Life advice

Taoists are in general keen to talk about longevity and there are many stories and analogies surrounding the mysterious monks who were still alive at 100 or even 200 years old, living in solitude, retreated from society and practicing Tai Chi Chuan and Taoism in the remote mountains.

I believe everyone on this planet shares a similar desire, to live a long, healthy and happy life. And it is for that reason we always seek something. Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced world with many problems but the only thing we can truly control is inside of ourselves. The ancient sages of Taoism understood this, as did many others like the Stoics who also lend many of their ideas from Taoism. I particularly like this saying by Epictetus which has been a genuine source for the creation of the “Serenity Prayer” which is more known in the US.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing.1

Epictetus (Stoic Philosopher)

Sometimes you come across these marvellous quotes, tips or tricks, or something someone said that stuck with you. I would like to share some of these with you. This list may grow as time passes and I hope you find them useful.

  • Hara Hachi Bu – Fill your belly for 80%
    • This is profound in many ways. It involves confronting greed as much as it is a healthy practice. If you do not overeat, you will simply feel better. At the same time the practice of it will make you realize that enough, is often enough.
  • Never hurry through life, keep a quiet heart.
    • Easier said than done. However, we all know we can rejoice in tranquillity. How wonderful if we could become calm on the inside and thus calm on the outside. The clock will keep on turning and so will the planet. Set out to do what you have to do, when you need to do it. You cannot control the external events.
  • Xin Peng, Qi He – When the heart is calm, the chi flows harmoniously.
  • Avoid extreme emotions of all kinds.
    • Now that’s an easy one, lol. I say practicing Tai Chi Chuan is a good start, but for most of us it is a life-time quest.
  • Observe a daily regimen of exercise and breathing; regularity over intensity (and duration)
    • My favorite. There are so many similar sayings throughout the world that mean the same, “do the big things when they are small”, and this regularity also applies to other aspects of our lives like our beliefs and mindsets. If we could only remind ourselves, to be mindful, not to get discouraged, and not to judge others, we would slowly but diligently change our lives positively, and therefore positively influence others as well. Start with the little things. You want rich people to share their money, start by sharing your water.
  • Practice mindfulness through practices like Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong.
  • Concentrate on one thing at a time to achieve flow.
  • Go for walks in nature, preferably in the early mornings to connect to the universe and marvel at the beauty of our existence.
  • Respect all living beings, for the universe we are all made out of the same energy, it is indifferent. It is nonsense to disregard our interdependence.
  • Before you judge anyone, walk a mile in their shoes. 

1 Epictetus (1983), Handbook. Trans. Nicholas White. Indianapolis: Hackett. Section 1.1