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100 Best Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Leadership, Human Rights & Friendship

Eleanor Roosevelt served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms in office.

Last Updated: December 16, 2022 by Team

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and human rights activist. Eleanor was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. president. She married her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would later become the 32nd president of the United States of America. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, making her the longest-serving First Lady of the United States. Following her husband’s death, President Harry S. Truman appointed Eleanor as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. and she would later become chair of the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission. where she contributed to what she considered her greatest achievement: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She died on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78.

President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements. By the time of her death, Eleanor Roosevelt was regarded as “one of the most esteemed women in the world”; The New York Times called her “the object of almost universal respect” in an obituary. In 1999, she was ranked ninth in the top ten of Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. Though controversial at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt is today remembered as one of America’s most important women leaders.

We’ve compiled a list of top 100 Eleanor Roosevelt quotes on Leadership, Human Rights, Fear, and Friendship. Scroll down to start reading, or jump to a specific chapter/section by clicking one of the links below.

Top 100 Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes And Sayings

Top 10 Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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

“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 have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“My experience has been that work is almost the best way to pull oneself out of the depths.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

A man who never graduated from school might steal a freight car. But a man who attends college and graduates as a lawyer might steal the whole railroad.  THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Leadership

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“A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping-stone to the optimist.”

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Human Rights

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“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 attention to you.”

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Life

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“Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun.”

“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.”

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

“It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else . . . you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”

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

“When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor.”

“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”

“One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”

“Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

“Your ambition should be to get as much life out of living as you possibly can, as much enjoyment, as much interest, as much experience, as much understanding. Not simply be what is generally called a ‘success.”

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”

“Choose a challenge instead of competence.”

“All of life is a constant education.”

“Since everybody is an individual, nobody can be you. You are unique. No one can tell you how to use your time. It is yours. Your life is your own. You mold it. You make it.”

“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.”

“Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”

“Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday.”

“Your life is your own. You mold it. You make it. All anyone can do is to 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.”

“It seems to me of great importance to teach children respect for life.”

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.”

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

“Life is like a parachute jump, you’ve got to get it right the first time.”

“Life has got to be lived – that’s all there is to it. At seventy, I would say the advantage is that you take life more calmly. You know that ‘this, too, shall pass!”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Liberalism

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“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

“Every time you meet a situation you 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 were before.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Fear

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“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

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

“We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life. In a real sense, by the time we are adults, we are the sum total of the choices we have made.”

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

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

“A great deal of fear is a result of just not knowing. We do not know what is involved in a new situation. We do not know whether we can deal with it. The sooner we learn what it entails, the sooner we can dissolve our fear.”

“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 have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run, it is easier.”

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”

“The very next thing you need to be doing is the thing that terrifies you the most.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Friendship

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“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

“Before we can make friends with anyone else, we must first make friends with ourselves.”

“If you lose money you lose much, If you lose friends you lose more, If you lose faith you lose all.”

“Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on War

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“Hate and force cannot be in just a part of the world without having an effect on the rest of it.”

“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Love

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“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.”

“Enjoy every minute you have with those you love, my dear, for no one can take joy that is past away from you. It will be there in your heart to live on when the dark days come.”

“The giving of love is an education in itself.”

“The basis of world peace is the teaching which runs through almost all the great religions of the world. Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

“Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes on Women’s Right

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“The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.”

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”

“Campaign behavior for wives: Always be on time. Do as little talking as humanly possible. Lean back in the parade car so everybody can see the president.”

Inspirational Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

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“Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

“Courage is exhilarating.”

“It is a brave thing to have courage to be an individual; it is also, perhaps, a lonely thing. But it is better than not being an individual, which is to be nobody at all.”

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

“Have convictions. Be friendly. Stick to your beliefs as they stick to theirs. Work as hard as they do.”

“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.”

“The only things one can admire at length are those one admires without knowing why.”

“I never waste time looking back.”

“If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault.”

“Understanding is a two-way street.”

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”

“Ambition is pitiless. Any merit that it cannot use it finds despicable.”

“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.”

“When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.”

“It is not more vacation we need – it is more vocation.”

“What you don’t do can be a destructive force.”

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.”

“The future is literally in our hands to mold as we like. But we cannot wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is now.”

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.”

“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.”

“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Work is always an antidote to depression.”

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”

“There are practical little things in housekeeping which no man really understands.”

“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.”

“Think as little as possible about yourself and as much as possible about other people.”

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

“Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.”

“Anger is one letter short of danger.”

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

“No man is defeated without until he has first been defeated within.”

“Strength that goes wrong is even more dangerous than weakness that goes wrong.”

“Character building begins in our infancy and continues until death.”

“The mind must be trained, rather than the memory.”

“What one has to do usually can be done.”

“I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”

“Only a man’s character is the real criterion of worth.”


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Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the world’s most widely incredible and influential woman of her time. Eleanor Roosevelt transformed the office of the First Lady, as well as the way Americans viewed the role of women in public life.She continues to inspire people of all backgrounds and political persuasions to strive for the greatness that’s within us all.

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