Walden: A Book Review, and 5 Ways to Live Like Thoreau

I’ve been reading Walden and even though I’m not nearly done (up to page 37 of 271 pages on this edition I bought for less than 3 dollars) I’m already feeling so many feels. I decided to take notes of the lessons and resolutions I’ve gained. If I want to write more in a few chapters – then I will.

 

Click to skip straight to 5 Ways to Live Like Thoreau.

heart shaped rock in stream

What is Walden? A Review of its First Chapters

 

It is a book written by Henry David Thoreau, published back in 1854.

It is essentially a long essay about his views on society, nature, and life, written over several years spent between men and nature, including two out on Walden Pond – alone, away from people.

It’s a slightly heavy read, considering its content and when it was written, but it’s still worth picking up and reading a chapter at a time, every weekend or on a spare night.

 

In Walden, Thoreau (so far) is promoting simplicity in materialism, to allow for greater focus on things that matter – like relationships between people and between man and nature, self-growth, independence, and the ability to enjoy the presence. Thoreau strongly advocates living with less, but being independent.

 

This idea isn’t new to me. I grew up with the maxim that the more materialism you bring into your life, the less room there is for God, self-growth, and people.

 

the more materialism you bring into your life, the less room there is for God, self-growth, and people

 

But Thoreau brought up something new – independence and nature.

 

Get more from Warriors for Joy

Become a Joyrior to receive blog posts, product updates, survey and contest opportunities, and DISCOUNTS! on puzzles right to your inbox.

 

I have a strong need to be independent. Most of you probably do. No one likes depending on others; we enjoy our freedom – it’s what created this country (USA).

So why do we allow ourselves to go into debt to live with better moldings and hardware flooring, or to drive a cooler vehicle? What happens to our value for independence when the lure of luxury blinds us?

 

I love nature – take a look at my Puzzles of Utopia, featuring beautiful pictures of nature. And while everyone enjoys a walk in the park, I find outdoor space to be my OXYGEN.

 

Come winter and you’ll find me complaining repeatedly about the horrible cold and dark that prevent me from running about freely. (My family wants to muzzle me from November to April.) The thought of living in a cramped basement without my own yard to run around in… horrifies me.

I want to live like Thoreau, at a pond in the woods, with no master to respond to and no society to keep up with.

 

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

 

And that is the last great point Thoreau’s made in these few chapters – that society has created its own tools of torture by insisting on a constantly raised standard of living that no one can reasonably obtain.

After talking extensively about the ridiculousness of fashion trends when clothing exist simply to clothe,

 

“when a soldier is hit by a canon, rags are as becoming as purple”

 

and the reality that most people spend their whole lives working so they can pay their mortgages (and this is in the mid-nineteenth century!), he asks, if you insist that we need to live with more luxury than Native Americans, then (I edited his wording for clarity):

 

“how happens it that he who is said to enjoy [clean paint, fireplace, plumbing, a commodious cellar] and many other things is so commonly a poor man while the savages, who has them not, is [considered a] rich savage?”

 

Get more from Warriors for Joy

Become a Joyrior to receive blog posts, product updates, survey and contest opportunities, and DISCOUNTS! on puzzles right to your inbox.

 

If it were up to me, I’d be living on a farm with a simple house and expansive property. Since I’m not yet one of the 3% he says are lucky enough to have my own property clear and free, I’m making it my goal to find ways to incorporate Thoreau’s principles into my life right now.

 

How to Live Like Thoreau – Beautifully and Happily

 

woods forest trees nature greenery outside

 

1. Go out into nature.

You don’t have to move to Walden Pond, but you can visit a park on Sundays, take a hike, go canoeing after work.

I like to step into the very thin woods next to work during my lunch break, just so I can breathe in the trees. I visit the beach every so often – at sunset, when beachgoers have gone home. I recently drove two hours to hike the Appalachian Trail.

I may not live on a ranch or near a lake, but I can still seek out nature – because it’s never that far.

2. Bring nature indoors!

When the weather gets cold and days are too short, and you wake up in the dark and get home in the dark, it’s hard to remember the time when sunshine was warm and the beach delightful.

So if you can’t go out, bring it in. water a plant. Decorate with greenery. Hang up pictures of nature (like the above mentioned Puzzles of Utopia which I created just for this purpose). Listen to soundtracks of birds, crickets, waves, and wind.

Do what you can to keep sunshine in your life and depression at bay.

3. Live simply.

Do you really need so much stuff? Probably not.

Give away the shirts you don’t wear anymore, sell your long unread books on eBay, throw out that old project. Who needs it all?

4. Spend less.

Buy your own food. Go to the theater on a Tuesday. Visit the library. Wear a sweater and keep the heat down.

It’s not easy to cut corners but besides the money you’ll save, you’ll realize you’re not as dependent on “things” as you may have thought. Humans are pretty self-sufficient!

5. Think for yourself.

Perhaps Thoreau’s most remarkably still-relevant point, stop living like an automaton in society’s shadow, forget about what “they” say and do, and start making your own choices!

Wear the dress you like! Choose your own place to live (I say a camper van sounds awesome)! Work at a job that makes you happy!

 

Life isn’t a utopia. It’s not easy to live like Thoreau and in some ways it’s impossible. But we can do our little bits to improve our lives by taking lesson from his remarkable journey and astute observations.

 

Want to check out Walden? See it on Amazon.

 

 

 

Get more from Warriors for Joy

Become a Joyrior to receive blog posts, product updates, survey and contest opportunities, and DISCOUNTS! on puzzles right to your inbox.

Leave a Comment





Checking if you're human... *

Get more from Warriors for Joy

Become a Joyrior to receive blog posts, product updates, survey and contest opportunities, and DISCOUNTS! on puzzles right to your inbox.