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64 Best Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes To Live By

Quote Graphic: It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. — Eleanor Roosevelt‍

Eleanor Roosevelt was far more than just the First Lady of the United States; she was a visionary, a humanitarian, and a relentless advocate for social justice. 

Throughout her lifetime, she used her influence to champion the rights of the marginalized, fight for gender equality, and promote world peace

Her fearless pursuit of a more equitable society led her to become one of the leading voices in human rights activism during the 20th century.

Her strong-willed nature, coupled with her compassionate insight, made her a compelling speaker and writer — as she touched on various social issues that continue to resonate today. From her active role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to her endless efforts to elevate the voices of the oppressed, Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy is a testament to the power of determination, empathy, and intellect.

We’ve collected some of Eleanor Roosevelt’s most inspiring quotes, which reflect her unwavering belief in the potential for human goodness and her unshakable commitment to justice. 

Whether you’re a student of history, an advocate for human rights, or simply someone looking to be inspired by one of the most influential women of the 20th century — these quotes offer a glimpse into the mind and heart of a true world-changer. 

Dive into the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt and discover how her words continue to inspire us to strive for a better, more compassionate world:

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The Best Quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt

Famous Quotes

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.’”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.’” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” — Eleanor Roosevelt‍

“The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“In the final analysis, a democratic government represents the sum total of the courage and the integrity of its individuals. It cannot be better than they are.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

“In the final analysis, a democratic government represents the sum total of the courage and the integrity of its individuals. It cannot be better than they are.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do…”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do…” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“When you know to laugh and when to look upon things as too absurd to take seriously, the other person is ashamed to carry through even if he was serious about it.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“When you know to laugh and when to look upon things as too absurd to take seriously, the other person is ashamed to carry through even if he was serious about it.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“The world of the future is in our making. Tomorrow is now.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow Is Now: It Is Today That We Must Create the World of the Future

“The world of the future is in our making. Tomorrow is now.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow Is Now: It Is Today That We Must Create the World of the Future‍

On Human Rights

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” — Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

“The UN is our greatest hope for future peace. Alone we cannot keep the peace of the world, but in cooperation with others we have to achieve this much longed-for security.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Person after person has said to me in these last few days that this new world we face terrifies them. I can understand how that feeling would arise unless one believes that men are capable of greatness beyond their past achievements… The time now calls for mankind as a whole to rise to great heights. We must have faith or we die.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Tolerance ought only to be a preliminary step which allows us to get to know other people, and which prevents us from setting up bars, just because they may be of a different race or religion. The real value of any relationship is the fact that we learn to like people in spite of our differences.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

“Tolerance ought only to be a preliminary step which allows us to get to know other people, and which prevents us from setting up bars, just because they may be of a different race or religion. The real value of any relationship is the fact that we learn to like people in spite of our differences.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

On Democracy

“Will people ever be wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders or to take away the freedom of other people?”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Will people ever be wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders or to take away the freedom of other people?” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’m enormously interested in freedom and retaining the right to have whatever economy we want and to shape it as we want and a having sufficient democracy so that the people actually hold their government in their own hands.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, in an interview

“I feel that unless we learn to live together as individuals and as groups, and to find ways of settling our difficulties without showing fear of each other and resorting to force, we cannot hope to see our democracy successful.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Our children should learn the general framework of their government and then they should know where they come in contact with the government, where it touches their daily lives and where their influence is exerted on the government. It must not be a distant thing, someone else’s business, but they must see how every cog in the wheel of a democracy is important and bears its share of responsibility for the smooth running of the entire machine.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow Is Now

“Obedience may have its uses, but it is no substitute for willing, uncoerced co-operation.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Democracy requires both discipline and hard work. It is not easy for individuals to govern themselves… It is one thing to gain freedom, but no one can give you the right to self-government. This you must earn for yourself by long discipline.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Democracy requires both discipline and hard work. It is not easy for individuals to govern themselves… It is one thing to gain freedom, but no one can give you the right to self-government. This you must earn for yourself by long discipline.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“True patriotism springs from a belief in the dignity of the individual, freedom and equality not only for Americans but for all people on earth, universal brotherhood and goodwill, and a constant striving toward the principles and ideals on which this country was founded.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, Common Sense Etiquette

“Our trouble is that we do not demand enough of the people who represent us. We are responsible for their activities… we must spur them to more imagination and enterprise in making a push into the unknown; we must make clear that we intend to have responsible and courageous leadership.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow Is Now

“A respect for the rights of other people to determine their forms of government will not weaken our democracy. It will inevitably strengthen it. One of the first things we must get rid of is the idea that democracy is tantamount to capitalism.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow is Now

“A respect for the rights of other people to determine their forms of government will not weaken our democracy. It will inevitably strengthen it. One of the first things we must get rid of is the idea that democracy is tantamount to capitalism.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, Tomorrow is Now

On Self-Esteem

“Be confident, not certain.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Be confident, not certain.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run, it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just one step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before… You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“No man is defeated without until he has first been defeated within.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“No man is defeated without until he has first been defeated within.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

On Love

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“Up to a certain point it is good for us to know that there are people in the world who will give us love and unquestioned loyalty to the limit of their ability. I doubt, however, if it is good for us to feel assured of this without the accompanying obligation of having to justify this devotion by our behavior.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“Love can often be misguided and do as much harm as good, but respect can do only good. It assumes that the other person’s stature is as large as one’s own, his rights as reasonable, his needs as important.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, It Seems to Me: Selected Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

About Life

“I could never be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“I could never be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Each of us has… all the time there is. Those years, weeks, hours, are the sands in the glass running swiftly away. To let them drift through our fingers is tragic waste. To use them to the hilt, making them count for something, is the beginning of wisdom.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Your life is your own. You mold it. You make it. All anyone can do is point out ways and means which have been helpful to others. Perhaps they will serve as suggestions to stimulate your own thinking until you know what it is that will fulfill you, will help you to find out what you want to do with your life.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“I think everyone, at some time in his life, has this happen to him, comes face to face with the bitter realization that he has failed in something that means a tremendous amount and probably in a relation that is close to him. Life teaches you that you cannot attain real maturity until you are ready to accept this harsh knowledge, this limitation in yourself, and make the difficult adjustment. Either you must learn to allow someone else to meet the need, without bitterness or envy, and accept it; or somehow you must make yourself learn to meet it. If you refuse to accept the limitation in yourself, you will be unable to grow beyond this point.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Nothing alive can stand still, it goes forward or back. Life is interesting only as long as it is a process of growth; or, to put it another way, we can only grow as long as we are interested.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“You can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“If anyone were to ask me what I want out of life I would say- the opportunity for doing something useful, for in no other way, I am convinced, can true happiness be attained.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“If anyone were to ask me what I want out of life I would say- the opportunity for doing something useful, for in no other way, I am convinced, can true happiness be attained.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

On Education

“All of life is a constant education.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Wisdom Of Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is a constant education.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, The Wisdom Of Eleanor Roosevelt

“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you can develop this ability to see what you look at, to understand its meaning, to readjust your knowledge to this new information, you can continue to learn and to grow as long as you live and you’ll have a wonderful time doing it.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“I am convinced that every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds. For one thing is sure: If they don’t make up their minds, someone will do it for them.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“I am convinced that every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds. For one thing is sure: If they don’t make up their minds, someone will do it for them.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

→ Read more inspirational teacher quotes

Short Quotes

“If you want a world ruled by law and not by force you must build up, from the very grassroots, a respect for law.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“If you want a world ruled by law and not by force you must build up, from the very grassroots, a respect for law.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Understanding is a two-way street.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

More Quotes

“When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart. Don’t be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren’t paying any attention to you. It’s your attention to yourself that is so stultifying. But you have to disregard yourself as completely as possible. If you fail the first time then you’ll just have to try harder the second time. After all, there’s no real reason why you should fail. Just stop thinking about yourself.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty, and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating and destructive effect upon society than the others.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“I hope the women of the United States will awaken to the full sense of the influence which they can wield if they accept the responsibility which all power implies.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“I hope the women of the United States will awaken to the full sense of the influence which they can wield if they accept the responsibility which all power implies.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“Our own land and our own flag cannot be replaced by any other land or any other flag. But you can join with other nations, under a joint flag, to accomplish something good for the world that you cannot accomplish alone.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

“I wish with all my heart that every child could be so imbued with a sense of the adventure of life that each change, each readjustment, each surprise — good or bad — that came along would be welcomed as part of the whole enthralling experience.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

“I wish with all my heart that every child could be so imbued with a sense of the adventure of life that each change, each readjustment, each surprise — good or bad — that came along would be welcomed as part of the whole enthralling experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

→ Read more women’s empowerment quotes & Women’s History Month quotes

Note: While the quote “Well-behaved women seldom make history” is often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt — it was actually said by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

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August 21, 2023 6:13 PM
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