Confucius was a highly influential Chinese thinker and philosopher who focused on issues of morality and relationships from a personal and societal perspective.
Confucius lived from approximately 551-479 BCE, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. His ideas were developed to counteract what he saw as chaos in society during these times, longing for a return to the golden age of the Zhou dynasty.
His teachings were preserved in the Analects. They articulated the moral decline of China and advocated for a return to virtue in both individuals and governance. For Confucius, this would restore harmony, glory and progress from previous centuries.
To achieve this task, he developed a philosophy of self-cultivation and ritual, and toured North China looking for an audience that would help to implement his ideals. While he didn’t achieve much success during his lifetime, he did teach many students who went on to enact his ideas after his death.
The Han Dynasty (221–206 BC) adopted Confucian ideals. Confucianism went on to become the dominant ideology in China for the next 2,000 years.
Today, Chinese culture revolves largely around what Confucius philosophy and it is a fascinating perspective to consider for people in the west.
Here are 9 powerful lessons based on Confucius teachings.
1) Keep going.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
If you’re moving forward, no matter how slowly, you will eventually achieve your goals. The main point is to be improving and consistent with your hard work. Stay committed.
2) Relationships matter
“Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.”
You are who you surround yourself with. Make sure your friends have values you admire and encourage you to improve yourself.
3) Good things come with a price.
“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
It’s easy to hate, be negative and make excuses. Do you know what takes real courage? Forgiveness, love and putting in maximum effort.
4) Sharpen your tools first.
“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”
Confucius said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is sure to be a failure.” Whatever you are called to do, if you are to succeed, you must first be prepared.
5) To be wrong is nothing.
“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”
To be wronged is no offence. In fact, it’s great to improve yourself and change your perspective on life. Don’t let the past occupy your thoughts.
6) Consider the consequences.
“When anger rises, think of the consequences.” Solomon said, “He that is slow to anger is greater than the mighty.”
Always remember to keep your temper in check and to consider the consequences.
7) Make Adjustments
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
Monitor your progress to make sure you’re moving forward. Obstacles will come, so make sure your flexibility and able to pivot in the right direction.
8) You can learn from everyone
“If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.”
Everyone has been through hardships and different life experiences. We all have a story to tell. Keep that in mind whenever you’re speaking to anyone.
9) All or none.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Try your best. It’s the only way you’ll get the most out of life.
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