Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It is important to reflect on things of the past, present and future. This practice keeps us grounded to the purpose we have set or have yet to set for ourselves. Examining our lives helps us determine where we are headed and whether that coincides with where we intend to go. It gives us direction so that we don’t wander around aimlessly. Moreover, we are not perfect so at many points in our past, we have certainly made mistakes, both big and small. It is through the process of reflection that we learn from those mistakes and avoid them in the future.
Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.”
Probably the best step to take when we first want to learn anything is to admit that we, in fact, do not know anything. A perspective like this will open our minds to all possibilities and knowledge offered to us. An empty glass will accommodate fresh water to its capacity, while a half-full glass will only hold so little.
The similarity in both quotations stems from humility. Admitting that we know nothing, that we have made mistakes and that we need guidance, is opening ourselves to be taught and guided with wisdom.
Lao Tzu: “Abandon learning and there will be no sorrow.”
To gain knowledge brings enlightenment. It opens our eyes to things and details we would not notice had we been ignorant of them. It is this benefit of knowing that we starve for more knowledge. This is when it can become dangerous and detrimental to our well-being. When we know more, we will want more. Alas, we will not always get what we want.
Confucius: “Let the other man do his job without your interference.”
It is human nature to extend a helping hand to people we find are having a difficult time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, there are times when, instead of helping with good intentions, people become dependent and not able to stand on their own feet. Especially with loved ones, it can be difficult to see them having a hard time. But they have to go through it.
Lao Tzu: “The greatest eloquence seems to stutter.”
Some people are gifted with eloquence and glibness. They are masters of persuasion through artful use of language. However, it does not follow that they speak with depth and substance. It is better to keep quiet. Should there be a need to convey something of importance, speak in the fewest number of words possible.