Thoreau Thursdays (37): Pathways in the Mind

December 29, 2011

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Footpath at Green Lake in Seattle

Gravel footpath -- an alternative to the paved path around Green Lake

A crow on the beaten path, Green Lake

The less-travelled route, a footpath at Green Lake

“To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
— Henry David Thoreau

“Every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it and to deepen the ruts which as in the streets of Pompeii evince how much it has been used.”
— Henry David Thoreau, July 7, 1851 journal entry

Today’s quotes are not from Walden, but from Thoreau’s other writings. His observations seem timely, as we look forward to the New Year and think about resolutions for the year ahead.

Habits are interesting.  Sometimes you feel like you are in a rut and want to make a change, to feel energized by bringing something new into your life.  Other habits make life efficient — so efficient, in fact, that we breeze through our days without stopping for conscious thought.  That’s the opposite of awareness, really living and appreciating each moment.  I have a few “bad” habits that I’d like to change — eating too-large portions, eating on the run, eating a sweet treat with coffee, etc.

Like anything, you can outgrow your habits.  It may be time to make some changes, to adopt some new habits, to carve new pathways in your brain.

I like what Leo Babauta says about how to become successful making lasting changes in life.  He’s narrowed it down to four steps:

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

Happy New Year, and I wish you success with your resolutions!




One Response to “Thoreau Thursdays (37): Pathways in the Mind”

  1. sartenada Says:

    How lovely and beautiful photos. The first one is my absolute favorite.

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