60 Henry David Thoreau Quotes (On Life, Solitude, Nature)

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

Life QuotesSolitude QuotesNature Quotes – Simplicity QuotesFamous QuoteTakeaways – Further Readings

henry david thoreau quotes wisdom
Here are 60 of the best Henry David Thoreau quotes.

If you want to live a better and simpler life, you need to read Thoreau.

I discovered him in 2004.

I had just lost my girlfriend in a car accident.

Through his writings about simplicity, nature, and solitude, I was able to find inspiration, relief, and gain more self-knowledge.

And if you read carefully his quotes below, you’ll certainly find insights into the value of

  • Friendship
  • Spirituality
  • Presence
  • Journaling
  • Thinking for yourself

All useful aspects for today’s modern world.

I hope you’ll love Thoreau’s quotes as much as I did.

Happy reading!

More philosophers

Henry David Thoreau Quotes On Life

henry david thoreau quotes true work word friend wisdom

Be true to your work, your word, and your friend. Henry David Thoreau

Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it. Henry David Thoreau

It’s the beauty within us that makes it possible for us to recognize the beauty around us. The questions is not what you look at, but what you see. Henry David Thoreau

You think that I am impoverishing myself withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society. Henry David Thoreau

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around. Henry David Thoreau

That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves. Henry David Thoreau

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. Henry David Thoreau

Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams. Henry David Thoreau


henry david thoreau quotes think yourself others wisdom

Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you. Henry David Thoreau

The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this? Henry David Thoreau

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. Henry David Thoreau

Love must be as much a light as it is a flame. Henry David Thoreau

There is no remedy for love but to love more. Henry David Thoreau

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. Henry David Thoreau

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. Henry David Thoreau

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. Henry David Thoreau

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes man thinks himself wisdom

What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Henry David Thoreau

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. Henry David Thoreau

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. Henry David Thoreau

When we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen. Henry David Thoreau

I think we may safely trust a good deal more than we do. Henry David Thoreau

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. Henry David Thoreau

Enthusiasm is a supernatural serenity. Henry David Thoreau

Things do not change; we change. Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau Quotes On Solitude

henry david thoreau quotes lost begin understand ourselves wisdom

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. Henry David Thoreau

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Henry David Thoreau

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. Henry David Thoreau

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. Henry David Thoreau

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. Henry David Thoreau

Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep on your own track, then. Henry David Thoreau

A man thinking or working is always alone. Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau Quotes On Nature

henry david thoreau quotes walk woods taller trees wisdom

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. Henry David Thoreau

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. Henry David Thoreau

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth. Henry David Thoreau

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau

Morning brings back the heroic ages. Henry David Thoreau

Wildness is the preservation of the world. Henry David Thoreau

Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled. Henry David Thoreau

All good things are wild and free. Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes On Simplicity

henry david thoreau quotes greatest skill want little wisdom

My greatest skill has been to want little. Henry David Thoreau

That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest. Henry David Thoreau

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. Henry David Thoreau

I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day. Henry David Thoreau

Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul. Henry David Thoreau

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. Henry David Thoreau

It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about? Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes life frittered away simplify wisdom

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this. Henry David Thoreau

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. Henry David Thoreau

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. Henry David Thoreau

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed? Henry David Thoreau

It is a great art to saunter. Henry David Thoreau

The only way to tell the truth is to speak it with kindness. Only the words of a loving man can be heard. Henry David Thoreau

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. Henry David Thoreau

I make myself rich by making my wants few. Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes live life work hat wisdom

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat. Henry David Thoreau


What Is Thoreau’s Most Famous Quote?

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau

Key Takeaways

  • Simplify your life. Thoreau lived a minimalist lifestyle. He even spent two years living in a small cabin near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, USA. The lesson? Drop materialism and consumerism. Reduce your possessions to the vital few. Reduce clutter in your house. This will lead to less stress and a happier life.
  • Spend time in nature. Thoreau spent a large amount of time in the woods, contemplating and exploring. He believed in the spiritual power of nature. The lesson? Take time each day to go outside. Modern life often keeps us indoors. But spending more time in nature will lead to greater mental health.
  • Be present. Thoreau was keen on mindfulness, being present and alert to his surroundings. The lesson? Make a vow to spend less time on your smartphone and more time with people you love. Ditch notifications and distractions. Be present for what truly counts: your friends, your work, and your health.
  • Question authority and injustice. Thoreau believed that individuals had a moral duty to resist unjust laws. This idea later influenced civil rights leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The lesson? Stand for what’s right. Defend your friends. Fight for social and environmental causes. Engage in peaceful protests against climate change. Ask questions to your political leaders.
  • Journal. Thoreau was a dedicated journal keeper. This helped him gain self-knowledge and insights. The lesson? Keep a journal. Ask yourself questions and reflect. The more self-understanding you have, the more inner peace you can gain.

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

September 12, 2023

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