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Quotes That Explore the Range of Human Emotions

Given the deeply intricate nature of the human brain, we’re all inherently susceptible to a wide range of emotions. From euphoric bliss to heart-wrenching sadness, feelings may be brought on by specific events or creep in as if from nowhere. But whether those feelings are positive or negative, what’s important is that we seek to embrace and understand them rather than repress them.

As early modern psychology began examining the human psyche in the 19th century, theories emerged about several distinct emotional categories. One pioneer in the field, William James, believed that standard human emotions included surprise, curiosity, fear, and anger. Paul Ekman later expanded upon James’ early thoughts and introduced the concept of six basic human emotions: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. As we learn more about the brain, recent studies suggest that there are dozens of unique classifications, implying that the array of human emotions is ever-expanding and virtually limitless.

While it may seem challenging to fully comprehend the way we feel at times, it’s important to express ourselves nonetheless: to laugh if we’re happy, cry if we’re sad, scream if we’re angry, or do whatever else feels natural to us. At the end of the day, we’re lucky to feel emotions on as deep and complex a level as we do. Here are 38 quotes that pertain to the range of human emotions.

Happiness

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
Thích Nhất Hạnh

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But also I say this: that light / is an invitation / to happiness, / and that happiness, / when it’s done right, / is a kind of holiness, / palpable and redemptive.
Mary Oliver

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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

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One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats, and if some of these can be inexpensive and quickly procured so much the better.
Iris Murdoch

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Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness — it has no taste.
Charlotte Brontë

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Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It's the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.
Sharon Draper

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Sadness

You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.
Jonathan Safran Foer

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Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.
Kahlil Gibran

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The good life is not one immune to sadness but one in which suffering contributes to our development.
Alain de Botton

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Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak / Whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
William Shakespeare

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What brings us to tears will lead us to grace. Our pain is never wasted.
Bob Goff

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Fear

Don’t believe every worried thought you have. Worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate.
Renee Jain

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If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
Marcus Aurelius

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I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
Rosa Parks

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Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.
Judy Blume

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Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Bertrand Russell

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Excitement

Don't plan it all. Let life surprise you a little.
Julia Alvarez

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Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.
Emily Dickinson

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If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens.
Fay Weldon

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I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.
Jack Kerouac

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Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
Les Brown

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Anger

Hurt gives way to bitterness, bitterness to anger. Travel too far that road and the way is lost.
Terry Brooks

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You can't shake hands with a clenched fist.
Indira Gandhi

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Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.
Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Let frustration fuel inspiration.
Sonia Boyce

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I can become quite angry and burning in anger, but I have never been bitter. Bitterness is a corrosive, terrible acid. It just eats you and makes you sick.
Maya Angelou

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Regret

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
Søren Kierkegaard

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You must believe that your past is not your future.
Gayle Carson

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There are two kinds of guilt … the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.
Sabaa Tahir

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We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Shyness

You got a chance to go up and say something? Don’t be shy. No matter how it comes out, just let it come out.
Fiona Apple

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You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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If the risk is fully aligned with your purpose and mission, then it’s worth considering.
Peter Diamandis

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It's not your job to be likable. It's your job to be yourself. Someone will like you anyway.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Freedom lies in being bold.
Robert Frost

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What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.
Brené Brown

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Featured image credit: BLACKWHITEPAILYN/ Shutterstock

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About the Author
Bennett Kleinman
Bennett is a staff writer at Optimism as well as a freelance comedy writer. He's based in New York City.
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