Henry David Thoreau was a leading philosopher, poet and abolitionist of the 1800s. His most enduring work was his book, “Walden” which chronicled his time living on Walden Pond in Connecticut. Thoreau went away to Walden to live in the woods in a simple and uncomplicated way. During this time he was able to perfect his thoughts and philosophies on simplicity, solitude and minimalism.
Thoreau was, if anything, a non-conformist; loudly and ardently resisting many social movements of his time such as slavery, industrialism and urban sprawl. At the heart of his resistance was as steady confidence that his ideals were pure and the causes he spoke out for worthy. In fact one of Thoreau’s most inspirational quotes draws heavily upon the power of confidence.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” It may at first sound like a simple inspirational saying, but when you couple it with the fact that it came from a man who truly practiced what he preached, it takes new reality. Thoreau was considered by many to have gone insane when he made his move to Walden Pond. Few people in the quietly prosperous area were familiar with such radical ideas or practices. He was considered mad, lazy, rebellious and any number of negatives. And yet he was unphased, it seemed, by the criticisms. He simply continued to move in the direction of his dreams.
It was his dream to live an uncluttered life, free of the pressures and drama of traditional society. He dismissed the critics and went about his plans regardless of their opinions. Few people possess this type of confidence in their own dreams. We listen to the internal and often external chatter which gives us so many reasons to not move confidently in the direction of our dreams. When you cease giving these voices authority and take possession of your confidence then you can “live the life you have imagined.”
The only way this is practically possible is if we consciously substitute negative thoughts for positive thoughts. It is helpful to actually write down the most common negative thoughts you have which kill your confidence. Beside each of these negative thoughts you can write one positive thought which will counteract that thought. Writing things out is a very powerful way to reaffirm to yourself what you believe. Probably one of the reasons Thoreau became such a prolific writer during his lifetime.