Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
Everyone is going to have an opinion about the way you are living.
Fuck (most of) ’em. Learning from those whose opinion you value is a good thing – but 99% of the time, what others think of how you live is worthless.
Your decisions on how to live are the only ones that ultimately matter, because you are the only one who has to live your life.
But as Emerson says, you have to live it – all the time. It’s easy to live it in private, or when we are in a position where we don’t have to actually *do* anything. I’m usually guilty of this laying in bed at night. Tomorrow once the alarm goes off I’m gonna jump out of bed, meditate, write, be kind to others throughout the day, do my best at work… and bam! The alarm goes off and the first thing I do is open up Facebook or Twitter on my phone, end up not having time to meditate or write, scream at people from my car on the way to work, and do a shitty job because for some damn reason (I wonder what it could be???) I’m tired, unmotivated, angry, and depressed (piece of crap didn’t do what he said he’s do AGAIN!).
But one of my other personal values is improvement. Not the end goal (there is no end goal), but progress toward it. It’s a process, one I’m willing to go through, fail at, and go through again.