Living Simply Is Not Simply Living


I found this on the back on a bench when we were biking at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. I was instantly intrigued. This is exactly why I like to get out in the middle of nature. I went home and googled this ” Desiderata” to find that this quote is from a famous poem. In fact the poem is often divided into twelves quotes as a credo to living a simple positive life.

“Desiderata” means “things that are yearned for” or “desired things” in Latin. In the context of this poem it refers to essential things.

This poem was written by Max Ehrmann (1827-1945) in 1927. It did not become popular until after his death. After his death his widow published a few volumes of his poetry. Until today, I had not heard of him or read any of his work. How on earth had I not run across this brilliant man before now? At any rate, I read some online. His work is incredible. His poetry is both spiritual and inspirational. I will certainly be in search of more of his material. I am thankful I ran across these words today. I am sad to report that I could not find any information on Graphred Evans, but I thank  him as apparently he was inspired by him or just by nature and Ehrmann’s words resonated his life. May they both rest in peace. Here is the complete poem.


By: Max Ehrmann

 Go placidly amid the noise and the 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 to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious 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 in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

28 thoughts on “Living Simply Is Not Simply Living

  1. You know something Suzi? I read this poem a looooong time ago, but reading again now, I don’t remember it touching me as deeply as right this moment.


    This poem is like a great reminder of all the things that are important, and also not important in life.

    I truly think this should be included within our schooling education, as required reading.

    It’s such an awesome lesson of LIFE!

    Loved this part…

    “And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God.”

    Thank you so much for sharing this today, dear lady. I really, really enjoyed it!


    • It absolutely spoke to me as well. I don’t think I would have gotten asmuch out of it when I was younger, but I think I would have at least vaguely remembered it if I’d read it.

  2. “strive to be happy” – that’s all we can do, isn’t it? there are good days and there are not so good days. but if we strive to be happy and keep smiling, then that’s half the battle won.

  3. I love that poem. I just sent it to my mother-in-law and my daughter. It really strikes a nerve for me and I know it will for them too. Thanks for always exposing me to such great poetry.

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