What does it mean to "live deliberately"?

When Henry David Thoreau says that he wishes to "live deliberately" in Walden, he means that he wants to live in such a way that he does as much of the things that make him happy as possible. He does not want to do the things that society says he ought to do, like buy a big house, because he does not want to resign himself to a life of work just so that he can own such material things.

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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau says that he moved to the woods at Walden Pond because he

wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when [he] came to die, discover...

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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau says that he moved to the woods at Walden Pond because he

wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when [he] came to die, discover that [he] had not lived.

In saying this, he means that he wants to live in such a way that every decision, each choice he makes, is well-informed and purposeful. He believes that most people have resigned themselves to routine, to the common values perpetuated by society. For this reason, most people buy houses that are too large, and so they must work more and longer in order to afford such a house, to heat it, to furnish it, to clean it, and so on. They buy more clothes, more stuff, and so they must work like dogs in order to afford these material objects. They believe that they have no choice but to work in this way, and so they do not live deliberately but resignedly.

Thoreau wishes to live in such a way that he does nothing because he should or he ought, according to society or anyone besides his own self. He wants to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life," to own only as much as he must so that he has as much time as possible to pursue the activities that bring him joy rather than working just so he can own more. He will not resign himself to living without thinking, and this is what he means by living deliberately.

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