After reading typical self-improvement books for half a decade, I lately decided I want to learn more from ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers.
I highly admire the work of the authors whose content I’ve been consuming for so long, yet stumbling over the following quote made me rethink what type of content to consume in the future:
“If you only read the books that everyone is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
— Haruki Marukami
I won’t say that’s a permanent decision, yet for now, I enjoy learning more about and from ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers.
Lately, I shared an article summarizing what I’ve learned from Confucius. As I received great feedback, I decided to share the lessons of other people I learn from as well.
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This week, I dived deep into understanding who Laozi was and what he created throughout his lifetime.
Laozi was a Chinese philosopher who lived in the 6th century B.C. He is also known as Lao Tsu and is believed to be the founder of Taoism.
Here are life-lessons we can learn from his teachings:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
I assume most of us already stumbled upon this quote a few times. Yet, we often struggle to take it seriously.
In my experience, most people have huge dreams, yet, they fail to start. They precisely fail because they are afraid to start at the bottom.
We often see successful people and follow their achievements on social media. By doing so, we believe success came easily to them. We forget that they also started somewhere.
No matter what we want to achieve, the first steps are always the hardest. We need to cheer on ourselves and be proud of the tiniest achievements, even if the end result is still out of sight.
No matter if it’s a sports competition, a daily blogging habit, building your business, or finding the perfect partner. All of it takes time and effort, yet, they all start with some little action.
Wanna make a full-time income on Medium? Start by writing a blog post today.
Wanna start your own social media agency? Get the first crucial information about the founding process now.
Wanna meet your soulmate? Get clear about which characteristics are a must-have, which are a no-go, and then go to places where you might meet this person.
No matter how big or unachievable a goal might seem, it’s always doable once you break it down into tiny steps.
Or as Marie Forleo puts it:
Everything is figureoutable.
You just have to start somewhere.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
For me, this citation is about forgiving ourselves.
Too often, we are soo busy accusing ourselves of our mistakes, that we hold ourselves back from making progress. Yet, showing self-compassion can be one of our greatest strengths.
There is no need to hold on to the past. We won’t change it anyway, thus, it is much more effective to accept faults and keep going.
We can only create a pleasant future if we stop referring to our mistakes.
Yes, you made mistakes. (At least, I am sure you did because let’s be honest: We all did.) But your mistakes don’t define who you are.
Without faults, we can’t learn and grow. Instead of worrying about who we were in the past, we should focus on our highest potential and give our best to become this best version of ourselves.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
Too often, we define our self-worth based on what others think or say about us. However, those who criticize you usually don’t even know you accurately.
You are the only one who understands your whole point of view and who is aware of all your struggles. Don’t ever let anyone else judge you.
By focusing on others’ opinions, we hold back our true potential and live a life that is not true to ourselves.
In her book, The five regrets of the dying, Bronnie Ware summarized what elderly people regret most, and one of the common answers is the following:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
At the end of your life, you won’t be rewarded for spending your years pleasing others. You will regret it.
Those who don’t accept and appreciate you will probably not even be around you once it gets tough.
Instead of focusing on others’ opinions, we should live a life that is fulfilling to ourselves.
You don’t need people who don’t want you to live your best life. Anyone who truly appreciates you wants you to be happy and satisfied anyway.
Whenever you find yourself getting crazy about the opinion of someone else, ask yourself whether it’s really worth it.
In most cases, the answer will be no.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
Sometimes, silence is the greatest answer to our problems.
Nowadays, we are so used to quick progress and lots of happenings, that we often forget to stand still for a moment.
However, great things are hardly accomplished through negative stress. Our best ideas come when our minds are fresh and calm.
Also, our most beautiful moments in life are those which are full of joy, instead of thoughts.
Too often, the answer is not hurrying and hustling but instead trusting in the universe.
We want to control anything that happens in our lives, yet, that’s not possible anyway.
Almost every day, we face challenges that we couldn’t predict. And the best way to deal with those is to trust in the flow of life.
Have a clear vision of your life, learn to deal with struggles that might come your way, but don’t overstress. You can’t predict life anyway, so let it happen and trust in the universe.
As Gaby Bernstein puts it:
The universe always has your back.
“Stop thinking, and end your problems.”
For many years, I’ve considered myself a great overthinker.
I was really good at creating problems out of my thinking even though everything was going well.
The truth is that most of our problems only exist in our heads.
Instead of focusing on the present moment, we get caught up in rethinking the past or even worrying about the future.
Once we manage to stop overthinking and focus our minds on the now, we can experience a much more pleasant life.
In the past years, I learned how to stop my self-doubt and eliminate overthinking. Admittedly, these were the major game-changers in my life.
The moment I realized I couldn’t control everything anyway and let it go was the moment of relief.
Of course, I still spend time thinking about struggles and problems, yet I don’t overthink. Instead, I focus on problem-solving. And if I realize I can’t do anything about an obstacle, I just let it go.
If I can’t change it, why would I spend time and energy worrying about it?
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Life is not about arriving but about enjoying the ride. That’s a lesson that took me quite some while to understand
I was always chasing dreams and goals. I loved being after specific achievements. It motivated me to keep going even if I didn’t feel like it.
I loved going to school and studying because I always had goals to chase. I knew how to get good grades, and finishing my years successfully was my ultimate goal.
However, at some point, I realized achieving goals didn’t make me happy. It was the journey itself.
If we don’t enjoy the path, we won’t ever be satisfied with the final outcome.
Especially for entrepreneurs, this lesson is crucial.
Life is never about a result. What matters is who we become on our way to achieving a specific goal. It’s about the people we meet, the experiences we make, and the lessons we learn. Not about the trophy at the end.
“The best fighter is never angry.”
Anger is one of the most destructive feelings we can have. Being angry at yourself or others never brings joy or success.
Whenever we are angry, we can be sure there is hate deep within us.
That’s the complete opposite of what we need for a joyful, successful life.
Love is the real secret to happiness.
Every time you get angry because of a happening or person, stop for a moment and reflect on your emotions. What is it that really hurts you? Is it an experience from the past? Is it because you have self-doubts?
Whatever it is, don’t suppress the emotions, allow them to be present, and analyze them. Only by doing so, you can ensure to let go of your anger and all the hate.
Allow your feelings to be present, give them the space they need, and slowly transfer them into love.
Forgive others, and above all, forgive yourself. Make sure your anger doesn’t take control of your words or actions.
Frequently, we regret what we say or do when we are furious. In any given situation, give your best to avoid these regrets. Instead, spread love, even if it’s tough sometimes.
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
Last but definitely not least. This is one of my all-time favorite citations ever.
I genuinely believe the world would be a better place if everyone practiced self-reflection. Most of our struggles occur because we don’t take the time to reflect on our needs, wants, and desires.
Once we know what we want, we can step out and create it. Yet, as long as we aren’t aware of our true desires, we are wandering around, and probably even destroying our future.
There is nothing more beautiful than knowing yourself better than anybody else.
We often analyze others, try to understand what they are doing and how they are succeeding, but we forget to reflect on ourselves.
Learning from others is excellent, so is being mentored by people whom we admire. Yet, true enlightenment only comes through sufficient self-reflection.
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