36 Life Lessons From Confucius (That Will Help You Grow From Within)

Confucius was an ancient Chinese philosopher whose name is synonymous with Chinese culture. Also known as Confucianism, his philosophy is one of the three belief systems that deeply penetrated the Chinese society and is prevalent even today. The other two being, Buddhism and Taoism. In Chinese philosophy, the combined knowledge of these three belief systems (Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism) is popularly known as the ‘three teachings‘.

Confucius strongly espoused family values, sincerity, balance, self inquiry, self awareness, letting go and being open minded.

The following is a collection 38 important life lessons from Confucius that will broaden your perspective of life and your relationship with the universe.

Lesson 1: Life’s challenges are here to help you grow.


“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” – Confucius

Lesson 2: Remember to question everything.


“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” – Confucius

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.


Lesson 3: Be flexible. Adapt yourself to circumstances.


“As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances.” – Confucius

As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances.


“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” – Confucius

Lesson 4: Develop self awareness through self reflection.


“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” – Confucius

He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.


“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” – Confucius

“Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.” – Confucius

Lesson 5: Be persistent and you will attain your goals.


“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.


“A man without persistence will never make a good shaman or a good physician.” – Confucius

Lesson 6: Always be balanced in everything you do.


“Do everything in moderation, even moderation.” – Confucius

Lesson 7: Focus all your energy on a single objective to succeed.


“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” – Confucius

The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.


Lesson 8: Lower your expectations of others. Become more self reliant.


“If you expect great things of yourself and demand little of others, you’ll keep resentment far away.” – Confucius

Expect great things of yourself - Confucius


“The demands that good people make are upon themselves; Those that bad people make are upon others.” – Confucius

Lesson 9: Forgive yourself and others to free yourself.


“Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.” – Confucius

Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.


Lesson 10: Spend time in solitude (in self reflection).


“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

Lesson 11: Always be open to learning.


“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.


“When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it–this is knowledge.” – Confucius

Lesson 12: Try to understand the real essence of things; don’t get lost in the concepts.


“When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.” – Confucius

When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.


Lesson 13: Love & Respect yourself first.


“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” – Confucius

Lesson 14: Let go of the past.


“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” – Confucius

Lesson 15: Let go of hate and feelings of revenge.


“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” – Confucius

“The ultimate revenge is living well and being happy. Hateful people can’t stand happy people. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” – Confucius

Lesson 16: Learn from your mistakes.


“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.” – Confucius

Lesson 17: Learn from your past to change your future.


“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

Lesson 18: Small consistent efforts produce big results.


“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius

“The journey with a 1000 miles begins with one step.” – Confucius

Lesson 19: Divert your focus to empowering thoughts.


“Your life is what your thoughts make it.” – Confucius

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” – Confucius

Lesson 20: Change your habits to change yourself.


“All people are the same; only their habits differ.” – Confucius

Lesson 21: Realize that life is simple.


“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Lesson 22: Try to see the good in everything.


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

“A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace.” – Confucius

Lesson 23: Have friends who are equal to or better than you.


“Have no friends not equal to yourself.” – Confucius

“Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself. ” – Confucius

Lesson 24: Find happiness in the simple things.


“Coarse rice to eat, water to drink, my bent arm for a pillow – therein is happiness. Wealth and rank attained through immoral means are nothing but drifting clouds.” – Confucius

Lesson 25: Be yourself to the very core of your being.


“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” – Confucius

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Lesson 26: Beware of flattery.


“He who flatters a man is his enemy. he who tells him of his faults is his maker.” – Confucius

Lesson 27: Do what you love.


“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Lesson 28: It’s only through taking action that you truly understand something.


“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

Lesson 29: To make a change, start with yourself.


“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” – Confucius

Lesson 30: Embrace change.


“They must often change who would remain constant in happiness and wisdom.” – Confucius

Lesson 31: Always be open to learning and to disperse your knowledge.


“Never tire to study. And to teach to others” – Confucius

Lesson 32: Recognize in yourself the bad you see in others and try to correct it.


“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.” – Confucius

“When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.” – Confucius

Lesson 33: Don’t forget to use your imagination.


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Confucius

Lesson 34: Talk less, act more.


“The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.” – Confucius

“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” – Confucius

Lesson 35: Focus on the solution than on the problem.


“Better light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Confucius

Lesson 36: Be broad minded. Do not let yourself be ruled by your beliefs and ideas.


“The noble-minded are all-encompassing, not stuck in doctrines. Little people are stuck in doctrines.” – Confucius

“The nobler type of man is broad-minded and not prejudiced. The inferior man is prejudiced and not broad-minded.” – Confucius


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About the Author
Mukesh is the founder of Outofstress.com. He is a writer, author and meditation teacher. Having suffered from anxiety and depression for a good part of his adult life, he used meditation, attention training and self awareness to break free from these limiting mind patterns. You can learn more on his personal blog - ConsciousReset.com
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