6 Chinese Idioms And Proverbs That'll Make You Rethink Life

6 Chinese Idioms And Proverbs That Will Help You Gain Some Knowledge And Make You Rethink Life

Knowledge comes from books and from experience of the world.


"You're putting the cart before the horse!" said my 3rd-grade language arts teacher. We've all grown up learning and hearing various idioms like biting the bullet, breaking a leg, or beating around the bush. Growing up learning Mandarin, my Chinese teachers would always teach me new idioms and say that if I used them it'll make me seem wiser. Even though these idioms and proverbs come from a different culture than my own, I can still apply them to my own life. Out of all the idioms that I've come across, these are six of the ones that I think we can all learn from.

1. 三人行必有我师: If three walk together, one of them can teach me something

This is my favorite idiom of all time. It comes from the story of Confucius seeing three students while walking down the road. As one of the biggest Chinese philosophers and teachers, you would think that Confucius didn't have much to learn others. That couldn't be further from this truth because what Confucius is trying to say is that while he sees these three students walking down the street he realizes that each one could teach him something. I've applied this my own life by realizing that I can learn something from everyone. Everyone has something unique to contribute to the world and oftentimes we don't take the time to get to know other people and their stories. Sometimes it's better to listen first, talk later, and get to know people from different backgrounds.

2. 知之為知之, 不知為不知, 是知也: You know what you know, you don't know what you don't know- this is knowledge

Aside from using this as motivation before taking a test, I've used this to help grow my own intellectual curiosity. I use this as a reminder that I shouldn't be afraid to ask questions because the only way to learn is by asking questions. I've found that when I ask people questions that they are usually more than willing to help me learn. For example, I was in a finance networking session and I didn't even know what "sell-side" meant so I asked and the company rep was happy to explain it to me. Also, I found out later that my friend had the same question but didn't want to ask it. Long story short, don't be afraid to ask questions!

3. 脚踏实地: To have one's feet planted on solid ground

This idiom can be applied to most of our lives because it talks about how we need to work hard and be ambitious, but how we need to stay grounded and ensure that our goals are realistic. I had a moment in high school where I tried to balance way too many classes and extracurricular activities, and it ultimately led me to have a mental breakdown. This idiom is a good reminder that we need to be realistic with ourselves. It is okay to dream and want to challenge yourself, but in the end, we need to be realistic and understand our capabilities so that we don't push ourselves too hard.

4. 顺其自然: To let nature take its course

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I spend so much time stressing over things that are out of my control. We expend so much time and effort into trying to change things instead of accepting things the way that they are. Whether it is getting one bad grade on a paper, stressing out over what to do over the summer, or trying to get someone to like you, we all just need to realize that a lot of what we stress out about we won't even remember in the future.

5. 千里送鹅毛, 礼轻情意重: Travel a thousand miles to bestow a goose feather

I try to relate this idiom to the friendships I've made over the years. I have some of my close friends who don't go to my school and live in Charlotte and Durham, or farther places like Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Canada. Even with all this social media, maintaining friendships can be hard because we're all so busy. Sometimes showing that you appreciate your friends can be seen by handwriting them cards or giving them thoughtful gifts. No matter what someone gives you, it's always the thought behind it that counts.

6. 读万卷书不如行万里路: Knowledge comes from books and from experience of the world

This idiom directly translates to read thousands of books and travel thousands of miles. There is no better way of learning than by doing, and that's why I love traveling. If you ever get the opportunity to travel, you definitely should. Universities tend to offer lots of financial aid and grants that can sometimes even let you travel for free.

Whether it is reconnecting with old friends, going out of your comfort zone to talk to new people, or asking more questions, I think that we can all learn something from these idioms.

Popular Right Now

40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...

1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Dear Generation Y, Let's Stop Being Flaky And Start Choosing Yes

We only have fear to lose, but everything to gain.

"I love my generation, but we are flaky sometimes. I've had several conversations with people my age who say the reason it's so tough to build relationships or keep them going is because we come into them with only half of our hearts sometimes. We like to keep one foot out the door in case a better option comes along.
I used to be guilty of this. I would make plans with someone, but I would be flaky about the confirmation. We'd leave the time or the place open-ended. There were plenty of times when, as the meet-up approached, I'd pray that they would duck out. I'm learning you miss out on a lot of things in life when you are indecisive about your yes. Saying yes and following through builds a lot of character. It makes you a reliable person." ― Hannah Brencher

This generation is full of ghosting, millennials being uncertain about their identity and leaving when you aren't gratified instantly. We're impatient, have high expectations of an ideal life and can't stay with anything long term. Even when you're not sure where something will lead, maybe you should just go for it.

I applied to work at my dream summer camp two summers ago. I wanted nothing more than working at this camp. I waited hopefully, but I got rejected. There were no open slots and no positions offered. I was disappointed and cried some tears of discouragement.

My expectations were crushed and I thought that hope was gone for good.

But something changed this year. Instead of just seeing that as a loss, I wanted to try again. I was afraid of being rejected again but decided to try anyway.

I was gripped by fear but decided I wanted what was on the other side more than comfort it provided me.

Sometimes things scare us because they are the big things that have the potential to change our lives.

We're talking about change for the better, so why don't we just see where it leads? With no huge plans or expectations, I sent in an application again. I was soon put on the waiting list and they ended up offering me a contract a few weeks after that. I'm thrilled to be working the summer in the mountains and to see where this new adventure will take me.

We only have fear to lose, but everything to gain. I lost my fear of trying again. I lost my fear of failing. I am learning to build a life out of what I love and who I love, instead of fear and a life of doing the predictable, safe things.

Be sure of your "yes," but also be open and OK that it may not go just how you think it will.

We make choices monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly. But what kind of choices are we making? Are we building out of fear or love? Both will get stronger with time. We are making or breaking our future with what we choose. Choosing well can bring you closer to where you want to be with every step that you take.

Each decision leads to something, whether it's good or bad. Life is a process of tiny (sometimes seemingly insignificant) choices that add up to where we are now and where we one day will be. Nothing will happen just overnight. It is all a series of choices and chapters in your story.

Even if you're not completely sure yet, maybe you shouldn't just end it.

Hold out for a hot minute. Some of my best friendships started off with an awkward first impression, but we ended up moving past that and onto a deep relationship. Don't leave too early before you see what a person or opportunity really is. Sometimes it takes time, and that time is always worth it. It will show you why you may need to step away, or why you may want to move closer because this is what you've been waiting for.

You aren't at the end of your destination; this could be you arriving at the start of the trip.

Let's not be in such a hurry to figure things out or feel like we've "made it." Let's toss our expectations in the junk folder and not let them control us. Let's choose well, but not let fear make us paranoid about what could go wrong. Let's take a deep breathe and focus on living and loving the life that we are in. Let's say "yes" even when we are scared.

I don't want to miss what is on the other side, but to choose yes. It might be just what I've been looking for all along.

Related Content

Facebook Comments