Tag: personal development

One Lesson from Etty Hillesum’s Diaries


It never ceases to amaze me how I continue to learn from dead people who are not blood related.


While reading Etty Hillesum’s diaries which were written from 1941 to 1943, I found myself dog earring pages where I found quotes applicable to my life. One of the things that amazes me about Etty is that she found peace, joy, and the beauty of life despite the oppression around her. She was a Dutch Jew living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, but she never let suffering take hold of her life.

Just like Etty, I have learned how to make much with little. Like her, I feel gratitude for the simplest things: a cup of coffee, a book or a muffin. Even though this is the only book the world will have written by her, (how much I wish she could have lived longer and written more diaries or books), I have found numerous lessons in this collection of her eight diaries.

In one entry she writes, “The rottenness of others is in us, too…I really see no other solution than to turn inward and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we have first changed ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned from this war. That we must look into ourselves and nowhere else.”