Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Living Deliberately

Here’s one of my favorite passages from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.
Who of us really lives deliberately?  Most of the time I feel like I am living accidently as a reaction to everything that happens to me in my daily life.  There are few days where I feel I am really doing what I want to do.  Most days I feel like I am doing what everyone else wants me to do.  How does one live deliberately in a world that is always making demands on you?  I know for me there are two things that help.  The first is to just learn to say no.  The second thing is to stop being so passive.  Too many times in life I have said yes when I really wanted to say no.  Because of my passive nature I often do what others want, rather than rocking the boat, and then I am unhappy about it.  It is difficult for me to be assertive about my own will.  I hate conflict and making other people unhappy.  Of course, by making others be happy, I have often made myself unhappy.  The older I get the more assertive I am becoming about my own will.  I am not talking about inflicting my will on everyone around me.  I am talking about not always giving in to the demands of others.  My own happiness is important to me and if being more assertive about my own needs annoys others, they can get over it.  I can be assertive about my own needs and still care about other people’s needs too.  This is how I try to live more deliberately.  You don’t have to live a solitary life in the woods to do this although it would be a lot easier. 

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