. It is our attitude at the beginning of something difficult, more than anything else, that will affect a successful outcome

Like the previous quote, a positive attitude will help us behave in a positive way.

6. Is life worth living? It all depends on the spender

It is up to us to live life to the fullest or to live anchored in the past.

7. It seems that action is followed by emotion, but in reality action and feeling go together; and by regulating action, which is under the control of the will, we can directly regulate emotion

William James was always interested in providing knowledge about why and how we humans experience emotions.

8. Studying the abnormal is the best way to understand the normal

A play on words that hides an idea that makes a lot of sense.

9. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook

Sometimes you have to put some things aside in order to move on.

10. Age is a high price to pay for maturity

Over the years, you grow up. That doesn’t mean you have to feel old.

11. Nothing is as tiring as leaving a task unfinished forever

A quote that talks about procrastination.

  • You can learn more about this phenomenon in our article: “Procrastination or the “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome: what it is and how to prevent it”

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

Happiness depends largely on what we want and strive for.

13. The habit is the enormous flywheel that moves society, its most valuable agent of conservation

William James devoted part of his life to learning more about people’s habits.

14. Belief creates the actual fact

What we think determines our action and the path we take.

15. The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes

The attitude we have has a big impact on the results we achieve.

16. To change life: start immediately. Do it ostentatiously

Action is essential to transform our daily lives. Without action there is no change.

17. It is always wrong, anywhere and for anyone, to believe something without sufficient evidence

We can’t believe in something without seeing that it’s really like that.

18. There is only one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in himself

When a person doesn’t believe in his chances, he’s destined to fail.

19. Many people think they are thinking when they are reorganizing their prejudices

Prejudices determine how we interpret our surroundings.

20. Anything you can hold firmly in your imagination can be yours

A quotation that refers to the wishes that people have.

21. The greatest thing in all education is to make our nervous system our ally rather than our enemy

A phrase by William James that invites deep reflection.

22. Common sense and a sense of humor are the same although moving at different speeds. Common sense is like a sense of humor but dancing

A reflection that has a certain touch of irony.

23. If you can change your mind you can change your life

In order to change, it is necessary to first transform the way of thinking.

24. Start being now what you will be from now on

To transform your life, you must first change your mind.

25. The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies without the sympathy of the community

People are social beings and therefore better united.

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

Acceptance is key to moving forward.

27. If an organism fails to fulfill its potential, it becomes sick

Personal development and self-fulfilment are key to greater satisfaction in life.

28. The deepest principle of human nature is the desire to be appreciated

People are social beings and we like to be respected and appreciated.

29. Whenever you are in conflict with someone, there is a factor that can make the difference between damaging the relationship or reinforcing it. That factor is attitude

Attitude is also important in interpersonal relationships. .

30. When you have to make a decision and you don’t, it is in itself a decision

Even if you don’t decide on something, you’ve made a decision not to decide.

31. In the depths of our minds we know what we should be doing but somehow we can’t get started

Sometimes it happens that we think about change but don’t take action.

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

Stress is often rooted in our beliefs.

33. As a general rule, we do not believe in facts and theories for which we are not prepared

We usually believe those things that fit best with our knowledge and beliefs.

34. I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing

The mind greatly influences our body and our actions.

35. The best argument I know for an immortal life is the existence of a deserving man

A phrase full of meaning and which makes the reader think deeply.

36. Act like what you do makes a difference. It does

Attitude is the key to success or failure.

37. Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power

The way we think has a great impact on our behavior.

38. Genius means little more than the ability to perceive in an unusual way

Geniuses are people with rare intelligence.

39. If you want a quality, act as if you already have it

Better to think you are good and act with confidence than to think you are bad and act with pessimism.

40. Everyone should do at least two things they hate every day, just to practice

A phrase that has a certain sense of humor but is very true.

41. A paradise of inner peace seems to be the result of faith

With faith we seek to be at peace with ourselves.

42. The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that lasts longer than it

When we enjoy doing something we like, time goes by and it seems not to move forward.

40. The ideas obtained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they will be able to have in their lives

Meaning that at that age a person thinks with the heart and not with the mind.

41. Nature’s most immovable barrier is that between one man’s thought and another’s

Differences in opinion between two people are often insurmountable.

42. Success or failure depends more on attitude than ability. Successful men act as if they have achieved something or enjoy something. Act, look, feel, as if you are successful and you will see impressive results

Our thoughts can act as limiting or empowering beliefs.

43. Compared to what we should be, we are half awake

William James always had great reflections like the one in this quote.

44. Wherever you are from, it is your own friends who make your world

Friendships are a big part of our lives, and they accompany us throughout our existence.

45. If you believe that feeling bad or worrying will change the past or future, you are living on another planet with a different reality

There’s no point in thinking about the past over and over again, it’s best to move on.

46. For most of us in our thirties, character has been established like plaster, and it will never soften again

As the years go by, it becomes more difficult to change.

47. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let go of the past, expand our sense of the now, and dissolve the fear in our minds

To change, it is necessary to be open to change and to have an open mind.

48. To be a real philosopher, all it takes is to hate someone else’s way of thinking

Not agreeing with the opinion of others can make us reflect deeply.

49. Each way of classifying a thing is only one way of handling it for a certain particular purpose

A quote about how people can be prejudiced.

50. Whenever two people meet, there are six people present. How does each person see himself, how does one person see the other, and how does each person really be

A funny quote that refers to how people see us as others see us.

51. As a rule we do not believe in facts and theories for which we have no use

A theory does not make much sense if it is not useful and applicable.

52. A sense of humor is a philosophical state of mind; it seems to tell nature that we don’t take it any more seriously than it takes us

Again, another date with a certain joking tone that’s about taking life seriously.

53. Life only has meaning if we give it meaning

There is no point in living life if we are constantly sad.

54. It is not easy to choose the path in the face of so many choices

William James reminds us that sometimes it can be difficult for us to make a choice about where we want to shoot.

55. Believe that life is worth living and that belief will help create the fact

Almost always, when we believe in our possibilities, we can achieve what we want.

56. We are like islands in the sea, separated from the surface but connected in the depth

A comparison of the islands with the way people are.

57. If we consider the world of geometrical relations, there sleeps the thousandth decimal place of Pi, although nobody ever tries to calculate it

A quote about the Pi number and geometrical relations. When something worries you, you usually take action to solve it.

58. The voluntary and sovereign path to joy, if we lose our joy, consists of proceeding with joy, acting and speaking with joy, as if that joy were already with us

We have no better choice than to face life with a positive attitude.

59. The uncalculated decimals of pi, sleep in a mysterious abstract realm, where they enjoy a weak reality, until they are calculated, they do not become fully real, and even then their reality is merely a matter of degree

The truth is not absolute, but that people can have different points of view.

60. If you are concerned enough about an outcome, you will probably do something about it

Negative thinking can be helpful in many circumstances.