“Desiderata,” by Max Ehrmann (1927)

Wandering through the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, and overlooking the San Francisco National Cemetery. Each and every human, past, present and future: You are all loved. 

Desiderata (Latin: "desired things"), is a 1927 poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945). It's one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Sometimes I can sit and chew on each of these sentences a couple of times, soak them in.

Desiderata.

"Go placidly amidst 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 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 labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy."

Much love,



Subscribe: join our tribe of writers, dreamers, and do-ers — thousands of people who get twice weekly stories for wellness, wisdom, and happiness. Subscribe here to stay in touch.


8 Responses to “Desiderata,” by Max Ehrmann (1927)

  1. Dave says:

    This really spoke to me today. With all that’s going on in the world, both internally and externally, it’s good to seek peace and be gentle on myself.

    Thanks

  2. Becky says:

    Thank you for posting this. This poem is also a favorite of mine; it always speaks to me no matter where I am in life. It’s been a while since I revisited this piece and today was a great day to do so!

  3. Mary says:

    My gym posted a question on Facebook the other day — “what is your favorite poem?” (I know — an odd question to be asked by one’s gym, but there you have it. Anyway – my answer was this poem. It’s been a favorite since I was a teenager. How cool to see it here when I came to your blog (after reading your article on Becoming Minimalist). I’d love to a resurgence in popularity of this poem. Thanks for posting it. :-)

  4. Kim says:

    One of my favorites too Sarah. Thanks for posting – I’m savoring each sentence all over again.

  5. Tanner says:

    “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.”

    This is my favorite section. It says so many hidden things from which there is so much to learn. I especially like the idea of consciously working on the strength of our spirit to shield us when we are faced with challenges. This is especially powerful when we are attempting to take the first steps of a life-change. We will no doubt fail and be confronted with obstacles, but in the strength of our mind we can find the power to push through. Thanks Sarah!

  6. A dude wrote this in 1927?? Jeez. THis really isn’t my kind of thing usually, but this was great. One thing that really hit me was how life and the things we face are the same today as they were decades or hundreds of years ago. Technology changes, but people really don’t. I like the part about us all having a right to be here. Good stuff.

  7. [...] “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann (1927) Go placidly amidst 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… [...]

  8. [...] Required reading: “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.” Tekla, catches some air on the burpee – even though no one said anything about vertical jumping! The burpee INCLUDES the jump – if you’re not leaving the ground, you’re not working hard enough! Today’s WOD will make that jump pretty intentional – USE IT! [...]

x