The Internet is crowded with self-help books and guides that promise happiness. Some of them are good, some not quite so good.

A guide to happiness, in my opinion, has to offer two things:

It has to be to the point and very near to the absolute truth, (whatever that might be).

Would you believe that someone wrote such a guide in only 23 sentences a very long time ago?

A lawyer called Max Ehrmann wrote a short prose poem following an urge he wrote about in his diary:

I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift — a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods.

The outcome of this “urge” was a timeless and inspirational prose, which offers a simple positive credo for life.

Desiderata (Latin for “desired things”) was written by Ehrmann around 1920.

A common myth adds a touch of mystery to it: some people believe that the Desiderata poem was found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and is centuries old, of unknown origin.

Be it as it were, the Desiderata is the ultimate guide to a happier life and should be read and put into practice on a daily basis.

Here it is (I bolted the passages that are important for me/us):


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann ©1927

Your friend,
Eddie Corbano