Mastery of Self


“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.”
– Aristotle

“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.

Mastery of Self

17 thoughts on “Mastery of Self

  1. What a great post, Jerry. I am doing my self-mastery right now as we speak. so true are your words and those that are quoted. I am realizing and coming to know certain truths as I continue down my journey of weightloss. Number one, it is not about weightloss anymore but about my mastery over my thoughts and actions. Number two, as I continue down my road, every second I breathe is a success. I realize new truths about myself and my ability to do anything if I but focus and do it. Thank you for the wonderful post.

  2. What powerful quotes, and I love how you grouped them all together to cement your theme, mastery over self. I think there is so much we can learn from quotes like these. They speak to us on so many different levels, and teach us different things at different times in our lives.

    In High School, my yearbook quote was, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” from Dickens. Though I meant it then, when I read those words now, they mean even more. I see the energy and the angst of youth, but now, I feel the power and the pull of age.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Thanks Jenny, I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve being doing a lot of reading, studying, and reflection over the last few weeks. But hope to return, perhaps with a new blog soon. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just reread your post again. So true. Self Mastery is the key to unlocking the mysteries of our bodies and minds. I have realized my results have been lackluster due to my dieting. A true self-mastery skill of obeying the will of your mind over the body’s learned addictions. This is truly a hard lesson to learn. I started today to “eat clean” and can honestly say I feel so different all ready. My mind is not so clouded and I have more energy and I am eating more fresh and organic and hormone free! I know the road will be a hard road but the feeling I have is one of liberation and a feeling of my body relaxing for the first time. I also am inspired by a friend whom I haven’t seen in a while and now she looks like she walked out of a muscle magazine. She said, “it is 75% diet”. SHe struggled with her weight. Now, she rules her body with an iron fist. SO, I propose a toast…….to self mastery and true happiness.

  5. And I am delighted to drink to your toast. But remember, self mastery is an Ideal that we can aspire to achieve, but there will be many times when we will fail and find ourselves on the floor. It is at these times that we need to find the strength to pick ourselves up and start again.

    May I offer you another toast… compassionate to yourself, each and every day. Self mastery starts with mastering love for self.

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