The virtue of patience: All good things come to those who wait

Zhang Ciyun
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
Zhang Ciyun

Patience is widely deemed a traditional virtue deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. Since ancient times, nearly all great Chinese philosophers, statesmen and scholars, including Lao Tzu and Confucius, have fervently preached this ethic.

It follows that there are multiple quotations, proverbs and idioms in the Chinese language extolling the virtue of patience.

One popular expression says xiaoburen zeluandamou, meaning “a little impatience spoils great plans.”


xiǎo bù rěn zé luàn dà móu

In other words, if one cannot tolerate small misfortunes, great things can never be achieved.

From a different angle, people say in English: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

Another Chinese proverb about patience is renyishi fengpinglangjing, tuiyibu haikuotiankong, which literally translates as “to bear for a moment, and the wind shall calm down, and the wave subside; take a step back, and the sea becomes vaster and the sky wider.”


rěn yī shí fēng píng làng jìng


tuì yī bù hǎi kuò tiān kōng

This expression comes from a book entitled “Zengguang Xianwen,” or “Civilian Mottos from Ancient China,” published around the late 16th century in China.

Written chiefly for primary education, the book includes many ancient Chinese aphorisms, proverbs, popular sayings and famous quotations regarding social relationships and acceptable behavior.

The maxim about patience from this book may also be explained by the English saying, “all good things come to those who wait.”

So, in the minds of most Chinese people, patience is not just a virtue, but also wisdom and power.

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