Improve Your Ends, Not Your Means

self mastery Jul 10, 2019
 

Our inventions are pretty toys which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau left society and moved out to the country to experience what it was to return to nature and live simply.
He wrote about his experience in his now famous book, Walden's Pond. In it, not only does he diligently track and report the cost of building his home and living simply, he also makes many wise reflections on the state of society.
This specific quote encourages us to get less caught up in trying to earn more money – which serves as a means to our ends – and instead focus on the ends in and of themselves.
It's not that we shouldn't spend time making money, of course, but we should spend more time what we are making money for. What are the things in life that are important to us? Why is it we are working all day in the first place?
Most of us have values that we live by and money is a means to enable us to meet our values. Perhaps we work so we can feel secure and comfortable in our life. Others seek freedom that money can provide. Some live to provide support for their family.
Whatever the end, money serves as a means to these ends. These values are a part of us but how often are we really paying attention to them? 
This reflection from Thoreau is an invitation to enrich our values instead of just trying to get rich through our means. 

 

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