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Humility way to a happy life

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; don’t shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2010 00:45 IST
Henry David Thoreau

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; don’t shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The faultfinder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling and glorious hours even in your hut. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the hut as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; and the snow melts before its door too as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.

The town’s poor seem to me often live the most independent lives of any. Maybe, they are simply great enough to receive without misgiving. Most think they are above being supported by the town; but it often happens that they are not above supporting themselves by dishonest means, which should be more disreputable.

Cultivate poverty like a garden herb. Don’t trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them.

Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society. If I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts about me. As a philosopher had said, “From an army of three divisions, one can take away its general and put it in disorder; from a man the most abject and vulgar one cannot take away his thoughts.”

Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me the truth. Once I sat at a table where rich food and wine were in abundance, and obsequious attendance; but no sincerity and truth. And I went away hungry as the hospitality was as cold as ice.

(Edited extracts from the author’s book Walden and Other Writings)