Confucius on Dealing with People

Confucius on Dealing with People The teachings of Confucius (551 BCE–479 BCE) have dominated Chinese traditions and philosophy for centuries. He taught followers to lead a virtuous and righteous life, love others, honor one’s parents, lead by example, and treat others as one would like to be treated:

  • Confucius on keeping one’s wits about one: “The superior man may let others lie to him but not make a fool of him. The superior man encourages what is beautiful in men; the inferior man, what is unbeautiful.”
  • Confucius on the spirit of humanity: “What makes a place beautiful is the humanity that dwells there. He who is able to choose and does not settle among humane people is not wise.” Moreover, “the superior man does not neglect his neighbors” and “the superior man honors the worthy and tolerates all men.”
  • Confucius on showing consideration for people of all ages and from all walks of life: “Let me respect the tranquility of the ages; let me be loyal to my friends; let me love children tenderly.”
  • Confucius on managing parents: “Serve them in life.” It is not enough to feed one’s parents “if respect is absent, wherein should we differ from the beasts?” If parents seem to be mistaken, we may respectfully argue and protest, but we must obey them.
  • Confucius on managing friendships: “Have no friend who is not your equal.” Also, friends should “loyally admonish one another and tactfully set one another right.” Friends should be dependable: “even if the season be cold, we know that pines and cypresses are evergreen.”
  • Confucius on the right conduct toward authority-figures: “A good official serves his prince in the right way; if that is impossible, he withdraws.” Further, a good official “will not circumvent the prince but oppose him openly” and “will not be chary of good advice.” Moreover, “if the country is on the right path, he may speak and act boldly; if it is not on the right path, he may act boldly, but he will speak cautiously.”
  • Confucius on the right conduct toward subordinates: “The superior man gives his servants no ground for complaint that he makes insufficient use of them, but (unlike the inferior man) he does not expect perfection; he takes men’s abilities into account and does not dismiss old and trusted servants without grave cause.”

'From The Great Philosophers, Volume I' by Karl Jaspers (ISBN 0156835800) Reference: German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher Karl JaspersThe Great Philosophers (trans. Ralph Manheim.) I recommend The Great Philosophers for its delightful introductions to the philosophies of four great minds from the “East” (i.e. east of the Danube river:) Jesus, Socrates, Confucius, and the Buddha.

Dueling Maxims, Adages, and Proverbs

Dueling Maxims, Adages, and Proverbs

Different Proverbs & Different Situations

The 17th-century Anglo-Welsh writer James Howell once said, “Proverbs may not improperly be called the philosophy of the common people.”

Maxims and proverbs condense humankind’s wisdom through the ages. Applied appropriately, proverbs are persuasive devices to convince others—through wit, humor, zing, irony, or bitterness—of implied wisdom and collective experience.

Proverbs tend to sound convincing—that is, at least until a contradictory proverb is evoked. According to American poet and essayist William Mathews, “All maxims have their antagonist maxims; proverbs should be sold in pairs, a single one being a half truth.” This discrepancy even appears in the Hebrew Bible (The Old Testament), as Proverbs 26:4 counsels, “do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” In the very next verse, Proverbs 26:5 urges, “answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

One of the pleasures of working with maxims, proverbs, and quotations is contemplating confirmations, counterparts, contradictions, and inconsistencies. In other words, it’s fascinating and helpful to examine how words might apply differently in various situations.

When used without qualification, proverbs sometimes cancel one-another out. The following compendium illustrates this phenomenon.

Contradicting Common Proverbs

“All that glitters is not gold.”But, “Clothes make the man.”

“Clothes make the man.”But, “Never judge a book by its cover.”

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”But sometimes, “Leave well enough alone.”

“Wise men think alike.”But, “Fools seldom differ.”

“Haste makes waste.”But sometimes, “Strike while the iron is hot.”

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”But sometimes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“Misery loves company.”But, “The more the merrier.”

“The more the merrier.”But sometimes, “Two’s company; three’s a crowd.”

“What will be, will be.”But, “Life is what you make it.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”But, “Every little bit helps.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”But, “The devil is in the details.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”But, “Penny wise, pound foolish.”

“Repentance comes too late.”But, “Never too late to mend.”

“All for one and one for all.”But sometimes, “Every man for himself.”

“Blood is thicker than water.”But, “Many kinfolk, few friends.”

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”But, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.”

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”But, “Actions speak louder than words.”

“Ask no questions and hear no lies.”But, “Better to ask the way than to go astray.”

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”But sometimes, “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.”

“Better be alone than in bad company.”But, “There’s safety in numbers.”

“Tomorrow is another day.”But, “Another day might be too late.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”But, “Don’t beat a dead horse.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”But, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

“A silent man is a wise one.”But, “A man without words is a man without thoughts.”

“There is nothing new under the sun.”But, “There is nothing permanent except change.”

“The bigger the better.”But sometimes, “Good things come in small packages.”

“Look before you leap.”But, “He who hesitates is lost.”

“Don’t talk to strangers.”But, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

“Variety is the spice of life.”But sometimes, “Don’t change horses in midstream.”

“All good things come to those who wait.”But sometimes, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”But, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

“A miss is as good as a mile.”But sometimes, “Half a loaf is better than none.”

“Don’t speak too soon.”But sometimes, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

“Money can’t buy you love.”But, “Romance without finance can be a nuisance.”

“Never do evil, that good may come of it.”But, “The end justifies the means.”

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”But sometimes, “Two heads are better than one.”

“There’s no fool like an old fool.”But, “An old fox is not easily snared.”

“Divide and rule.”But, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

“It’s never too late.”But, “The early bird catches the worm.”

“The early bird catches the worm.”But, “Good things come to those who wait.”

“To thine own self be true.”But, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

“With age comes wisdom.”But, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings come all wise sayings.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”But, “It’s the thought that counts.”

“It’s the thought that counts.”But, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Curiosity killed the cat.”But, “Ask and you shall receive.”

“Birds of a feather flock together.”But, “Opposites attract.”

“Ask and you shall receive.”But, “Ask no questions and hear no lies.”

“Faith will move mountains.”But, “Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”But, “You’re never too old to learn.”

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”But, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”But, “Take no for an answer.”

“Knowledge is power.”But, “Ignorance is bliss.”

“It never rains, then it pours.”But sometimes, “Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.”

“Better safe than sorry.”But, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”But, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“Silence is golden.”But sometimes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”But, “Idle hands do the devil’s work.”

“Practice makes perfect.”But, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

“If one door shuts, another opens.”But, “Opportunity never knocks twice on the same door.”

“Don’t preach to the choir.”But, “Don’t cast pearls before swine.”

“Many hands make light work.”But, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”But, “Two heads are better than one.”

“Don’t cross the bridge until you reach it.”But, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

“One size fits all.”But sometimes, “Different strokes for different folks.”

“The best things in life are free.”But, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

“A good beginning makes a good ending.”But, “It’s not over till it’s over.”

“Hold fast to the words of your ancestors.”But, “Wise men make proverbs; fools repeat them.”

The Best of the Chinese Proverbs (Inspirational Quotations #362)


Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival

The Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is the most important festival on the Chinese calendar. The festivities traditionally begin on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar and end with the Lantern Festival celebrated on the 15th day of the New Year.

The Chinese festival year follows a lunar calendar and consists of twelve moons; each moon lasts about 29 1/2 days. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year cycle and each year relates to an animal in the Chinese zodiac. Year 4708, the year beginning February 3, 2011, is the Year of the Rabbit.

Dragon Dance at Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival parade

Festivities and Traditions

For the Chinese, the New Year is a time of great renewal. They devote the last few days of the old year to intense preparation. They clean their homes in a belief that, along with the dirt and debris around their homes, they can sweep away the mistakes and misfortunes of the past. They hang protective ornaments in their homes to welcome the good fortunes that the New Year brings.

The Chinese New Year is also a period of reunion. Scores of migrants return home to share the festivities with their families. The Chinese celebrate by partaking in divinatory readings at temples, sharing gifts, and bonding over elaborate family dinner parties. Children receive “lucky money” in red envelopes as part of the New Year’s gift-giving.

Outside of the Far East, ethnic Chinese celebrate the New Year in Chinatowns around the world with community parades and extravaganzas featuring fireworks, lion and dragon dance-shows, acrobatics, lanterns, and illuminated floats.

Chinese Proverbs

The tongue is like a sharp knife; it kills without drawing blood.
Chinese Proverb

Never try to catch two frogs with one hand.
Chinese Proverb

When you go to dig a grave for your enemy, dig two.
Chinese Proverb

Who thinks an inch, but talks a yard, needs a kick in the foot.
Chinese Proverb

If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.
Chinese Proverb

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
Chinese Proverb

I dreamed a thousand new paths… I woke and walked my old one.
Chinese Proverb

Man fools himself. He prays for a long life, and he fears an old age.
Chinese Proverb

Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men.
Chinese Proverb

Those who cause divisions, in order to injure other people; are in fact preparing pitfalls for their own ruin.
Chinese Proverb

Talk doesn’t cook rice.
Chinese Proverb

Don’t curse the darkness — light a candle.
Chinese Proverb

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
Chinese Proverb

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Chinese Proverb

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
Chinese Proverb

What you cannot avoid, welcome.
Chinese Proverb

Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk.
Chinese Proverb

Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.
Chinese Proverb

Slander cannot destroy the man … when the flood recedes, the rock is there.
Chinese Proverb

If you want your dinner, don’t offend the cook.
Chinese Proverb

Flowers leave their fragrance on the hand that bestows them.
Chinese Proverb

When you put on your clothes, remember the weaver’s labor; when you take your daily food, remember the husbandman’s work.
Chinese Proverb

Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect.
Chinese Proverb

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.
Chinese Proverb

Towers are measured by their shadows, and men of merit by those who are envious of them.
Chinese Proverb

The Best 100 Maxims from Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” (Inspirational Quotations #359)

Benjamin Franklin, American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat, author, and founding father It is the 305th birthday of Benjamin Franklin, American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat, author, and founding father.

At age 27, Benjamin Franklin began publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanack” under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders.”

Published annually for the next 26 years, the Almanack became widely successful. At the height of its popularity, the Almanack sold 10,000 copies a year, making it a best-seller in colonial America.

“Poor Richard’s Almanack” consisted of a hodgepodge of facts, weather forecasts, household hints, puzzles, historical tidbits, poems, and assorted amusements. However, what made the Almanack well known were the witty proverbs and maxims that Franklin included as fillers. The most famous of these maxims include, “Well done is better than well said,” “Haste makes waste,” and the oft misquoted “A penny saved is twopence dear.”

Benjamin Franklin sourced a good number of his maxims in the “Poor Richard’s Almanack” from Native American traditions, common legends and superstitions of his day, public speeches, and works of other published authors.

Maxims from Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack”

'Poor Richard's Almanack' published by Benjamin Franklin under the pseudonym Richard Saunders

Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.
Benjamin Franklin

Well done is better than well said.
Benjamin Franklin

If Man could have Half his Wishes, he would double his Troubles.
Benjamin Franklin

Tell me my Faults, and mend your own. Men take more pains to mask than mend.
Benjamin Franklin

Think of three Things, whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.
Benjamin Franklin

He’s a Fool that cannot conceal his Wisdom.
Benjamin Franklin

Necessity never made a good bargain.
Benjamin Franklin

He that is rich need not live sparingly, and he that can live sparingly need not be rich.
Benjamin Franklin

The Sun never repents of the good he does, nor does he ever demand a recompence.
Benjamin Franklin

Fear to do ill, and you need fear naught else.
Benjamin Franklin

To-morrow, every fault is to be amended; but that To-morrow never comes.
Benjamin Franklin

Poverty wants some things, Luxury many things, Avarice all things.
Benjamin Franklin

Be neither silly, nor cunning, but wise.
Benjamin Franklin

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
Benjamin Franklin

Anger is never without a Reason, but seldom with a good One.
Benjamin Franklin

Fools make feasts and wise men eat ’em.
Benjamin Franklin

The Proud hate Pride – in others.
Benjamin Franklin

Have you somewhat to do tomorrow; do it today.
Benjamin Franklin

Glass, China, and Reputation, are easily crack’d, and never well mended.
Benjamin Franklin

Fools multiply folly.
Benjamin Franklin

Wink at small faults; remember thou hast great ones.
Benjamin Franklin

He that lives upon Hope, dies fasting.
Benjamin Franklin

If you would keep your Secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.
Benjamin Franklin

A great Talker may be no Fool, but he is one that relies on him.
Benjamin Franklin

The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
Benjamin Franklin

To err is human, to repent divine, to persist devilish.
Benjamin Franklin

Half the Truth is often a great Lie.
Benjamin Franklin

An empty bag will not stand upright.
Benjamin Franklin

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
Benjamin Franklin

The Things which hurt, instruct.
Benjamin Franklin

Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.
Benjamin Franklin

Distrust & caution are the parents of security.
Benjamin Franklin

He that sows thorns, should not go barefoot.
Benjamin Franklin

He that’s content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.
Benjamin Franklin

Plough deep, while Sluggards sleep; And you shall have Corn, to sell and to keep.
Benjamin Franklin

The Wolf sheds his Coat once a Year, his Disposition never.
Benjamin Franklin

Diligence overcomes Difficulties, Sloth makes them.
Benjamin Franklin

A Temper to bear much, will have much to bear.
Benjamin Franklin

When the Well’s dry, we know the Worth of Water.
Benjamin Franklin

Work as if you were to live 100 years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow.
Benjamin Franklin

What signifies your Patience, if you can’t find it when you want it.
Benjamin Franklin

Humility makes great men twice honourable.
Benjamin Franklin

Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.
Benjamin Franklin

Don’t go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst.
Benjamin Franklin

Hunger never saw bad bread.
Benjamin Franklin

Reading makes a full Man, Meditation a profound Man, discourse a clear Man.
Benjamin Franklin

If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.
Benjamin Franklin

A quarrelsome Man has no good Neighbors.
Benjamin Franklin

Time enough, always proves little enough.
Benjamin Franklin

Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.
Benjamin Franklin

Better is a little with content than much with contention.
Benjamin Franklin

Love, and be loved.
Benjamin Franklin

Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.
Benjamin Franklin

Want of Care does us more Damage than Want of Knowledge.
Benjamin Franklin

They that won’t be counselled, can’t be helped.
Benjamin Franklin

Be slow in chusing a Friend, slower in changing.
Benjamin Franklin

Pay what you owe, and you’ll know what’s your own.
Benjamin Franklin

Wish not so much to live long as to live well.
Benjamin Franklin

The Sting of a Reproach, is the Truth of it.
Benjamin Franklin

Proclaim not all thou knowest, all thou owest, all thou hast, nor all thou canst.
Benjamin Franklin

Employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure.
Benjamin Franklin

He that waits upon Fortune, is never sure of a Dinner.
Benjamin Franklin

How many observe Christ’s Birth-day! How few, his Precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
Benjamin Franklin

They who have nothing to be troubled at, will be troubled at nothing.
Benjamin Franklin

By diligence and patience, the mouse bit in two the cable.
Benjamin Franklin

Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.
Benjamin Franklin

He that can compose himself, is wiser than he that composes books.
Benjamin Franklin

Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other.
Benjamin Franklin

Hunger is the best Pickle.
Benjamin Franklin

Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.
Benjamin Franklin

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Benjamin Franklin

Virtue may not always make a Face handsome, but Vice will certainly make it ugly.
Benjamin Franklin

Don’t throw stones at your neighbours, if your own windows are glass.
Benjamin Franklin

An ounce of wit that is bought, is worth a pound that is taught.
Benjamin Franklin

Avarice and Happiness never saw each other, how then shou’d they become acquainted.
Benjamin Franklin

The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.
Benjamin Franklin

God helps them that help themselves.
Benjamin Franklin

The noblest question in the world is, What Good may I do in it?
Benjamin Franklin

Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thy self?
Benjamin Franklin

No gains without pains.
Benjamin Franklin

He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night.
Benjamin Franklin

When you’re good to others, you are best to yourself.
Benjamin Franklin

Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.
Benjamin Franklin

Beware of him that is slow to anger: He is angry for some thing, and will not be pleased for nothing.
Benjamin Franklin

If you’d know the Value of Money, go and borrow some.
Benjamin Franklin

Would you persuade, speak of Interest, not of Reason.
Benjamin Franklin

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin

You may give a Man an Office, but you cannot give him Discretion.
Benjamin Franklin

There are lazy Minds as well as lazy Bodies.
Benjamin Franklin

Better slip with foot than tongue.
Benjamin Franklin

Haste makes Waste.
Benjamin Franklin

Speak little, do much.
Benjamin Franklin

Approve not of him who commends all you say.
Benjamin Franklin

Do not do what you would not have known.
Benjamin Franklin

Diligence is the mother of good luck.
Benjamin Franklin

Observe all men; thy self most.
Benjamin Franklin

Whate’er’s begun in anger ends in shame.
Benjamin Franklin

Lost time is never found again.
Benjamin Franklin

Tell a miser he’s rich, and a woman she’s old, you’ll get no money of one, nor kindness of t’other.
Benjamin Franklin

Who is strong? He that can conquer his bad Habits.
Benjamin Franklin

Inspirational Epigrams by Oscar Wilde (#346)

Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, poet and playwright It’s the birthday of Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, poet and playwright. Born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, in Dublin on 16th October, 1854, Oscar Wilde is famous for his plays and his confinement and untimely death at age 46. His prominent works include The Picture of Dorian Gray (a novel), Salome (a play), An Ideal Husband (a play), and The Importance of Being Earnest (a play).

Oscar Wilde is also famous for his intellectual humor and witty epigrams. Some of his most famous one-liners include, “Life is never fair. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” And, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” Below are some more of his most inspirational epigrams.

At age 40, Oscar Wilde was arrested and subsequently convicted for two years of hard labor for “gross indecency.” His health deteriorated when he got out of prison and moved to Paris. For the next four years, he travelled around Europe and died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900.

Suggested Reading

Inspirational Epigrams by Oscar Wilde

In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Oscar Wilde

The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
Oscar Wilde

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
Oscar Wilde

The only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.
Oscar Wilde

Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and with his environment.
Oscar Wilde

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
Oscar Wilde

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself; and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.
Oscar Wilde

I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the house-tops.
Oscar Wilde

Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
Oscar Wilde

A sentimentalist is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.
Oscar Wilde

I always pass on good advice. It’s the only thing to do with it. It is never any use to oneself.
Oscar Wilde

The only form of lying that is absolutely beyond reproach is lying for its own sake.
Oscar Wilde

Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life.
Oscar Wilde

True friends stab you in the front.
Oscar Wilde