Human Nature Quotes

Most popular human nature quotes

The injuries we do and those we suffer are seldom weighed in the same scales.
People don't believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves. What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.

leadership persuasion

The ferocity with which a dog defends its bone tells us a great deal more about the nature of the dog than the quality of the bone.
Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them apart.


Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man's, I mean.

cynical envy

Consider the two levers for moving men: interest and fear.


Here all mankind is equal; rich and poor alike, they love their children.


The first, and hardest, step to wisdom: avert the standard assumption that people know what they want.
When you identify as part of a group, your opinions tend to be biased toward the group consensus.


Appearances give us more pleasure than reality, especially when they help to satisfy our egos.

appearances ego

People are much less interested in what you are trying to show them than in what you are tying to hide.
When people call you intelligent it is almost always because they agree with you. Otherwise they just call you arrogant.


Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.

dating religion

All worship money.


Human nature will not change.
The average person thinks he isn't.


All in men is association and habit.
Men hate those to whom they have to lie.


We never forgive those who make us blush.


There is pleasure in hardship heard about.


One is vain by nature, modest by necessity.

modesty vanity

Ten thousand men possess ten thousand hopes.


Man is always as wicked as his needs require.
The man who can't dance thinks the band is no good.


The state of man is changeableness, ennui, anxiety.
Even the best of us are at least part-time bastards.
Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.


Man is made by his beliefs. As he believes, so he is.
— Bhagavad Gita


It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.


Money changes people just as often as it changes hands.


Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.
The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.


Our faults irritate us most when we see them in others.
— Dutch proverb

judging proverbs shortcomings

Gain does not give as much pleasure as loss gives grief.
— Greek proverb

Greek proverbs proverbs

What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.


No two men are alike, and both of them are happy for it.
When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.
A man never tells you anything until you contradict him.


It's not enough that I should succeed—others should fail.


Little things console us because little things afflict us.

problems solutions

A man will fight harder for his interests than his rights.

rights self-interest

We all know a fool when we see one—but not when we are one.


People don't really change, they just become better actors.
Some people will believe anything if it is whispered to them.


Human nature has only two primal passions—to get and to beget.
The moment after Christmas every child thinks of his birthday.
A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience.


Men may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.
The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.
Some people march to a different drummer—and some people polka.
— Los Angeles Times Syndicate


The longer we live, the more we find we are like other persons.

age equality other people

The best way to know people is to find out what they lie about.


It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion.


To err is human; to blame it on the other guy is even more human.
Human nature is the same everywhere; the modes only are different.
For behavior, men learn it, as they take diseases, one of another.
To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle.
It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.


The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.


We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.
We protest against unjust criticism, but we accept unearned applause.


You may drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she will always return.


No man is content with his fortune, nor discontent with his intellect.


Everyone complains of his memory, and nobody complains of his judgment.


The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.


We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves.

family parenting

Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.

alternatives children

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.


By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.


There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.

imagination the past

People want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.


Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.
— Turkish proverb

proverbs Turkish proverbs

There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.


Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people's excuses.


The fault you see in your brother is really in you. The world is a mirror.
If men could only know each other, they would never either idolize or hate.
It's our nature: Human beings like success but they hate successful people.


At the bottom of things, most people want to be understood and appreciated.
The nature of men is always the same; it is their habits that separate them.


Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.
It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

vice vice & virtue virtue

The most difficult secret for a man to keep is the opinion he has of himself.

know yourself

Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.
Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.
Say not you know a man entirely till you have divided an inheritance with him.

character inheritance

People can be induced to swallow anything, provided it is seasoned with praise.


A man can only understand what is akin to something already existing in himself.


If you have been put in your place long enough, you begin to act like the place.
Man's chief enemy is his own unruly nature and the dark forces put up within him.
It is an all-too-human frailty to suppose that a favorable wind will blow forever.

luck optimism

Those who despise people are the most desperate to be favorably recognized by them.


Three sparks—pride, envy and avarice—are those that have been kindled in all hearts.
Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.

funny patience

Our chief defect is that we are more given to talking about things than to doing them.


Those who love to be feared, fear to be loved. Some fear them, but they fear everyone.


Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.


On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.

being good

The man who is brutally honest enjoys the brutality as much as the honesty. Possibly more.


Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.
Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature.


We may be willing to tell a story twice but we are never willing to hear it more than once.
He who makes great demands on himself is naturally inclined to make great demands on others.
Human nature is the same everywhere; it deifies success, it has nothing but scorn for defeat.

failure success success & failure

In great matters people show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.


A bore is someone who persists in holding his own views after we have enlightened him with ours.

boring people funny

We may not return the affection of those who like us, but we always respect their good judgment.


When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.


If the desire to kill and the opportunity to kill came always together, who would escape hanging?
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.


I like you all because you remind me of myself. Who doesn't like his own image staring back at him?
There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.
Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.


When a man thinks he is reading the character of another, he is often unconsciously betraying his own.


Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.


Men, to speak generally, are ungrateful, fickle, hypocritical, fearful of danger, and covetous of gain.
It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed than to repent of those we intend to commit.


The fact that people are full of greed, fear, or folly is predictable. The sequence is not predictable.
You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.


Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
When proper temperament joins up with the proper intellectual framework, then you get rational behavior.
One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home at night.


Every man has three characters: that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.


Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us.


Not many sounds in life, and I include all urban and all rural sounds, exceed in interest a knock at the door.
Every man, no matter how intelligent and learned, conceals within a dunce in a dungeon and a madman on a chain.
Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond a doubt that they are right.
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

new year optimism pessimism

Often, we attach ourselves to our pain, and we start to judge our lives based on how we feel and not on what we do.


Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.


It is not true that every man has a price. But for every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing.

motives persuasion

People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it.

advice desire empathy funny

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.


Half our mistakes in life arise from feeling when we ought to be thinking, and thinking when we ought to be feeling.

critical thinking feelings

There are two insults no human being will endure: that he has no sense of humor, and that he has never known trouble.

adventure sense of humor

When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.


It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.

anger temper

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.


You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

emotion thinking

The treacherous, unexplored areas of the world are not in continents or the seas; they are in the minds and hearts of men.
Men often mistake notoriety for fame, and would rather be remarked for their vices and follies than not be noticed at all.


Everyone feels shame when perceived to be unethical. Even crooks think they are ethical somewhere and in some circumstances.
Humans have always lived under the illusion that they can control markets, modify human nature, and get their spouses to change.
It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.

forgiveness mistakes pride

We praise or blame according to whether the one or the other offers a greater opportunity for our power of judgment to shine out.

blame praise

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances—if there are any reactions, both are transformed.
It disturbs me no more to find men base, unjust, or selfish than to see apes mischievous, wolves savage, or the vulture ravenous.

man the animal

So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.


Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things: comfort, love, and a peaceful heart.
Oh, to be only half as wonderful as my child thought I was when he was small, and only half as stupid as my teenager now thinks I am.

family teenage

Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.


The ingenuities we practice in order to appear admirable to ourselves would suffice to invent the telephone twice over on a rainy summer morning.


People can be divided into two classes: those who go ahead and do something and those who sit still and inquire, "Why wasn't it done the other way?"


Generally, the more you live your life trying to ward off the pain of presence, the more pain you get, particularly in the form of the pain of absence.


If you really listen, you will hear people repeating themselves. You will hear their pleading nature or their attacking nature or their asserting nature.


Many people feel "guilty" about things they shouldn't feel guilty about, in order to shut out feelings of guilt about things they should feel guilty about.


Whenever you have trouble with all [group name here], it isn't about [group name here], it's about you. I've found this to be a useful self-diagnostic tool.
That which the sober man keeps in his breast, the drunken man lets out at the lips. Astute people, when they want to ascertain a man's true character, make him drunk.


There are two insults which no human will endure: the assertion that he hasn't a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.


Since the beginning each generation has fought nature. Now, in the life-span of a single generation, we must turn around 180 degrees and become the protector of nature.

environment nature

The severest test of character is not so much the ability to keep a secret as it is, when the secret is finally out, to refrain from disclosing that you knew it all along.

character secrets

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around—and why his parents will always wave back.

children family parenting

SDT [Self-Determination Theory], by contrast, begins with a notion of universal human needs. It argues that we have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

managing people motivation

Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.

neurotics religion

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

emotion logic

Not only must you deal with the immediate pain of your thoughts, feelings, and physical ailments, you also must deal with the pain caused by the fact that your pain prevents you from living the kind of life you want to live.


Thoughts are like lenses through which we look at our world. We all have a tendency to cling to our particular lens and allow it to dictate how we interpret our experiences, even to the point of dictating who we think we are.


Not necessity, not desire—no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything—health, food, a place to live, entertainment—they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.

cynical power

Bigotry, envy, greed, and ignorance do not have to be taught; these things come naturally, and if unfettered are as destructive as addictive drugs. These forces have the ability to reduce a person to nothing more than an id, and like addictive drugs their allure defies the weak to withstand their attraction.
Loss aversion is an innate flaw. Everyone who experiences emotion is vulnerable to its effects. It's part of a larger psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias, which means that, for the human mind, bad is stronger than good. This is why in marital interactions, it generally takes at least five kind comments to compensate for one critical comment.

criticism relationships

You must come to see that it is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.