A Life of Quiet Desperation

This article was written by Steven, author of Hundred Goals, a blog about achieving your goals while managing your finances.  Steven writes about traveling the world while completing a life list of 100+ goals including Riding in a Hot Air Balloon and Giving Away $100 to a Complete Stranger.


The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Deep inside us is a smoldering desire for something more, something better, something…else.  We ponder the things in our lives that could be different, how our lives could be more satisfying, if only…  We dream of following the ambitions in our heart, of throwing caution to the wind and just focusing on being alive in the moment.

It isn’t that our lives are really that bad.  We have a nice home, a job that pays moderately well, a satisfying relationship with our spouse and great friends.  The children have everything they could ever need and there is always food on the table.  Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of becoming a veterinarian?  Sure, the money might not have been as good but maybe you wouldn’t feel like you have to force yourself out of bed each morning to get to the office on time.

It isn’t that life is really that bad.  You have a closet full of nice clothes.  A shiny new car is parked in the driveway (aren’t the neighbors jealous!?) and your new iPhone is the envy of all your friends.  Just look at what it can do! Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of helping underprivileged children?  Sure, that might have meant sacrificing some of the luxuries you have today but maybe you wouldn’t feel like your work has no value in the world.

It isn’t that life is really that bad.  Your kids have a great life.  They have everything you didn’t when you were growing up.  You know what it is like to grow up poor, having to go without nice things.  The last thing you want is for them to have to experience what you went through as a child.  The humiliation of having to wear old shoes on the first day of school.  Your kids deserve the best and that is exactly what you give them.  Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of starting your own business sharing your creative skills with the world?  Sure, that might have meant taking a risk and putting your faith in your ability but maybe your idea would have been a success and you could have been your own boss, free to control the direction of your company.

It isn’t that life is that bad.  It just could have been better.

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My name is Adam and I am in debt. Yep, I came out and said it in the first sentence. I hope that shows you how passionate I am about getting out of debt and enjoying life in the process. Join my wife and me on our journey and be sure to contribute to the great discussions. You can get FREE email updates about the site as soon as they are posted. If you would like to hear our whole story, visit my about page. Thanks for visiting!

2 Responses to A Life of Quiet Desperation
  1. Nancy
    January 6, 2012 | 10:56 PM

    This is what happens when one tries to fill the void within with “stuff.” It is the yearning for the spiritual, the yearning for the connection to the divine that prompts us towards wholeness. And yes, that means following your heart towards the things that fulfill you rather than listening to mom and dad and doing the “smart thing” (the thing that brings with it the ability to buy lots of toys). Success isn’t necessarily what gives you the biggest bank account though it may be. It’s about growing into your true self, honoring the person you were meant to be, and honoring that in others as well.

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