Ralph Waldo Emerson on living with intent

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Living with intent may prove to be the coin of the year, bumping mindfulness out of the bestseller lists. Both, of course–and indeed all the other topics under “well-being” at the bookstore–are attempts at answering a question that has long been with us: How do we live better?

While popular authors suggest journaling, or leaving your phone at home, Ralph Waldo Emerson approached the question with a bit of a stronger bite. In his essay “Self-Reliance” he is at risk of coming across as a wicked schoolmarm: Accept your place, don’t hide in the corner, work hard, listen to the voices you hear in the chaos, the dark, and the solitude. He writes that “truth is handsomer than the affectation of love,” and it’s hard not to believe that he wrote that without ever having experienced Tinder. He tells us that, in life, what we must do is all that concerns us…

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