Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (born 28 August 1749, Goethe House, Frankfurt, Germany – died 22 March 1832, Weimar, Germany) was a German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic. He is best known for his literary works, such as The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) and Faust (Part I, 1808; Part II, 1832). Goethe is considered to be the greatest German literary figure of the modern era.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart. If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be. You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Rest not! Life is sweeping by; Go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, Leave behind to conquer time. None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. I love those who yearn for the impossible. Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, power and grace. Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow. Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower. We know accurately only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases. We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe. Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time. Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success. A person hears only what they understand. To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking. The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become. There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want. First and last, what is demanded of genius is love of truth. If I love you, what business is it of yours? The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it. In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance. Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you. There is strong shadow where there is much light. Nothing is worth more than this day. Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image. There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. Love does not dominate; it cultivates. A world without love would be no world. Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes. Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill. If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like. Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at. Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that. He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own. He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. Why look for conspiracy when stupidity can explain so much. Every second is of infinite value. I have so much in me, and the feeling for her absorbs it all; I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing. There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden. Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together. Everything is hard before it is easy. Everything that liberates our mind without at the same time imparting self-control is pernicious. The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves. To rule is easy, to govern difficult. Life teaches us to be less harsh with ourselves and with others. By seeking and blundering we learn. All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own. I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in whose presence I seemed to be more than I really was, because I was all that I could be. I can tell you, honest friend, what to believe: believe life; it teaches better that book or orator. One must be something, in order to do something. Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are. The coward only threatens when he is safe. Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity. What is not started today is never finished tomorrow. Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.