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Addendum—Pithy Proverbs

“A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.”Eric Tainter


Throughout my life, I’ve collected quotes and proverbs in order to open, refresh, remind, and re-stimulate my mind and inspire my day. Before the high-tech explosion, I would put them in manila folders and then randomly distribute them in my 42 tickler files. This somewhat archaic method would then allow them to pop up either daily or monthly. As time passed, I would bundle them under selected subsets and rotate them. When I needed inspiration, motivation, faith, energy, a startling reality, or a diversion, they would be readily available.  Over time I placed some folders in my car for stoplights, severe traffic delays, waiting in doctors’ offices, or long lines. As of late, they are now in my notepad and phone for quick access. It’s easy to do, and I heartily recommend it. 


These special messages were both a godsend and a bright bit of sunshine many times throughout my life. Probably the most critical times of need were distressing episodes, such as a sudden death or sad news, a work crisis, or a family dilemma. I especially found them indispensable after the deaths of my brother and brother-in-law, my dad’s final days, my in-laws' serious illness and deaths, as well as momentary financial, business, or work-related setbacks. These most treasured collections saved me many times from the grips of anxiety, frustration, or depression.

For many years I’ve collected as many proverbs as I was able to find. As one might suspect, proverbs were created from life’s realities, obstacles, conclusions, and consequences. They succinctly capsulize creative flashes and rare wisdom. John Keats, a famous poet, commented that a “Proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.” Consequently, many countries, as well as individuals, have captured their proverbs from the various illustrations found in their own national experiences.

The Pithy Proverbs below have been alphabetically organized by continent, country, or related origin. Obviously, you will find the most copious and profound were written by the Chinese. Their culture has a rich tradition of storytelling and succinct synopsis of basic truths and observations. Review all nationalities, and choose those that are most meaningful to you. Since this book is meant to be digital and interactive, you can save your favorites for your periodic personal review. 



“A little subtleness is better than a lot of force.”—African proverb


“The one who listens is the one who understands.”—African proverb


“Hesitation enhances fear.”—Nigerian proverb


“Only speak when your words are better than your silence.”—Arabic proverb


“Peace is costly, but it is worth the expense.”—Kenyan proverb



“If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.”—Buddhist proverb


“With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.”—Chinese proverb


“The man who removes mountains begins by carrying away small stones.”—Chinese proverb


“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”—Chinese proverb


“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty.”—Lao-Tzu


“To know and not to use is not yet to know.”—Buddhist proverb


“A book is like a garden carried in your pocket.”—Chinese proverb


“To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”—Chinese proverb


“Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.”—Chinese proverb


“The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of their homes.”—Confucius


“The strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink.”—Chinese proverb


“If you always give, you will always have.”—Chinese proverb


“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”—Chinese proverb


“When we come face-to-face, our differences vanish.”—Chinese proverb


“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a book without a source, a tree without a root.”—Chinese proverb


“When you have completed 95% of your journey, you are only halfway there.”—Japanese proverb


“Adversity is the best source of strength.”—Japanese proverb


“Where the heart is willing, it will find 1000 ways, but where it is unwilling, it will find 1000 excuses.”—Indonesian proverb


“They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.”—Hindu proverb


“A kind word is like a spring day.”—Russian proverb


“A spoken word is like a sparrow. Once it flies out, you can’t catch it.”—Russian proverb


“Who gossips to you will gossip of you.”—Turkish proverb


“A wound heals, but bad words never fade.”—Philippine proverb



“He who gives to me teaches me to give.”—Danish proverb

“Good advice is no better than bad advice unless it is taken at the right time.” —Danish proverb

“Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.” —Danish proverb

“Better lose the anchor than the whole ship.” —Dutch proverb

“Good things required time.” —Dutch proverb

“Every sore has it salve.” —English proverb

“Patience makes all hardships light.” —Estonian proverb

“Justifying the fault doubles it.” —French proverb

“Foul linen should be washed at home.” —French proverb

“To the unwilling, nothing is easy.” —Gaelic proverb

“Continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.” —German proverb

“A good lie finds more believers than a bad truth.” —German proverb

“There is no one luckier than he who thinks himself so.” —German proverb

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” —Irish proverb

“Before you can score, you must first have a goal.” —Greek proverb

“It is good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness, we recognize the value of health; through evil the value of good; through hunger the value of food; through exertion the value of rest.” —Greek proverb


“Cherish what you have and struggle for better.” —Greek proverb

“Silence is a fence around wisdom.” —Hebrew proverb

“He who is aware of his folly is wise.” —Hebrew proverb

“Do not be wise in words, but wise in deeds.” —Hebrew Proverb

“If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.” —The Talmud

“He that can’t endure the bad will not live to see the good.” —Yiddish proverb

“What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.” —Yiddish proverb

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” —Irish proverb

“After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.” —Italian proverb

“After the ship is sunk, everyone knows how she might have been saved.” —Italian proverb

“Don’t kindle a fire you can’t put out.” —Italian proverb

“By learning, you will teach; by teaching, you will learn.” —Roman proverb

“Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.” —Italian proverb

“Deliberate often--- decide once.” —Roman proverb

“Live to learn, and you will learn to live.” —Portuguese proverb

“Change yourself, and fortune will change with you.” —Portuguese proverb

“Don’t let your sorrow come higher than your knees.” —Portuguese proverb

“Anger is the only thing to put off till tomorrow.” —Slovakian proverb

“It is not the same to talk of bulls as to be in the bull ring.” —Spanish proverb

“A little spark kindles a great fire.” —Spanish proverb


“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.” —Swedish proverb


“What the moment broke may take years to mend.” —Swedish proverb

“He that would be a leader must be a bridge.” —Welsh proverb



“There is a great distance between said and done.” —Puerto Rican proverb

“A clear conscience sleeps during thunder.” —Jamaican proverb

“Life is like this: sometimes sun, sometimes rain.” —Fijian proverb

“A fault recognized as half corrected.” —Author Unknown

“It is twice as hard to crush a half-truth than a whole lie.” —Author Unknown

“Strive to be a person who is never absent from an important act.” —Native American, OSAGE proverb


“Advice: judge by results and not by intentions.” —Cicero

“Words and haste do friendships waste.” —Author unknown

"A pinch of probably is worth a pound of perhaps." —James Thurber

"It is not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much." —Eric Fromm

"By the yard life is hard; by the inch, life's a cinch." —Zig Zigler

"Let your life lightly dance on the edge of time, like dew on the tip of a leaf." —Rabbi Tagore

"The eye of a friend is a good looking glass." —Author Unknown


"Your very best friend is one who brings out the very best in you." —Author Unknown

"The only way to live happily with people is to overlook their faults and admire their virtues." —Author Unknown


"It is not so much we know, as how well we use what we know." —Author Unknown

"Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you." —Maori Proverb

"Peace takes the will, the courage, and the hope of the whole village, but starts with the individual." —Yo-Yo-Ma


SOME OTHER OLD SAWS—Authors Unknown:

“Patience is a virtue.”                                                             


“Haste makes waste.”

“Beauty is only skin-deep.”                                          


“If first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

“As you sow, so you reap.” 


“Look before you leap.”

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”


“As you make your bed, so you must sleep in it.”

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