Success and Economic Temperance

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.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I came across the quote above via the book The Secret of Shelter Island, a book I borrowed from the library as I sought to temper my longing for increasing wealth.

What I have found, time and time again, as clues to the ultimate solution for economic temperance, are:

  • Art – the creation and consumption of – literature; music (listening and playing); drawing (I found the act of drawing very therapeutic – it’s hard to think of money when you’re absorbed in figuring out how distance affects size).
  • Being – less focus on what one has, and more on who one is – a gentleman; a warrior; an athlete; a scholar; as one who holds the immense beauty of nature in reverence.
  • Giving back – as Emerson puts it so beautifully, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. Besides, it’s hard to reconcile the fact of giving and not having enough – if I’m giving, it means I have something to give, which is never a bad thing.

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