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Famous Chinese Sayings about Wisdom

Below are some of the most common wisdom sayings that give practical life advice.

1. 不作不死。(bù zuò bù sǐ) — If you don't do stupid things you won't end up in tragedy.
This Chinese web saying is recorded in the Urban Dictionary. It's like: "Don't poke the bear."
2. 塞翁失马,焉知非福。(Sài Wēng [legendary old man's name]  shī mǎ, yān zhī fēi fú) — Blessings come in disguise.
According to the book "Huainanzi — Lessons of the Human World", an old man living in a border region lost his horse and people came to comfort him. But he said, "This may be a blessing in disguise, who knows?" Indeed, the horse later returned to the man and brought him a better horse.
3. 小洞不补,大洞吃苦。(Xiǎodòng bù bǔ, dàdòng chī kǔ) — If small holes aren't fixed, then big holes will bring hardship.
This proverb tells us that if a trivial problem is not solved in time, it will become a serious and knotty one. Similar to: "A stitch in time saves nine."
4. 水满则溢。(Shuǐmǎn zé yì) — Water flows in only to flow out.
Similar to "what comes up must come down", this proverb points out that: things reverse when they reach their extremes. It's from the 18th century novel "A Dream of Red Mansions".
5. 读万卷书不如行万里路。 (Dú wànjuànshū bù rú xíng wànlǐlù) — It's better to walk thousands of miles than to read thousands of books.
I.e. 'doing beats reading' or 'experience beats theory'.
6. 三个和尚没水喝。 (Sān gè héshàng méi shuǐ hē) — Too many cooks spoil the broth.
I.e. if too many people try to do something, like three monks trying to carry one bucket of water, they make a mess of it.
7. 一笑解千愁。 (Yī xiào jiě qiānchou) — A smile dispels many worries.
8. 笑一笑,十年少。 (Xiào yī xiào, shínián shào) — Happiness is the best cosmetic.
9. 美名胜过美貌。 (Měimíng shèng guò měimào) — A good name is better than a good face.
10. 不善始者不善终。 (Bú shànshǐzhě bù shànzhōng) — A bad beginning makes a bad ending.
11. 大处着眼,小处着手。(Dàchù zhuó yǎn, xiǎochù zhuó shǒu) — Keep the general goal in sight while tackling daily tasks.
This proverb advises us to always keep the overall situation in mind, and be far-sighted, while we set our hands to mundane business.
12. 一步一个脚印。 (Yībù yīgè jiǎoyìn) — Every step makes a footprint.
Work steadily and make solid progress.
13. 一个萝卜一个坑儿。 (Yīgè luóbo yīgè kēngr) — Each has his own task, and nobody is dispensable.
I.e. "each to his own", "horses for courses", or "every kettle has its lid".
14. 留得青山在,不怕没柴烧。 (Liú dé qīngshān zài, búpà méi chái shāo) — While there are green hills, there'll be wood to burn.
I.e. "Where there is life, there is hope."
15. 千军易得, 一将难求。 (Qiānjūn yìdé, yī jiang nánqiú) — It is easy to find a thousand soldiers, but hard to find a good general.
This proverb notes the difficulty of finding an outstanding leader.

Credit: mandarinmorning

Dec 14, 2020
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