William Henry Channing (1810–84) was an Unitarian clergyman, writer, and philosopher who served as the United States House of Representatives Chaplain from 1863–64. He was also a close friend of the transcendental philosophers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
One of Channing’s best-known writings is a simple stirring verse called the Symphony of Contentment:
To live content with small means.
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion.
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich.
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly.
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart.
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.
Idea for Impact: The key to well-being is feeling content wherever you are. It’s an even more worthy aspiration than happiness.
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