Life lessons

Here are some bits of wisdom that guide us on our way.

May you find something useful to you in these words, and share your favorite life lessons with us too.

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. 

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?  

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? 

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. 

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

– Khalil Gibran 


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. 

One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. 

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. 

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. 

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. 

“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. 

“Maybe,” replied the old man. 

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and
broke his leg. 

The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. 

“Maybe,” answered the farmer. 

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.

The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. 

“Maybe,” said the farmer.


You are the sky. Everything else is just temporary weather.

– Pema Chodron 


Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. 

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. 

They come together and they fall apart. 

Then they come together again and fall apart again. 

It’s just like that. 

The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.  

– Pema Chodron 


Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.  

– Buddhist proverb


There is the mud, and there is the beautiful lotus flower that grows out of the mud. 

We need the mud to make the lotus flower. 

No mud, no lotus. 

Same thing in life. 

– Thich Nhat Hanh


The obstacle is the path. 

– Zen proverb


Because you are alive, everything is possible. 

Waking up this morning, I smile 

Twenty-four new hours are before me 

I vow to live fully in each moment 

And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion. 

– Thich Nhat Hanh


Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. 

– Jellaludin Rumi


It isn’t the things that happen to us that cause us to suffer, it’s how we relate to the things that happen to use that causes us to suffer. 

To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening. 

Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – this is the spiritual path. 

– Pema Chodron


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? 

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. 

We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. 

And as we let our own light shine, we give other people permission to do the same.As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 

– Marianne Williamson


The best way out is always through.

– Robert Frost 


The sage has no fixed mind; he is aware of the needs of others. 

Those who are good he treats with goodness. Those who are bad he also treats with goodness because the nature of his being is good. 

He is kind to the kind. He is also kind to the unkind because the nature of his being is kindness. 

He is faithful to the faithful; He is also faithful to the unfaithful. 

The sage lives in harmony with all beings. He sees everything as his own self; He loves everyone as his own child. 

All people are drawn to him. 

– Tao Te Ching


Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. 

– Rumi 


Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. 

– Pema Chodron


Out of the night that covers me,        

Black as the pit from pole to pole, 

I thank whatever gods may be      

For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance      

I have not winced nor cried aloud. 

Under the bludgeonings of chance        

My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears      

Looms but the Horror of the shade, 

And yet the menace of the years    

Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,        

How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate,      

I am the captain of my soul. 

– William Ernest Henley



When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. 

When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. 

– Lao Tzu  


For more life lessons, please check out our Psychology section.

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