The mass of men lead lives of quiet despair. (2023)

Written byRicardo21. May 2019 15. July 2022Published inPhilosophyhang tags:Books,quotes

The mass of men lead lives of quiet despair. (1)

Henry David Thoreau's quote "Most men live lives of quiet despair" was an observation that most people live empty lives caused by unfulfilling work, lack of leisure, and false values; Money, possessions and prizes. Thoreau asserted that the value we place on property, money, and status is wrong. Quiet and hopeless lives are routine and emotionless, and living with false values ​​leads to unhappiness.

My life of quiet despair

I have an unsatisfactory job; The days are filled with harrowing meetings, unnecessary emails, and meaningless PowerPoint slides. According to David Graeber (author ofshit jobs) a large proportion of today's jobs are completely meaningless. A YouGov survey found that only 50 per cent of people in the UK are sure that their work makes a significant contribution to the world and 37 per cent are fairly sure that it is not.

"Capitalism creates unnecessary jobs, so the wheels keep turning."

–David Graves

Spending 5 days out of 7 (~70% of my life) at a meaningless and uninteresting job certainly puts me in the category of quiet despair.

Joe-Rogan-Show dies

I came across Thoreau's quote while watching the Joe Rogan show. Rogan says it's one of his favorite quotes and has some inspiring thoughts worth listening to:

podcast excerpts

JR: It's one of my favorite quotes. I was that guy when you were in a world where you couldn't wait to leave.

JR: You have to take the dangerous route and most people want to take the safe route and end up living a life of quiet despair and it's hell... you end up selling insurance or some other shit you don't care about.

(Video) Mass of Men Lead Lives of Quiet Desperation (Motivation)

AJ: How come people get stuck there?
JR: Bills and obligations. You have an apartment to pay for, a car to rent, a wife to support, you have this and that…your options are severely limited when you take responsibility.

AJ: But can people just change that?
JR: Yes you can, but you have to plan it. You have to set aside enough money to get yourself a window and you have to have a plan and you have to work every hour off your shitty job planning your escape like your life depends on it.

Escape from a life of quiet despair.

Thoreau believed that we need few comforts in life, and he put it into practice by moving to Walden Pond. While life by a pond is extreme, I (like many others) have too much stuff and life is too easy (quiet). Being comfortable with a simple life sounds good, but I have often thought that it leads to a boring existence. This point of view is shared as the underlying thesis byThe comfort crisis.

[The comfort crisisby Michael Easter]

The ailments are both physical and emotional. It is hunger, cold, pain, exhaustion, stress and other difficult feelings and emotions. Our instinct for comfort led us to find food. Build and seek shelter. To flee from predators. To avoid too risky decisions. To do anything that helps us live and spread our DNA...

Therefore, it is not surprising that today we still prefer what is most comfortable for us. Except our original comforts were negligible and short-lived at best. In an uncomfortable world, the constant search for a little comfort helped us stay alive. Our common problem today is that our environment has changed, but our wiring has not. And that wiring runs deep.

Advertisers tell us that it's more money and more things that make us happy, but I think it's the opposite, like Thoreau. You appreciate more in life when you have less.

To escape my life of silent despair, you have to throw your caution overboard. no one wants to drinkthe death bed testand regret, but the reality is that we all do it unless we are willing to take risks.

And by "risks" it's obviously not life-threatening, but by modern standards anything that takes us out of our comfort zone is considered risky. I need to get away from my safe and comfortable job and do something completely different. Otherwise, my quiet life remains unresolved.

I love a good quote and Henry David Thoreau's "Most Men Lead Lives in Quiet Despair" is one of my favorites. Encourage self-reflection. Are you living a life of quiet despair and what are you going to do about it?

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(Video) Most Men Lead Lives Of Quiet Desperation - Dan Bilzerian

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  1. How's everything going? Are you still at work? Or did you run away?


    1. Hi Kevin,

      (Video) Dead Poets Society - the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation; don't resign to that...

      The plan was to escape June of this year, but given the current coronavirus situation, the stock market crash, and general economic uncertainty, I am holding off. I might as well feel pressured when the mass layoffs start! Most of my income comes from rental property and when there is no one to rent it, it becomes a problem! ..hopefully it won't be too bad.



  2. I like Bill Withers' interpretation of this quote. ("The Bill Withers Story"). He continues from "silent despair" with "I was wondering what would happen if my despair was STRONGER!" (my capital letters). I take it as a way to follow my dreams.


  3. Pingback:Thoreau's economics

  4. 41 years ago our English teacher came up with this quote and asked us what the meaning might be... I always liked that quote and still remember it today.


  5. The quote is great because it succinctly articulates the struggle and pain of life. It's great for the same reason that Van Gough's Starry Night is great. There are great songwriters who have expressed this too, but one of the best is U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". This anxious situation is compounded by promises that the key is to chase after life's big problems; Finding true love is one of the biggest problems. Being the center of attention with money is another, in whatever form the induced imagination evokes; in "Rheinstein-Cowboy" in a nutshell. There are people on all of these different scales who seem to have found or claim to have a sense of values, and usually money is an important ingredient. The two scenarios are usually, like U2, not finding the dream or knowing what your own dream should be; or suddenly finding a level of achievement that fuels that sense of value and meaning and usually some kind of power~~ and then usually becoming some kind of narcissistic sensory junkie. So the question ends up being whether the goal is to have that self-fulfilling feeling of joy, in whatever form.
    It seems that human existence is riddled with drive-drive mechanisms. If the human race were just a collection of carbon-based life forms, we wouldn't have a world with so many problems. Everything would be handled more coherently, at least by the ultimate life form. But as it is, there really are paranormal levels of existence. It is the height of arrogance for science to dismiss all metaphysical activity for all of human history. Through the years, consciousness, creation, and history have pointed to God. So the central point of the story is the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The level of activity in the story against God points to God. The level of fraudulent or unclean religious systems does not prove that God Christ does not exist; proves that there is a kernel of truth, and impostors try to overload the field with decoys and repulsive shapes. Christ's purpose is to bring us into a mystical (spiritual) union with himself... and get us out of this swampy swamp that would rule us inside and out. Union with Christ asking him to enter us is the path to peace and real meaning. Eternal meaning.

    (Video) Mass of men live lives of quite desperation. Ft Joe rogan and garyvee


    1. I really appreciate your attitude towards life shown by this comment! Thanks a lot! He will preach!


    2. Rogen has no idea what Thoreau is talking about and he's putting it exactly backwards. And her purpose and her service to humanity is on the level of Howard Stern, not spiritual writers like Emerson and Thoreau. Yes, Rogen is just a narcissist and boring to any serious thinker, and these shows are pseudo-intellectual masturbation a few rungs lower than pseudo-intellectual masturbator Dick Cavett or Tom Snyder and their ridiculous interviews with ignorant fake LSD addicts like Yoko Ono and John Lennon Pervasive fake Christianity is at least a much less lurid sexual carnival than nihilistic beatnik, hippie, and anarcho-punk destruction. Sorry if this offends, but Rogen and company aren't afraid to call Christians idiots. Presumably he knows so little that he has no idea that Thoreau was a pantheist. Personally, I think Thoreau is wrong, as are the other transcendentalists. He can be seen as the forerunner of counterculture idiocy. You will recognize them by their fruits. Praise the Lord Jesus. And forgive them because they don't know what they're doing.


  6.……I have listened to this lecture and Thoreau's quote is mentioned at the end. I was in a dead end for 28 years and knew every day that art was what I was born to do. I got lucky and a passive-aggressive lawyer I was stuck with got me fired. It took nine months, but it happened. I believe God put this man in my life and it coincidentally coincided with selling my house and moving in with a friend of mine to save money. And I discovered an artist on the internet during my lunch hour, a guy named Richard Schmid ( whose work was so inspiring that I spent $500 to buy all the materials he suggested and after work one more day. He sat on my patio and drew a little painting and his techniques and teachings worked! Even so, my release was months from then, but when he did, I decided I wouldn't try to get another job as a legal secretary. Actually, he knew that mentally he wouldn't make it. He was done with it and he couldn't muster another ounce of strength to do it. In short, I started painting and a door opened, some paintings were sold and I have made a living from art for the last fourteen years. It's sparse, but it's enough for me. Since then, I've been "on an endless vacation," though I maintain a strong work ethic and thank God for every successful painting sale.


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1. Quiet Desperation - Motivational Video
2. The Mass Of Men Lead Lives Of Quiet Desperation - Henry David Thoreau - Taught To Profit -Ryan Hicks
3. A Life of Quiet Desperation: Why Following Society Ruins Your Life
(Colin Stuckert)
4. Dead Poets Society - greatest clip.
(Terry Weaver)
5. Lives of quiet desperation - part 1
(Eternal Extrapolations)
6. Do You Live a Life of Quiet Desperation?
(Rabbi Simon Jacobson at Meaningful Life Center)


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