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50 Timeless Chinese Proverbs Worth Memorizing

Memorize them. Share them. Live them.

The Scenery Of GuangxiYiming Li/Getty Images

Prudence, condensed

Plucked directly from Gerd de Ley’s Book of Chinese Proverbs: A Collection of Timeless Wisdom, Wit, Sayings & Advice, these 50 proverbs really struck a chord and are worth keeping in your back pocket.

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On doing this with a purpose

It is equally, if not more so important to do things without agenda as it is to do them with one.

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On being lost in darkness

You can’t see it, but it can probably see you. Unless its eyes are doing that spooky glowing-thing. Then you can probably see it.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On want and fear

Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, or dry. If cat jokes are more your speed as opposed to cat quotes, check out our cat jokes page.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On sharing

Sharing your success is infinitely more worthwhile than distributing your pity. Guess which one the dog would rather have. Spread the love with these 21 success quotes that will make you even more successful.

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On martyrdom

Don’t offer a helping hand then play the victim when people reach out for it. Boo.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On acting thoughtfully

Even the best-aimed shoe can do more harm than good. The vase will thank you later. Here are 22 of the most beautiful proverbs from around the world.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On growth and boundaries

You gotta give them thangs room to roam! Comfortable conditions don’t breed growth, the challenge does. 

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On self-assessment

What’s the point of perfection if you never reach your full potential? A little sweat never hurt anybody.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On speaking kindly

Personally, I have not forgotten a single nice thing someone has said to or about me, ever. If you need some ideas, try these 19 powerful kindness quotes that will stay with you.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On shooting your shot

Think of it this way: if you don’t ask, the answer is definitely no. If you do ask, the answer is only probably no. Or yes! Look to these 13 ways to feel more comfortable asking for what you want for inspiration.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On picking your battles

There are plenty of futile fights worth fighting regardless, but life is a lot easier when you make peace with the inevitable.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On learning from your mistakes

This proverb was written specifically about the time I got scammed out of a $30 Amazon gift card while trying to buy concert tickets from a Facebook catfish. Now, I know. So can you.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On handling the heat

If you’re the real deal, you shouldn’t have any fear of being tested. You’ve got this, we believe in you. These 20 confidence-boosting quotes from seriously awesome women in history should help.

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On acquired wisdom

Have you ever met someone and just known this is not their first time here? Some souls just have the ability to make it abundantly clear that this is not their first time around, even if they are distractible with a colorful set of oversized plastic keys. Here are 8 signs that you may have lived a past life.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On staying sharp

Don’t you ever get too comfortable. The second you stop striving for more is the second you lose. Here are 10 “dream big” quotes that will motivate you right now.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On doing better

If you really love you, you will expect a lot from you, because it’s simply what you’re capable of. Holding yourself to a high standard helps draw that out.

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On the bond of best friendship

Maybe your life’s true twin flame is none other than your best friend. Let these 22 heartwarming stories of true friendship convince you.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On the treatment of others

Not a single person has ever rubbed someone the wrong way by being too respectful. Imagine how you’d act if your idol was coming over for dinner and keep that same energy for everyone else in your life.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On generosity

Pretty straightforward here—receiving is lovely, but givers reap the true benefits. Read it and weep: 22 incredible things people have done to help out their neighbors.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On spreading yourself too thin

While I cannot say I myself have tried holding pumpkins underwater, I have definitely tried managing too many affairs. It does tend to pop back up if you take your hand off them, and I only have two.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On performing to the best of your ability

You have to accept you’ll spend pretty much the rest of your life operating at peak capacity—it’s the ceiling of that capacity that determines how much you’ll accomplish. See if these 15 time management tips that actually work can help you push that boundary.

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On the products of consistency

There are times when a single mistake can spell disaster, and when you start to get lazy or casual, one is much more likely to abound. This is one of those times where discipline can do you some good.

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On avoiding a letdown

If you keep your expectations on the ground, you become impossible to disappoint. The only one with control over your destiny should be you. Here are 10 inspiring stories of extreme forgiveness that will lift your spirits.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On changing your life

Despite all the coordination, variables, and skill that a project might require, it really is as simple as that. Do or do not, there is no try, I believe someone once said?

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On self-sufficiency

Be your own superhero, baby! You are more than capable, I promise. Just ask these 15 ordinary people who changed history.

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On doing the work

The hot air you are full of can’t get water to a boiling point—believe it or don’t. Talking it is fine, but eventually you’re gonna have to walk it, too.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On self-improvement

Being good is a skill, not a personality trait. It’s something you’ve got to constantly work at and sharpen. Here are 7 daily habits of naturally grateful people.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On fulfillment

If you don’t know what you’re doing it for then why do? What are you working towards? Does your work feed you in return? Passion breeds work, not the other way around. Ask yourself these 10 questions to discover your true passion.

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On resilience

The most direct allegory I can think of for this is the privilege of the power instilled by wearing heels—if you can’t handle the foot pain, you’ll never get the stiletto. And everyone in the room knows those who wear stilettos are equal parts chic and resilient.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On being alive

I think, when most people are on their death’s door, their greatest regrets aren’t things they’ve done, but those they haven’t. Life: suck the marrow out of it!  

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On pooh-poohing fear

The thing about scenarios in which you might die is that you almost never do. If you die, you die. Are you going to miss out even though you probably won’t? Let 15 of the most shocking safety statistics prove it to you.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On long-term change

Sure, having 20 years of performance under your belt is nice, but don’t let a late start deter you. These 15 stories prove it’s never too late to change your life.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On being a force

I don’t care what you believe, if you don’t say what you believe, and don’t do what you say. What you believe in is all you’ve got, so why not give it all you’ve got?

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On reciprocal relationships

You reap what you sow—relationships, work, corn.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On keeping it real

Human beings, by nature, want to be perceived as good and not evil, regardless of the truth of their character. Find some truth in these 24 stories about the touching kindness of strangers that’ll make you tear up.

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On finding out for yourself

One person’s perception absolutely won’t be yours. Get out there and form your own opinion—it’s more valuable than anyone else’s. The 10 most extreme travel adventures in the world might be a good place to start?

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On just figuring out

Do you know what’s infinitely better than following in someone’s footsteps? Forging your own path. You’ll get there, exactly the way you were meant to get there.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On handling yourself

If not how you behave when you’re blisteringly angry, the trigger for your anger can be just as indicative. Try these 3 ways to deal with anger to keep things under control.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On working on yourself

Usually, if you try to cover them up, it’s because you’re incapable of changing them at all. This “20-second” rule for breaking bad habits might be a good place to start.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On not getting too distracted

It’s funny how the things we do to fill our time often become the ways we ruin our lives.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On false hope

Sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. They’ll deal with it, I promise. The weird thing about life is how it just incessantly goes on.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On spicing up your life

Conversation with someone who just recycles their same thoughts over and over and over is a Circle of the Inferno through which Dante wouldn’t even pass. 

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On getting after it

Cause if you wanted to, you would.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On the rewards of risk

Reader, explore the abyss. The unknown can be scary but the known is downright frightful. If you don’t like it, you can always go back. 

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On staying focused

Reiterating that true passion breeds work—if you can go a period of time without practicing, you might need to reevaluate. Here’s why passion matters.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On living your best life

Survival is incorporated into the DNA of life, but living? That’s something you have to find yourself. Go beyond just surviving, make your life worth watching and all that.

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On toughness

You haven’t been beaten when you reach a setback—only when you decide to give up. Anything worthwhile isn’t going to come easy, demonstrate an unbreakable spirit in the face of challenge. Keep these motivational quotes from eternal optimists in mind when you’re on the verge. 

timeless chinese proverbrd.com

On inner-peace

You place a lot of stress on yourself in trying to be you at your fullest potential. Never stop blossoming, but back it down from 100 every once in a while, to check in with you.

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On trying

Guess which one you want to be?

timeless chinese proverbsrd.com

On making peace with the beast

Firm believer in ghosts (these chilling ghost stories will make you believe), and that ghosts are more willing to make themselves known to people open to the idea of seeing them. Why would they work for it? They’re already dead, they’re exhausted. But on the real: this applies to ghosts, spiders, failure, anything that strikes fear into you. The more you hype it up in your head the more cognizant you become of it.