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12 Amazing Sayings about Happiness from Philosopher William James

Happiness is a continuation of happenings which are not resisted - Deepak Chopra

It’s often said that William James (1) was to the USA, what Sigmund Freud was to Europe.

William James was an elderly man when he finally met Freud at a lecture in 1909. They walked and talked together for a while. Nobody knows what their conversation was about. Must have been interesting.

There’s no doubt that James has been one of the world’s most original thinkers and, although written over a hundred years ago, his sayings about happiness add up to a formula for living your best life that’s timeless.

During his lifetime, he wrote a whole library of academic works. If you haven’t got the time, or inclination to read them, here are some of his best bits:

12 sayings about happiness

1. “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

2. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

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

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

5. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

6. “We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”

7. “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”

8. “To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately, 2. Do it flamboyantly, 3. No exceptions.”

9. “Anything you may hold firmly in your imagination can be yours.”

10. “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.”

11. “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.”

12. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”


Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.