Our collection of wise Chinese sayings about love and life are still as powerful today as they were in ancient times.
If you’re looking for words of encouragement to help keep you on your path, these Chinese proverbs are exactly what you didn’t know you needed.
Chinese proverbs can be taken from literary works, social expressions, as well as sayings from both famous people and common folk.
It can be difficult to translate them, as most can seem funny or nonsensical at first (e.g. “The friendship of a gentleman is insipid as water.”).
But once you understand their true meaning, they can convey plenty of truth and wisdom.
We hope these Chinese proverbs and quotes help motivate you through some of life’s most demanding times.
Don’t forget to also check out these Rumi quotes that will expand your mind in ways you never knew.
Great Chinese proverbs about life and patience
1. “To believe in one’s dreams is to spend all of one’s life asleep.” – Chinese Proverb
2. “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.” – Chinese Proverb
3. “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” – Chinese Proverb
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of planning quotes to help you take control of your life.
4. “If your strength is small, don’t carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don’t give advice.” – Chinese Proverb
5. “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” – Chinese Proverb
6. “Man’s schemes are inferior to those made by heaven.” – Chinese Proverb
7. “A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows the public opinion.” – Chinese Proverb
8. “Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.” – Chinese Proverb
9. “A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.” – Chinese Proverb
10. “If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.” – Chinese Proverb
Inspiring Chinese proverbs on learning and education
11. “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Chinese Proverb
12. “A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.” – Chinese Proverb
13. “A book holds a house of gold.” – Chinese Proverb
14. “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” – Chinese Proverb
15. “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” – Chinese Proverb
16. “A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.” – Chinese Proverb
17. “A fool judges people by the presents they give him.” – Chinese Proverb
18. “A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.” – Chinese Proverb
19. “A nation’s treasure is in its scholars.” – Chinese Proverb
20. “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb
You might also like these wise Native American quotes on community, respect, and more.
Chinese proverbs about friendship
21. “A man should choose a friend who is better than himself. There are plenty of acquaintances in the world; but very few real friends.” – Chinese Proverb
22. “If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap. If you want happiness for a day – go fishing. If you want happiness for a month – get married. If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else.” – Chinese Proverb
23. “Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.” – Chinese Proverb
24. “Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.” – Chinese Proverb
25. “Teachers open the door but you must walk through it yourself.” – Chinese Proverb
26. “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Chinese Proverb
27. “With true friends…even water drunk together is sweet enough.” – Chinese Proverb
28. “If you stand straight, do not fear a crooked shadow.” – Chinese Proverb
29. “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese Proverb
30. “Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.” – Chinese Proverb
Famous Chinese proverbs about love
31. “Love is not about possession, it’s all about appreciation.” – Chinese Proverb
32. “After you’ is good manners.” – Chinese Proverb
33. “A friend to everybody is a friend to nobody. – Chinese Proverb
34. “Love at first sight. It’s generally used for people, but you can also use it for other physical objects.” – Chinese Proverb
35. “Coming events cast their shadows before them.” – Chinese Proverb
36. “All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Chinese Proverb
37. “A straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe.” – Chinese Proverb
38. “A good book is a good friend.” – Chinese Proverb
39. “Time is money, and it is difficult for one to use money to get time.” – Chinese Proverb
40. “Opportunity knocks at the door only once.” – Chinese Proverb
Inspirational Chinese proverbs that will make you think
41. “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb
42. “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without root.” – Chinese Proverb
43. “Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.” – Chinese Proverb
44. “Outside noisy, inside empty.” – Chinese Proverb
45. “To talk much and arrive nowhere is the same as climbing a tree to catch a fish.” – Chinese Proverb
46. “One generation plants the trees, and another gets the shade.” – Chinese Proverb
47. “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” – Chinese Proverb
48. “He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness.” – Chinese Proverb
49. “If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it.” – Chinese Proverb
50. “Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.” – Chinese Proverb
Wise Chinese proverbs
51. “A little impatience will spoil great plans.” – Chinese Proverb
52. “Talk does not cook rice.” – Chinese Proverb
53. “A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.” – Chinese Proverb
54. “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” – Chinese Proverb
55. “If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.” – Chinese Proverb
56. “One meal won’t make a fat man.” – Chinese Proverb
57. “Clothing is cherishable when new, but relationship when old.” – Chinese Proverb
58. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – Chinese Proverb
59. “Opportunity knocks at the door only once.” – Chinese Proverb
60. “Do not choose the one you don’t trust and trust the one you chose.” – Chinese Proverb
Other wise Chinese proverbs to inspire and teach
61. “All things change, and we change with them.” – Chinese Proverb
62. “There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.” – Chinese Proverb
63. “He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.” – Chinese Proverb
64. “A single conversation with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”- Chinese Proverb
65. “He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.” – Chinese Proverb
66. “Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.” – Chinese Proverb
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of listening quotes that express the importance of listening.
67. “Genius can be recognized by its childish simplicity.” – Chinese Proverb
68. “Even a hare will bite when it is cornered.” – Chinese Proverb
69. “Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”- Chinese Proverb
70. “Distant water does not put out a nearby fire.” – Chinese Proverb
71. “A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood.” – Chinese Proverb
72. “Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character.” – Chinese Proverb
73. “Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.” – Chinese Proverb
74. “Do not afraid of moving slowly. Be afraid of standing still.”- Chinese Proverb
75. “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”- Chinese Proverb
More Chinese proverbs
76. “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese Proverb
77. “When the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills.” – Chinese Proverb
78. “He who is afraid of suffering is already suffering fear. Out of fear, true creativity is blocked.” – Chinese Proverb
79. “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you give him a fishing rod, you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb
80. “At the gambling table, there are no fathers and sons.” – Chinese Proverb
81. “Keep a green tree alive in your heart, and a songbird may come to sing there.” – Chinese Proverb
82. “To use violence is to already be defeated.” – Chinese Proverb
83. “If you are in the business of revenge, then you better dig two graves.” – Chinese Proverb
84. “If Heaven made him – earth can find use for him.” – Chinese Proverb
85. “If you want to know what water is don’t ask the fish.” – Chinese proverb
Did you enjoy these wise Chinese proverbs?
They also have an interesting take on things – and it is this difference in perspective that makes discovering these Chinese proverbs all the more fascinating.
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March 19, 2021 6:00 AM EST