Top 10 Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance"

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a prolific essayist, poet, lecturer, and philosopher who was famous for the rise of the transcendentalism and the New Thought movement within the 19th century.

Inspired by philosophies such as Romanticism, Kantian, and Platonism, Transcendentalism revolves in the belief that people are at best when independent, excluding society and other external influences. Instincts and a relationship of nature are necessary for perceiving the world. The movement shares many similarities to Unitarianism from where it originated - a theological movement which revolves in the belief that a trinity does not exist and there is only one god.

The essay on Self-Reliance emphasizes that instincts and independence are necessary and the individual must "trust thyself" rather than conforming into the norms of society and its expectations.
The Top Ten
1 To be great is to be misunderstood

Followed shortly after the "foolish consistency" quote. Even famous people of history were thought to be misunderstood, as Emerson quotes - "Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh."

2 For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasures

A reminder that society has high expectations regarding what you do. When people blame you for not aligning within their standards, it's usually their problem, not yours.

3 A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

In short, have a flexible mind. Do not repeat the same mistakes. You realize at some point that you are in the wrong, but why take the mistake of sticking to that error knowing that the outcome will always be the same?

4 Travelling is a fool's paradise

There are people who fantasize about going to places with unrealistic expectations on hand, only to be disappointed if their expectations of said place don't align with them. Consider this a word of advice that "no country is perfect".
Full quote: "Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go."

5 Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string.

This is the first step to maintain some confidence for yourself and to build yourself up. How will stand within your own ground? Trust yourself, but expect to fail occasionally. Rather than losing faith you can use that failure as an opportunity to avoid doing the mistake as before. A simple saying, but hard to follow for some. High expectations on goals are an issue when following your own path, which leads into disappointment whenever we fail to reach our expectations. A solution to this problem is to divide goals into smaller goals, something that can be realistically achievable to you.

6 But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature...

A saying that you cannot change the past, and attempting to go to a past you see as "good" is an escapism that will rarely leave you satisfied. This also applies in the future, as many people tend to worry what the future may be like for them instead of being in the moment. You have control on what you do in the present, but not in the past or future, which plenty of people worry about. Live in accordance with nature and deal with the present. That way your life will be less stressful to you.

7 What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.

Some people can feel obligated to do acts in the concern of others, whether it's for self-esteem or approval even when unnecessary. This is an unhealthy perspective as people can judge you regardless of what you do.
Another way to interpret it is that don't put too much concern how people may think about you or your work. You cannot control people's thoughts, so why worry?

Totally agree with this. To simply say this. Humans should never fret themselves even they are pressured enough to see their surroundings with panicked eyes. And that's true.

8 There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance
9 Insist on yourself; never imitate

Simple and straightforward. To think about it, our opinions, views, beliefs, and even ourselves are influenced by many people which in result, some even adopt their traits or views and incorporate it to their own. Tread your own path, not others'.

10 Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

Your thoughts and how you react to events, things, and people are also major factors that determine whether they give you stress or peace. This means letting go of events you can't control and unnecessary things that upset you.

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