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Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

December 14, 2014
Desiderata poem

Max Ehrmann was considered a great American poet and he penned this well-known poem, Desiderata, meaning ‘things of desire’.

Desiderata is a spiritual text offering simple advice of how to live. Max wrote this poem when he was in his 50s and like many great works, it didn’t receive much fame until after his death some 20 years later.

With offerings of peace, love and wholesome pursuits, Max summarises a simple way of life.

Max tells us to use peace found within ourselves to influence how we live in the outside world too. We must stay true to ourselves, while engaging lovingly with others. We need to refrain from comparing ourselves with others as it will not bring happiness.

Max emphasises that each one of us contributes to the world. Our journey through life and the choices we make shape the change we see around us.

A stand-out phrase is below. We need to ensure that we’re kind to ourselves. We need to be our own best friends. We need to treat ourselves with the same love, compassion and kindness that we treat our loved ones with.


Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself quote by Max Ehrmann

One of the most important ideas – treat yourself kindly.


Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid 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 ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your 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 critical 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 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 with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.


Profile picture of Max Ehrmann

Max Ehrmann, himself.



Desiderata poses many things for us to take into consideration. Simple ideas to live with appreciation, love and kindness. Thanks for reading another Wholesome Road post. Rest assured that you’re meant to be here. Take care and be kind to yourself.



  • How are you kind to yourself?
  • How do you keep to your truth and avoid the pressing opinions of others?
  • Do you remind yourself daily that you’re a ‘child of the universe’?
  • How do you nurture your inner strength?
  • How do you balance the beauty and the broken dreams in the world?

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