Chinese proverbs, sayings and quotes are some of the wisest pieces of information out there. Chinese philosophers and teachers have always had a way of expressing bits of knowledge in short but concise sayings which we all have the attention span to hear. For instance, Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, created a well-known rule that is taught to kids and adults alike – the Golden Rule. And sometimes those bits of wisdom are compiled into a book like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which is one of the most read books by people who want to be more successful and wise in business and in life.
I believe that the following 14 Chinese proverbs, sayings and quotes are all important to know, and once you understand them, you will have a better understanding of how to apply to them to your life – or even how life works at a fundamental level.
1. Always Look For The Lessons In Your Relationships
There is a rule of thumb that you are a sum of your closest friends, but this quote from Confucius makes it clear that no matter who your closest friends are, there will be one or more of them that have something to teach you.
Personally, I think all three friends will have something to teach you. They may teach you more about who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, what beliefs you want to hold, how to be humble, how to stand up for yourself, and the lessons go on and on.
Every relationship, good or bad, gives you an opportunity to learn something because you are interacting with someone who is different than you and knows things that you don’t or sees the world in a way that you don’t.
The only way to learn is to move outside your scope of vision and peek into someone else’s. So, if you are friends with three people, make sure you look to see what at least one of them (or in my opinion all three) have to teach you!
2. Embrace New Experiences
Are you looking for a new habit for your daily routine? Or are you actively looking for and embracing new experiences into your life? You should be!
Yes, doing something new means moving out of your comfort zone and doing something that takes some effort and strength – both in body and mind. But think of the rewards you will get!
As this Chinese proverb says, if you don’t experience stuff, you can’t learn stuff. Experiences are where you understand things better, learn more about yourself, have epiphanies about life, and realize what you really want. So, make sure to constantly look for and embrace experiences into your life.
3. Stop Blaming Other People For Your Ugliness
If you don’t like the person you see in the mirror, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. This Chinese proverb can be extended to every area of life.
For instance, if you are unhappy in your relationship, you can’t blame your partner. You are the one who is allowing the unhappiness to continue in one way or the other. Maybe you are choosing to stay despite your better judgment or maybe you are not trying to make the relationship better.
Or, if you are working at a job you hate, you can’t blame your boss. They didn’t have anything to do with what you were willing to do in terms of education, work, experience, and effort. You are the only one responsible for where you are in your career.
This little bit of advice can be applied to almost everything, including your health, happiness, relationships, career, and wisdom. When you realize that, and then take ownership over every area of your life, you will do things differently. And when you do things differently, your life will be different, and the person you see in the mirror will be different.
4. Why Does It Seem Like There Are So Many Negative People?
It seems that there are a lot of negative people, especially online, today. And they are loud! They stand out. They make sure they are heard. They have opinion after opinion after opinion, and they will not rest until you believe that their opinion is right.
But, many of us know that these people are very limited in their vision and not aware of what is happening around them or to the subjects that they are so opinionated about. So why are they everywhere? Because we can be louder than ever before, and as this Chinese proverb says, a half filled bottle makes noise!
A half-filled bottle equals someone who just doesn’t have a lot of information and is very limited in their perception and awareness. A full bottle equals someone who has a lot of information and can see situations from all perspectives and come to a reasonable conclusion because of it.
Think of the last time you saw someone post a hate comment on a YouTube video. I guarantee that they not only left a hateful comment, they defended that comment, put down other people, and tried to make everyone feel as if they were idiots because they didn’t see things in their way. Their limited scope of vision on the subject causes them to see things in one way, and one way only. If anyone who has a little more experience and knowledge on the subject tries to comment, the half-filled person will not be influenced, they will just get louder and meaner because of their inability to see past their blinders.
So, why are there so many negative people out there? Because there are a lot of half-filled people. Even though there are more open-minded people than ever before, the narrow-minded are still the majority.
Moreover, the people who are working on building their knowledge, expanding their awareness, and growing in a positive way, don’t have time to shout out their opinions from the rooftop. They are busy trying to make their life and the world a better place.
5. Be Careful With Your Words
It’s just a tongue, but the words you form with it can cause someone to give up on their happiness, commit suicide, think less of themselves, make a wrong choice, go against their beliefs, or do something else that harms them or their life in some way. And, because you don’t know how people think, you don’t always know which words are going to be the words that crush them.
That’s why paying attention to how you speak is so important. Avoiding gossip, hateful, or demeaning speech is important for your well-being as well as others. And remember that speaking before you have all the facts can have the same negative effect as speaking from a negative place. If you don’t know the truth, wait until you find out all the facts before saying anything. You will find that your words will be received better when you are able to say things with facts and suggestions rather than just a bunch of opinions.
6. Pick Your Battles
A friend of mine has an arrogant and lazy co-worker. This co-worker knows how to cover up his tracks and make it look like he’s working, despite my friend knowing otherwise. One day he went to his boss and complained about his co-worker. The boss saw nothing wrong with what his co-worker was doing and started to view my friend as a whiner instead of a person with a legitimate complaint. It affected my friend and his boss’s relationship, and eventually, my friend ended up getting fired while the lazy co-worker got a promotion!
It’s important to pick your battles. You need to wait for the moments where the other person is showing their weakness, and that is when you strike. Obviously, Sun Tzu is talking about war, but in life, you don’t need to kill the other person or make them feel defeated. You simply need to choose the moments where you can make them or someone else aware of how they are negatively affecting you or someone else. The right moment will come and it will help you get the result you want much better than when their defenses are up and their tracks are covered.
7. The Youth Is What Will Keep You Going
I really like this Chinese saying. One Chinese woman I found says that the traditional idea of this saying is that children will grow up to support their parents and that the son is obligated to live with his parents. She does say that this traditional outlook has changed a little and the expectations have decreased, even though they are still there to an extent. I think a lot of parents would want to focus on raising kids that will be able to take care of them when they are older, but I think this saying goes beyond that.
The future depends on the children of today. When we get old, they will be making big decisions that affect our health and happiness – even if they are not directly in our life, so it’s important that we raise all children to be compassionate, strong, and focused on making the world a better place.
Next time you see a child – whether that child is your own or someone else’s, remember that they could impact your life when you are older. Treat them with respect and teach them well.
8. True Strength Can’t Be Destroyed By Tough Times
Gold has always been considered precious and of high quality. One of the lesser known things about gold is that it is hard to melt it. The melting point of pure gold is 1945 degrees Fahrenheit! That means you can throw it in the fire – or in the furnace – and it will come out just fine.
This Chinese proverb is a reminder that this kind of purity can’t be destroyed by heat. The people in this world who are high quality and living up to their morals and beliefs will always come out of the heat – negative people, unexpected and negative events, or even disasters – and keep moving towards their destination.
This is a great image to keep in your mind if you are someone who wants a better life. As long as you work hard, keep learning, show compassion, and live by your morals, you will be of high quality too, and no one will be able to destroy you.
9. Don’t Burn Your Bridges
People come and go from your life, but you never know when you may need the help of someone who has helped you in the past. Past contacts may come in handy in future situations, which is why you should never burn your bridges with people who have helped you clean up a mess or overcome something in the past.
One thing many of us discover over time is that you do need other people to get where you want to get in life. You need their interest, help, blessing, knowledge, skills, and more. So, when you need help, don’t discount anyone from your life, no matter how far away they are, how old they have gotten, or how long it’s been since you’ve talked to them.
10. This Is The Moment To Make The Most Out Of Life And Enjoy It
If there was ever a quote to help you understand how important it is to live in the moment, this is it. It’s simple. We tend to think that we have all the time in the world when we don’t.
We may picture a moment where it will be too late to live the life we want, but we don’t expect to come until much later on. And when it does, you will hear people express their sorrow at how much time they thought they still had.
Some people picture themselves happy when they have something or someone in their life, but they are waiting for that moment to come. That attitude causes procrastination and makes this moment not as important as it is.
This is the moment to make the most out of life. Do what matters. Laugh often. Spend time with people you love. Do things you love. There’s only so much time in this life, and it’s later than you think.
11. Let Things Go For A Better Life
You may want to get revenge on someone, but by doing so you are stalling your life. In fact, depending on how much anger and resentment you are holding on to, you may be stopping the progression of your life for good. I’ve seen it happen!
When you dig a grave for someone else and then plot how to get that person into their grave, you can’t focus on your happiness, health, relationships, career, or anything else. That hate takes priority until you let it go.
Therefore, let go of the hate. Forgive. And focus on not wasting a moment of your life.
12. Look For The Light
Another great way to waste your life is to curse the darkness – and there will be a lot of darkness in your life. We all have those moments where everything seems to be hopeless for us. This is especially true after we have experienced one negative event after the other. But, being upset about it doesn’t help us out. It just makes us more upset. It’s a waste of time.
If you can look for the light during hard times, you will find it. It may just be the light of a candle, but if you focus on it, and do positive things to help yourself get out of the negative state you are in, you will find that you can bring more and more light into your life.
13. You Missed An Opportunity But You Didn’t Miss THE Opportunity
If you are telling yourself that you should have started something twenty years ago, it may be true on some level. You may have been much more successful or talented by now if you had just started something way back then. But, just because the best time to start was twenty years ago doesn’t mean you can’t start now. In fact, like this Chinese proverb says, the second best time to start is right now.
This applies to anything, such as making your passion your work, going to college, or even starting a relationship with someone you loved.
For instance, if you know you should have confessed your love to someone twenty years ago, then you may think the moment has passed. But, doing it now may get you the results you wanted twenty years ago and help you start living a life that you think you’ve missed out on.
14. Be True To Yourself And Pick A Road
This is a great way to end this article on Chinese proverbs, sayings and quotes. It’s a simple lesson when you visualize it. Trying to travel down two roads at one time will get you nowhere. You can’t split yourself between the two roads. You can’t focus on one road. You feel pulled to go one way and then the other, which causes you to stand still. In short, trying to go in two different directions will result in you never getting anywhere.
Decide who you are. Decide what morals you want to live by. Decide what passions you want to pursue. Decide what will really make you happy and then travel that road. Don’t try to get on a road you feel obligated to drive down because of other people or limiting beliefs that you are carrying around. Decide to make the most out of your life and travel down that makes you happiest right now.