Inspiration from Chinese Proverbs

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Chinese is one of the earliest written languages in the world, which provides us nuggets of advice and learning that date back thousands of years. There is so much to be gained from both ancient wisdom and also different worldviews. 🌏

Remember the importance of instilling values in your own children, “before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.” As you read and consider these pithy sayings, “govern [your] family as you would cook a small fish—very gently.” Because “giving your child a skill is better than giving him 1,000 pieces of gold.” It is through your child’s talents and skills that they can make a difference and see that “one joy scatters a hundred griefs.”

Since “age and time do not wait for people,” get ready to be inspired for action! ✨We gathered some more of our favorite proverbs and shared some reflections. Take some time to discuss as a family and see what ideas you or actions you are inspired to take.

Here are 10 Chinese proverbs for change-maker families

Elena (aka MeiMei 妹妹, which means “little sister” in Chinese) started to learn Mandarin Chinese when she was four years old. Over the years, Chinese has been one of her favorite school subjects.

MeiMei has always loved learning about Chinese culture and speaking Chinese. ❤️ “China is an important part of who I am. I feel lucky to feel at home in more than one culture,” she reflects. About 10 years ago she received this “qipao” dress as a birthday gift from a dear friend.

It’s better to walk thousands of miles than to read thousands of books. 读万卷书不如行万里路。

It is important to be well informed about the issues prevalent in our world, but learning is the first step… not the only step. Once you are educated and informed on issues, you can take action to make a difference, even if it’s in just a small way. Taking small steps will get you a lot closer to your destination than standing still. Elena

Failure is the mother of success. 失败是成功之母。

Sometimes success doesn’t happen right away. More often than not, we encounter failure numerous times before we get to the desired success. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the failures we encounter are not roadblocks in our way but rather, as the proverb says, the origins of our success. Elena

Better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness. 与其诅咒黑暗, 不如点燃蜡烛。

We live in a broken world with many problems. Rather than feeling frustrated or complaining, make an intentional choice to do one thing to contribute to a solution. Help your children refocus their attention to use their own abilities and ideas to make a positive choice or action. Every action, no matter how small, can make an impact. Karin

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. 孩子的一生就像一张白纸, 每一个人都会在上面留下印记。

The people around you during childhood likely had a big impact on who you’ve become. I know that teachers, friend’s parents, and other adult figures in my life have had a great impact on me and how I see the world. It’s important to remember that our actions can have incredible impact on children. Remember to share kindness and represent your values daily. Elena

If you want happiness for a lifetime; help someone else.如果你想一辈子幸福, 那就去帮助别人。

Well, what else is there to say?! However, I have heard people dismiss their service efforts or even dissuade children from serving, because it makes them “feel good.” When coming from a place of empathy and compassion, there is nothing wrong with feeling happy after helping others. It’s actually a chemical reaction in our brains. Go ahead, help others, be happy! Karin

I listen & I forget, I see & I remember, I do & I understand. 听过会忘记, 看过会记得, 做过才懂得。

Each day provides opportunities for shared activities. Life experience is the perfect canvas for deep understanding. Practice makes progress and families can learn new skills together. It’s really easy for adults to default into giving instructions or speaking in lecture mode. But doing things together strengthens relationships and lowers perceived risks. In order for our kids to understand the world, they need opportunities to engage and put their abilities to use. Karin

Every step makes a footprint. 一步一个脚印。

Everything you do creates an impact on the people around you and the Earth, even if you can’t perceive it. It can be daunting to realize this and might make you self-conscious about what you do. But don’t let this make you feel limited in what you can do for fear of doing something wrong. Simply be intentional in what you do and don’t limit yourself. Elena

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. 不怕慢, 就怕停。

Don’t be afraid of growing no matter how little it may seem at the time. It can be very comfortable to stay where you are in life at the moment. Familiarity is often the most comforting things for people – me included. Just because you decide to be comfortable and stay still doesn’t mean that the world will. Elena

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. 种一棵树最好的时间是 20 年前, 其次是今天。

There are always missed opportunities to make a difference, to be kind. However, rather than get caught up in the past, it is important to remember that the next best time to take action is right now. Even if something could have, but didn’t happen years ago or even days ago, don’t lose sight of current opportunities. Elena

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. 千里之行, 始于足下。

Many issues seem to tower over us or stretch on far past the horizon. If you want to make a difference you have to start somewhere. No matter how intimidating the problem is, if you are committed to making a difference taking one step is all you need to get the ball rolling. Elena

Feeling wiser?

Lots of great things to consider, right? Putting wisdom into intentional action is the next step. As a change-maker family, you have a tremendous influence on your children’s thinking and the actions that they will take. Your parenting will have countless impact for years to come as your children use their talents and skills to make a difference.

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”

What are your favorite Chinese proverbs? What small action has your family been inspired to take?

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