Thoughts on: Emerson

Something I’m going to start doing once in a while is reviewing a quote or a phrase or something of the sort that I like – for whatever reason. It may or may not be related to anything that I blog about, but just something I appreciate. I will start with a worn-out overused quote that probably everyone knows. It is, however, probably the core of my personal life philosophy. This quote comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To laugh often and much: to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Even if you are not a deeply religious person I still think you need to find some sort of meaning in life. I do not believe that there is some sort of force guiding my every move or interfering in my day-to-day life. I have simply seen too much evidence of evil winning out to assume that there is a kind presence altering the course of events in the world. But I do believe, very loosely and without any formal rules, that there is a concept similar to karma. Good returns good. Good thoughts lead to good actions which lead to good results. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to fear, and fear leads to the dark side of the Force…oops, wait, I’ve heard that somewhere before…

Seriously, though, if everyone in the world followed Emerson’s advice the world would be a better place. That’s also true of many other people’s advice, as well, but this one always struck me because it’s so DOABLE. It does not ask the impossible. Anyone can do something as he describes. It’s actually very similar to George Bush Sr.’s much mocked “thousand points of light” concept (which ironically is probably the lone insightful and kind concept he brought into this world, yet the one he may be most ridiculed for).

So think about Emerson’s quote and pick up a piece of trash that isn’t yours today and put it in a garbage pail – or better yet a recycling bin if it’s recyclable. Play peek-a-boo with your child, or teach them about rocket ships. Tend to a living thing. Those are small actions, but doing just one means your day will be a success no matter how you look at it.

(tip of the hat to My Two Dollars, where I got the idea for a weekly quote post)

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One Reply to “Thoughts on: Emerson”

  1. I agree completely, the best thing about this quote is the do-ability of it. RWE ain’t asking for a whole lot here. The things he talks about are what distinguishes us from wild animals. Just some simple humanity.

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