Self-reliance (the essay, duhh)

. 2 min read

If you've never heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson, go google him right now. Or read this Wikipedia page. I'll wait.

Now. I could start analyzing Emerson's life and works but I only wish to talk about one essay: Self-Reliance. The name itself suggests that good things are coming the reader's way. It's a kick-ass name. It just might be the best essay name ever. (And it's not even a readbait!)

The essay is full of ingenious quotes that ring a bell deep in your soul. I would like to recount all of them here - but that would make a very long article and I suppose you don't have all day. So here are my thirteen absolute favourites.

...God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

To be great is to be misunderstood.

Man is timid an apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say "I think," "I am," but quotes some saint or sage.

It is as easy for the strong man to be strong, as it is for the weak to be weak.

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative forve of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half-possession.

Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.

He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.

Everything he writes seems to glow in golden sunshine on a crisp spring morning full of hope, doesn't it? Every time I read any of these I become filled with new ideas and energy and enthusiasm about the world and a new day full of potential. My mental state, whatever it may be when picking up his book, shifts to the far end of positive when reading. Regarless of the preceding thought patterns, however hopeless, the world is suddenly beautiful and just, a playground on which I'm free and capable of anything. I bask in glory.

It's one of the best hacks I know to shift a negative mental state. You should try it, too.

One more. The best. So uncorrupted and pure that I've framed it and hung it on a wall at home.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.