Lao Tzu’s Answer to Modern Living


He believed our happiness was tied to acceptance – following the natural order of things and not trying to fight, push back or struggle with things in our life.

Ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu is said to have been the creator of the Tao philosophy (meaning “the way” or “the path”) – based on simple, humble living. While his writings date back 2,500 years, these 7 quotes have special meaning today in our time-starved world of confusion and distraction.

1. Make time.

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”

We all have exactly the same amount of time, down to the second. Why then do some of us accomplish so much more than others? The secret is in “making” time. You are the creator of the time you set aside to undertake important tasks. It’s not that we have so little time. It’s that we waste so much of it.

2. Things not happening? Here’s the secret.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Here is Lao’s business plan: start. Today, so many of us cannot start things because we are so easily distracted – by other people, technology, even our own wandering minds. Use the weekend to review your life. Pinpoint critical areas in need of attention. Then pick the easiest entry point.

3.  What “they” say is not so important.

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

Caring too much about the opinions of others will leave you eternally unhappy. There is one person you’re forgetting whose opinion counts the most – your own.

4. Avoid overthinking.

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.”

Lao believed in just being quiet in our minds. Mind pollution in which we relentlessly think and re-think our problems, is a threat to our well being. Most startling is that it doesn’t create solutions, it prevents them. When we are relaxed, of clear mind, solutions then make themselves known.

5. Stop fighting. 

“By letting go it all gets done.”

Things become a big deal because we make it so. The louder we complain, the bigger the problem seems. While we cannot ignore our problems, we must also not give them more attention than they deserve. So many things I have worried about in my life never materialized.

6. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

“Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”

It’s good to be proud of your accomplishments. But boasting, bragging and talking about them excessively will make you unattractive. A confident person does not need or seek the validation of others. She or he only needs their own inner validation.

7. Change gears.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

It was true 260 centuries ago, and it’s true today. Many of us seek a simpler life. Things have become complicated and overly fast-paced. But it doesn’t need to be that way. We can take inventory of our life, remove the clutter and be left with just a few priorities which we can choose to work towards with patience. We can then add something many of us possess but seldom have the chance to exercise: our compassion. Compassion for others, for our community, for life itself – to breed the happiness, purpose and meaning we seek and need.

Lao Tzu wrote his beliefs in an ancient manuscript called “Tao Te Ching” generally regarded by historians as one of the most profound philosophical texts ever written.

We must let go of the fight. Accept, simplify, and care for others.

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