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Desiderata . . . Desired Things July 7, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, Poetry.

Desiderata, a prose poem by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a lawyer by trade, a poet by choice, hung on the wall of my bedroom in high school, my dorm room in college, and my home office in law school (and since). 

Filled with Ehrmann’s observations about life (and the human condition), his words served as a constant reminder to me:

* to be at peace with uncertainty
* to be gentle with myself and others
* to pause and notice beauty and joy
* to go placidly amid the noise and haste
* to access peace in silence

Eventually, after making many moves with us, the yellow felt banner displaying his words and wisdom disintegrated and had to be discarded.  

Not long ago, I printed out a fresh, clean copy of his words to display on my office wall:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.  Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.  But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.  Especially, do not feign affection. 

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.  Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. 

Strive to be happy. 

No rules. Just write!

What about you?  Does Desiderata speak to you?  Are inner peace and acceptance Desired Things in your life?

Quote:  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. ~ Carlos Castaneda

Related posts:  25 Simple Ways To Enjoy The Journey * Be At Peace With Yourself (Mirth & Motivation) * Laugh When You Can


1. Cindy - July 7, 2011

It’s honestly one of my all-time favourite pieces of writing.

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

Same here. I have small sayings framed here and there . . . but it’s the only poem that’s hung on my walls for decades.

It is a calming reminder to listen to the still small voice within.

2. Piglet in Portugal - July 7, 2011

A beautiful post – and words we should all remember. I am sorry I have missed so many of your posts but I’ve been away on holiday!

My favourite words

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Be at peace with yourself 🙂


nrhatch - July 7, 2011

Hope you had a lovely holiday. I’ve missed your posts! How did your garden fare in your absence?

Those are my favorite words too ~ along with the last six:

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

3. adeeyoyo - July 7, 2011

Beautiful and sensible too. I am going to print it out and frame it.

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

Awesome! If I feel agitated or upset . . . I read the first paragraph and allow peace to surface in the silence.

Another favorite paragraph when I feel overwhelmed by uncertainty:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

4. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - July 7, 2011

Nice message, but I also like that you used the Donald, ha, to illustrate it.

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

My two favorite possessions ~ inner peace and happiness. My sense of humor helps me maintain both. :mrgreen:

5. Tilly Bud - July 7, 2011

I love this. My drama teacher had it on the wall of his office in a massive poster.

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

My first copy was on a three foot long wall hanging, about one foot wide. It carried me from high school through the practice of law before becoming a bit frayed around the edges. 😀

Now I have a framed parchment hanging in my home office/ bedroom. If “anxiety” rears its head, I read whichever paragraph attracts my attention first.

Aah . . . that’s better.

6. eof737 - July 7, 2011

Desiderata – One of my favorites… covers a lot of territory… Thank you! 🙂

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

I also love Sonny Carroll’s The Awakening . . . but it’s too long for a wall poster.

If you’re interested:

7. Vix @ LittleMissEverything - July 7, 2011

I was distracted by the Disney characters 🙂

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

I understand completely.
Disney characters are both entertaining and distracting. :mrgreen:

8. souldipper - July 7, 2011

Desiderata captivated me as a teen, as well. A copy on parchment paper lived with me for years.

nrhatch - July 7, 2011

It hung right over my bed during my teen years ~ providing support and solace when life seemed a bit “too much.”

9. Jeanne - July 8, 2011

I remember Mom and Dad having a copy of Desiderata around the house when I was growing up. I think I read some of the words back then for they sound familiar this morning. I will have to find a copy of my own. Thanks for sharing, Jeanne

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Reading it helped me be at “peace” with the world. It reminded me that most people are doing the best they can.

10. Nandini - January 30, 2012

🙂 Great wisdom. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

nrhatch - January 30, 2012

Such a wonderful and “comprehensive” poem.

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