“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
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;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson died over 100 years ago, but his words still resonate and remain relevant today.
Best known as a central figure of the American transcendental movement, Emerson was a thought leader, a philosopher, and writer who grew to value individualism and nature over more structured institutions like religion. He served as a mentor to Henry David Thoreau.
In a world that is increasingly complex and chaotic, often dragging us in multiple directions, Emerson’s words are a grounding balm.
He reminds us to become still, to tune into the small, sure voices within us, and do what we know we were meant to do. He teaches us to let go of distractions and “shoulds” and walk firmly down our own path, even if it’s not a well-trodden one.
To celebrate his birthday, here are 10 Emerson quotes to inspire, comfort, and keep us company on our paths:
1. “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
2. “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”
3. “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.”
4. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
5. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
6. “You are constantly invited to be what you are.”
7. “None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”
8. “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
9. “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, love to complete your life.”
10. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: Dennis Valente/Flickr
Editor: Leah Sugerman