“The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
Henry David Thoreau
Does this resonate with you? Thoreau made this observation in 1847, I see its echo in the shops and on the commuter trains, on the streets and in the workplaces. It resonates with me because I know the fog of despair is like a mist that can engulf you at any time.
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.”
– Henry David Thoreau
“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.”
“One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield”
– The Buddha
“Real success is success with self. It’s not in having things, but in having mastery, having victory over self.”
– Anwar Sadat
In Walden, Thoreau writes of the power of words. Words, unlike great words of art, never fade. They retain the vigor and vitality of the moment they were first spoken.
We often feel as if we are the first and only person to experience the challenges, mysteries, and suffering that life throws in our direction. However, great minds have pondered these very experiences since we first found symbols to record our thoughts and words.
So to Aristotle, Buddha, Sadat and Thoreau I say thank you. I hear you loud and clear.
It is in mastery of self that we achieve our greatest victory.