When I was in college, I read Henry David Thoreau's classic book Walden for the first time, and I experienced nothing short of a complete self-transformation. In Walden, Thoreau stresses time and again the importance of mastering self-reliance as he describes his time spent alone in the woods. Although I've since become an outdoor enthusiast, and I'd like to think I can survive alone relying only on the skills I've learned over the years, I think it's just as important to develop a mindset that's truly focused on self-reliance. Here's how I developed this attitude—and, if you haven't yet—how you can, too:
1. Learn to let go of your material desires.
This is perhaps the most important obstacle to overcome in your quest for self-reliance. Even though you may think you are not a materialistic person, all of us participate in a consumerist society in which the implied goal is to amass as much material wealth as possible. One way to learn to let go is to do without your favorite "things" for awhile. I stopped always carrying my cell phone around with me, and I sold my TV and cancelled my cable subscription.
2. Read inspiring survival classics.
Of course, Thoreau's Walden is a great place to start, but there's tons more classics that inspire in readers a desire for self-reliance. A few other examples are Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey and A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.
3. Spend time alone and learn to withstand the emotional test of solitude.
I think at the heart of a self-reliant attitude is developing a peace of mind with yourself. Most of us, especially in this modern age, are so afraid to spend time alone. If we are having a night in by ourselves, we tend to grab for the remote, check our emails on the computer, or do something, anything, to avoid being completely alone. Of course, I'm not trying to say that you should turn into someone completely antisocial. But it's important to be able to withstand being alone, so that you begin to understand the true power of self-reliance.
4. Try going for a few days without making any purchases.
I would guess that pretty much all of us makes at least a handful of purchases every single day. But you'd be surprised by how long you can get away without having to buy anything. We buy only out of habit, not out of necessity. I suggest stocking up on necessary foods and items on a Sunday, then try going the whole week without buying anything. It can be tough, but it's a fun challenge that helps you practice self-reliance.
Of course, self-reliance isn't a personal quality that's learned or developed overnight. It takes practice, hard work, and concentration. Above all, it takes courage to reject the notion that you must depend on others in order to live fully. Good luck!
Picture Credit- Photo Of The Day Eli Yavon, 9, of Delavan, runs across a row of hay bales at his grandparents’ farm in rural Sharon
A blogger and freelance writer, Melissa Miller specializes in sharing education tips with readers. Melissa welcomes feedback at melissamiller831 (at) gmail.com.