77 William James Quotes (Self Belief)

Welcome to our collection of William James Quotes!

Top 10 William James Quotes

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James Quotes
Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.
If you want a quality, act as if you already had it. William James Quotes
Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling. 
Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling.  William James
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.William James Quotes
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William James
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.
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. William James
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James
Procrastination is attitude's natural assassin. Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.  William James
If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. 
If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.  William James
If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing with a different reality system.
If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing with a different reality system.  William James
We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.William James Quotes 
We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.  William James
If you can change your mind, you can change your life. 
If you can change your mind, you can change your life.  William James

William James Quotes on Life

Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile.
Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile. William James Quotes
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. William James
Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear
Our view of the world is truly shaped by what we decide to hear. William James
Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.
Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world. William James
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. William James
Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours.
Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours. William James
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.William James Quotes
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. William James
Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings.William James Quotes
Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings. William James
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. William James
Sometimes we are more limited by attitudes than by opportunities. 
Sometimes we are more limited by attitudes than by opportunities.  William James
To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.
To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. William James
The community dies without the impulse of the individual.  The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community. 
The community dies without the impulse of the individual.  The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.  William James
Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.William James Quotes
Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. William James
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. William James
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is, after all, a chain. William James Quotes
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is, after all, a chain.  William James
There is but one cause of human failure.  And that is man's lack of faith in his true self.William James Quotes
There is but one cause of human failure.  And that is man’s lack of faith in his true self.  William James
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.  William James
A person has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize them. William James Quotes
A person has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize them.  William James
Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system.William James Quotes
Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system.  Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them.  William James

More Quotes from William James

Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. William James Quotes
Needs and struggles are what excite and inspire us.William James Quotes 
Needs and struggles are what excite and inspire us.  William James
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.William James Quotes 
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.  William James
Belief creates the actual fact.
Belief creates the actual fact. William James
We don't laugh because we're happy--we're happy because we laugh.
We don’t laugh because we’re happy–we’re happy because we laugh.  William James
Truth is what works.William James Quotes 
Truth is what works.  William James
Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.William James Quotes
Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results. William James
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. 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.
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working.  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.  William James
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. William James
When you have a choice and don't make it, that in is in itself a choice.
When you have a choice and don’t make it, that in is in itself a choice.  William James
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. William James
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.William James Quotes 
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.  William James
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working.
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. 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. William James
Action may not bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. William James Quotes
Action may not bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.  William James
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. 
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.  William James
Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. 
Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.  William James
Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, 'This is the real me,' and when you have found that attitude, follow it.'
Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.’  William James
Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.William James Quotes
Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power. William James (Visit our Optimism Quotes page for more optimistic inspiration)
Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each person as they see themselves, each person as the other person sees them, and each person as they really are.
Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each person as they see themselves, each person as the other person sees them, and each person as they really are. William James
Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.
Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results. William James (This quote is also in our Success Quotes Collection)
It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.William James Quotes
It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. William James
We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.
We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep. William James

William James Biography

William James was an American philosopher and psychologist. He was born on January 11, 1842, in New York, New York, and died on August 26, 1910, in Chocorua, New Hampshire. He was a leader of the pragmatist movement in philosophy, helped start the functionalism movement in psychology, and was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, earning him the title ‘Father of American psychology.’

James was born into a wealthy family, the son of Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr. and the brother of notable novelist Henry James and diarist Alice James.

Early on, James aspired to be either an artist or a scientist. He studied painting with William Morris Hunt while the family was living in Newport, Rhode Island, around 1858, but he eventually chose a different path in his life.
In 1861, James enrolled at the Lawrence Scientific School, where he delved into such topics as chemistry and physiology.He went on to study at Harvard Medical School in 1864. The following year, James took a break from his education to join Louis Agassiz‘s expedition to the Amazon basin. He also spent time in Germany in 1867 to recuperate from some health issues, including back pain, sight problems, and depression.After earning his medical degree in 1869, James decided not to practice medicine.
Throughout his years at Harvard Medical School, James studied physiology in depth, and this basic knowledge greatly aided and molded his future psychological framework.He eventually became a lecturer at Harvard University. Initially a lecturer in physiology, James went on to teach psychology and philosophy as well as producing a masterwork titled The Principles of Psychology(1890), which had two books with a total of 1200 pages and took 12 years to finish.
The 1892 edition of Psychology: The Briefer Course aimed to provide a less rigorous introduction to the topic. In these works, he criticized both the English associationist school and the Hegelianism of his time, which he saw as competing dogmas with little to offer in terms of explanation. He also tried to change the way people thought about the human mind, seeing it as naturally purposeful and selective.
James has made the following theoretical contributions to psychology:
Functionalism: James didn’t agree with the structuralists’ emphasis on self-reflection and breaking down mental events into their smallest parts. Instead, James looked at an event as a whole, taking into account how the environment affects how people act.
James-Lange Theory of Emotion: The James-Lange theory of emotions says that something causes a physical response, which we then try to figure out what it means. These reactions are thought to be a source of our emotions. James and Carl Lange, a Danish physiologist, came up with the idea on their own.Pragmatism: Pragmatism was a major theme in James’ writings. Pragmatism holds that an idea’s correctness can never be verified. Instead of focusing on an idea’s “cash worth,” or how valuable it is, James suggested that we look at its “cash value.”In addition to his enormous influence, many of James’ students went on to have prosperous and influential careers in psychology. Some of James’ students included Mary Whiton CalkinsEdward Thorndike, and G. Stanley Hall.

James was a living example of the ideology he preached. It fit his rich, colorful literary style. It shaped his views on unproven remedies like Christian Science and militarism. It turned him into an anti-imperialist who stood up for the small, different, new, and weak wherever and whenever they showed up. It has served more as a seed for fresh ideas in the minds of others than as a blueprint for others to follow.

Must Read
The Principles of Psychology

Further Reading

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