avatarTim J. Schroeder


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5 Quotes by Lao-Tse That Once Understood Will Change Everything

Taoism 101

In a world filled with trendy insights, the ancient wisdom of Lao-Tse remains a timeless force.

Not because it’s written in some old books but because it still has the power to change our lives for the better. Yes, even today, many thousand years after he died. Why?

Because Lao-Tse was as wise as a human being can get.

Here are my 5 favorite quotes of Lao-Tse that, once understood, will change everything.

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

I know you only think about the destination.

And I don’t blame you. Because I still struggle with thinking about it too much.

I still ask myself daily if what I’m doing is worth it. If I began to walk the right path. There are days when imposter syndrome strikes harder than Merryweather.

But guess what? You never know.

Not even in your boring 9 to 5, which you think is a safe bet.

You have no idea if things work out eventually.

Why bother, then?

Don’t think about the end. Think about the first step. And then take the second. As a child, you didn’t know about running before even walking.

You thought about taking the first step.

Maybe you failed, so you repeated.

If it was successful, you thought about your second step and took it.

That’s the right attitude.

Don’t care about where you’re at in five years. Care about what you do today. Make it count. Then repeat.

If you try to start running, you’ll fall before you can even walk.

Don’t overthink; take your first step.

“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power”

It’s easy to give others directions.

It’s even easier to take directions from others. But giving ourselves directions is difficult.

Yet, it’s where the real magic happens.

Lao-Tse knew that. He was convinced mastering others shows a high level of strategy, maybe even mastermind. But it can’t be the end goal.

Because what’s worth a king who’s messed up in his head?


Instead, Lao-Tse pointed towards mastering ourselves by having more discipline, a rare virtue nowadays.

Yet, it’s one of the most powerful because it enables us to reign over mind and body. This allows us to achieve the things we’d never have expected.

Don’t focus on controlling others; focus on controlling yourself.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”

It’s a weird thing to think, isn’t it?

How can somebody respect me if I don’t take the highway of life and am stuck in traffic? Because people love authenticity.

While keeping up with the Jones will make you look cool on the outside, being authentic will actually make you a great human being.

People have seen too much shithousery already. They want authenticity.

When I first started exercising in the gym, I felt like shit. Not because the workouts were so exhausting, but because I couldn’t handle seeing other people being buffer than I was.

I dragged myself to the gym, only to torture my body with heavy weights and mind with good-looking people and my comparison to them.

I felt better only when I stopped going to the gym and started working out outside. I could focus more on the workouts itself.

Ironically enough, now I get approached by people who say I do well and want to have tips.

Why? Because I started being content with simply myself.

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

I was part of the rat race, too.

The Minimalists taught me better. They’ve opened my eyes.

Disappointed by working a 9 to 5, I looked for help. I asked my sometimes wise, but often silly, friend Google.

The internet works in mysterious ways, so I eventually stumbled across The Minimalists, Henry David Thoreau, and others sharing this exact idea of Lao-Tse.

Growth is a losing game.

You want more money, you get more money, only to want even more money and feel as crap as you’ve been feeling before.

Although you have $100.000 more in the bank.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Appreciate what you have already and learn to be content with it. Because then everything else can be a pleasant bonus.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”

Why are we always so stressed?

My theory? We’re too detached from nature.

Although we have the perfect example that good things take time with every flower we stumble across, we don’t see it anymore.

There’s no shortcut.

But we’re desperate to find one.

Have you looked on X or even LinkedIn these days? Most people try to sell you instant fame/success/wisdom.

It sticks. Because in most places, we’re told that life’s a race.

You need to have a well-paying job by age 25, a marriage by age 27, a family by age 30, and a house by age 32. Don’t forget all the other material stuff and status you need to live a fulfilling life.

The peak of all that BS? Forbes 30 under 30.

Disclaimer: you aren’t a loser, a bad person, or horrible when you didn’t achieve any of that.

And you didn’t fall behind.

Why? Because it’s your life. You have the choice to do what you want. And yes, you could do better, but I could, too. So could anybody else.

Lao-Tse knew that.

He understood that life’s no race but a marathon. It isn’t about earning big, having a name, and status.

It’s about doing what you like, letting it grow and blossom like a flower. Because nature takes its time.

Be more like nature.

These quotes of Lao-Tse have the power to change everything if we let them by:

  • starting with a single step towards our goals
  • mastering ourselves instead of others
  • being content with ourselves
  • being content with what we have already
  • embrace being patient

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Self Improvement
Personal Growth
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