Great wisdom in ‘Desiderata’

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

One of my absolute favorite motivational documents is known as “Desiderata”, written by Max Ehrmann, in the year 1927. It continues to become known to more and more people who, after they read it, highly recommend reading it to their friends and family, because of the great simple and straight-forward wisdom and practical advice it contains.

The title “Desiderata” comes from the definition of this Latin word that means, “Things that are desired.” I believe that after you read “Desiderata”, you will agree that what the author Max Ehrmann put into this profound document truly are things that we all should desire.

In August 1971, “Desiderata” was published in Success Unlimited magazine. The magazine was later sued by Mr. Robert L. Bell. Mr. Bell believed he owned the copyright to “Desiderata”. In a 1975 lawsuit against the magazine’s publisher, the court ruled against Mr. Bell. It was ruled by the court that the copyright had been abandoned and forfeited because the document had been authorized for publication without a copyright notice in 1933 and 1942. The “Desiderata” document was therefore ruled to be in the public domain, with no copyright. I strongly encourage you to read “Desiderata” below. Please feel free to share it with friends and family as you see fit to do.

“Desiderata” — 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.

— Original text by Max Ehrmann, 1927

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.


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