Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted to have said…

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

I first came across this quote on the bulletin for the memorial service of a dear friend of the family. It hit me hard. Even today, I read this quote and have renewed belief that success is possible in my life.

As I am NO literature aficionado, I’m certain that this quote means something different to me than it means to those who analyze and come to conclusions regarding things people said – and their underlying meetings. In today’s post, I hope to share what this quote means to me – without judgement. Here it goes…

I push myself, every day, to get everything under the sun done that I want to do (and on some occasions the things I don’t want to do but know I must). I push myself hard. I’ve been called ambitious and even crazy – a go-getter. I talk about my long list of to-dos almost constantly, not because of annoyance (most of the time 😉 ) but because I’m so excited to take the next steps and grow and do and learn about everything I possibly can. This path I’ve chosen is not the simplest… no, in fact it’s incredibly difficult sometimes.

Most recently, I’ve had to come to terms with lack of sleep or putting down one book to pick up another higher on my list of priorities. I either cancel my french learning sessions for social outings or decide to avoid the crowds and hide behind the binding of a good book.

I make decisions and sacrifice where I can. And I get tired and distraught and I start complaining about lack of time. This isn’t okay and it doesn’t feel good.

And then I read this quote.

It makes a world of difference every time. It tells me to sit back and breathe. To let go of my long list of things I’ve ingrained in my mind that I HAVE to do and to just BE. To be there for family, my other half and friends. To sit back and see what thoughts come along. To watch a funny movie or stay up all night talking to a friend or loved one. It tells me that even if I don’t do that one thing right this instance and on schedule, I’ll still succeed in life because I’m trying. I’m pushing.

I walk away from these thoughts refreshed, relaxed and incredibly happy. And all it took were Emerson’s words of wisdom.

You don’t have to scale tall buildings and jump through fires and perform rescue CPR to succeed in life, you simply have to to do your best. You simply have to try.

A reminder today to all to breathe, and consider that even the smallest moments in life of laughter or happiness (or maybe even sadness) can be considered successes.

What are some of your favorite quotes and what do they mean to you?

  • Abby

    I love “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt. I know it’s kind of cheesy and sappy, but I teach high school and it’s something I want all my students to know.

    • Believing in your dreams is so important – it makes life worth living! Thank you for sharing, Abby! You’re a great teacher for pushing your students to strive for this goal 🙂

  • Such an insightful post. 🙂