“My Walden” – “Quiet Desperation…”

Today I explore one of the most famous quotes by Thoreau, one that never fails to hit me with its validity and deep truth. I write this post during the rising Holiday buzz in the United States, a time in which I experience more stress, more worry, and more exhaustion from those around me; an intense chaotic rush and push. What always strikes my curiosity is the proportion of people who DO because they “HAVE TO”,  which makes me ponder why we have chosen to create such intensity under the guise of “celebration and love”???

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~Mother Teresa

While I am not immune to enjoying presents, or the joy of watching other people receive gifts, I am more deeply touched by sharing time with others, by making sincere connection in the present moment. Like Thoreau, I grow more and more quiet as I come home to the pure joy, love, grace and gentle beingness which resides within. I experience immense pleasure in watching a sunrise, observing others in playful connection, witnessing the pure presence of a dog who is not burdened with yesterday or worried about tomorrow. I love taking a long deep slow breath to grind chaos down, to bring the moment into full view with soft openness. I did this the other day in a very busy large store. I watched everyone zoom here and there, standing in lines with their phones in hand, plopping things into their carts, all while maintaining an isolation that kept them from making eye contact with anyone else. In my bubble of quietness I felt the energy of those who passed me, as I inhaled and exhaled I wished all a quiet slowing down, a moment to be, an acceptance of the grace which always is…

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” ~Henry David Thoreau

We are taught to go after our goals, tackle the “to do” list, jump through the hoops of success defined by societal standards. We measure ourselves against our neighbor, colleagues, leaders and government. Judging not only others, but most cruelly ourselves. As I expand into the infinite peace, love, and joy which is ever present, I find myself more and more quiet, detaching from outside stuff, letting go of busy doing-ness, questioning with honesty “why” I am choosing to do something.

“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, I am going to leave you with the wisdom from Thoreau and Einstein, both of whom could see what was.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” ~ Thoreau

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

“A stereotyped but unconscious despairs is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for that comes after work.” ~ Thoreau

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion…” ~ Thoreau

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein

(I wish to thank the person who gifted my river walk yesterday with these fun ornaments.)

“My Walden” – As we see ourselves, so we are…

“As we see ourselves, so we are…”  The power we truly have to be happy, peaceful, loving, and so much more, begins with our own inner thoughts.  Again, this is not a new concept or teaching, it goes back throughout time, shared in many different languages and cultures.

Here is Thoreau’s wisdom from over a hundred and seventy years ago (written in Walden) –

“It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself.”

“Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.”

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” ~Buddha

I simply ask you, “Do you say things to yourself that you would never say to a friend?” I must ask you, why? To learn from what we consider to be mistakes is one thing, to torment and criticize the self on a daily basis is another.

As Thoreau points out, we are the ones to choose how we step forth. If you hate your job and have been unhappy for years, why would you not look for something else? If your relationship has been bitter and struggling for years, why would you not take action to create change. Are you waiting for the fairy godmother, a twist of fate,  or someone else to make it better???

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” ~ Confucius

When I purview my life, the common denominator that is in every scene is ME. Thus, my life is a reflection of my choices and way of being with the world around me. I cannot blame another for what is. It does me no good to sit in the pit of victim. Nor does it serve to wait for the stars to align in hopes that all will change.

Three words I often hear and have begun to investigate are – Hope, But, and Should. They are crippling, limiting words, mere excuses to not change. “Hope” is a hollow word, it paralyzes unless there is action taken. “I hope my boss notices my hard work…, I hope that I meet someone who will love me…, I hope that someday I can….” It screams of something that might become, a mere whisper that limits full expression. “But” is an excuse and word used to stay stuck. “I would love to do that, but…. I would quit my job, but…” What are you afraid of, why tell yourself one thing, only to immediately contradict. “Should”, king of all words that keep us on a treadmill of mediocrity. “I should clean the house…, I should go to the party…, I should stay at this job…” Really? I agree with Tony Robbins, “Shoulding all over yourself,” serves no one, especially you. Would a flower say, “I hope I bloom today.., I should bloom today, but…” The words you say to yourself and others have impact. Notice how often you say hope, but, and should. Then become aware of how you use them, what do they say to you and others.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

There is also the perspective of how you choose to feel, maybe you do not enjoy your work colleague, what would happen if you decided to always treat them with kindness and take nothing they say personal? Traffic is backed up, you grow agitated – how does that chosen feeling serve you? In all moments, you are at choice with HOW YOU FEEL. You are the one who decides to REACT. No one is making you feel anything.

Thoreau’s words reverberate – “What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.” Self criticism and judgment only harm. You would never speak to a friend that way, say such things to your lover, child, or stranger on the street. Why do you use such verbose unkind words to the self? Looking in the mirror the dialogue rambles. Is it positive, loving comments? When something doesn’t work out the way you thought it should, what do you say to yourself?

“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” ~Wayne Dyer

In my life, I find that every day gives me opportunities to take things that happen negatively or I can look at how they might be happening to teach me something; gracing me with the awareness that I decide how I feel in any given moment.  I look back to the day I was let go from my job two years ago, a mixture of emotions flooded my being. I knew I was at choice to let fear and self-criticism rule, or I could choose to see how it all might be helping me to step in the direction my heart and soul beckoned. In reflection it has been completely the latter. It helped me to break the cycle of working a dead end job, spurred me to find the courage to start my business and to take action daily towards doing what I love. In hindsight it has been one of the best things to happen to me. It spurred me to be here with you today, sharing my passion to write and connect with others.

Today I share with you an Invitation versus a pondering –

For the next week focus on sharing positive kind supportive things to yourself. If you are courageous enough, say positive things about yourself, to yourself in the mirror. Do it with sincerity and presence.

When you hear yourself saying negative “opinions” about yourself, STOP! Take a deep long slow breath and CHANGE the internal dialogue to something positive. Be patient, you have been berating yourself for years – you are working to build a new muscle.

If you are interested to learn more about how negative self-talk impacts your life check out some of these videos: