Lao Tzu Be content with what you have, you are truly rich
You can find the phrase of Lao Tzu in Chapter 33 of Tao Te Ching.
This is the original text – 知足者富. 知 means to know, 足 means enough, 者 means the person who is …, and 富 means rich. So we may translate the phrase also as “Those who know that they have enough are truly rich”.
Many people dismiss it as a banal advice. It, however, is liberating if you can appreciate the underlying message.
These are the three ways that you can learn from it:
- Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t
- Focus on the present
- Be liberated
First, when you know that you have enough, you’d focus on what you have instead of what you don’t.
Career, money, grades, houses. The number of things we can dream of having is endless. So is the number of people who are better, or luckier, than us.
If we don’t focus on what we have, it can be disheartening because we will always feel deprived, anxious, and insecure.
It is like climbing a mountain without a firm foothold. Either we cannot move ahead, or we will be wasting our energy on useless efforts. It can even put us in danger.
Knowing we have enough and focus on what we have will make all the difference.
If we are learning to swim, celebrate when we can float on the water. If we are in business, build on serving the existing customers, and this will attract new customers to come to us
It doesn’t mean that we should not dream. It is just that we should begin, and be happy with, what we have. Knowing that we have enough gives us strength.
Second, when we know that we have enough, we live in the present.
We are alive because of the present. When there is no distraction, nothing will take us away from making the most from it. We live more.
“Less is gain, more is in disarray,” says Lao Tzu in Chapter 22.
When we are eating, enjoy what we eat. When we are talking to our loved ones, enjoy every moment of exchange.
Third, when we know that we have enough, it is a liberation.
There is no keeping up with the Joneses and no self-doubt about how good we are or what we can do.
We are natural and confident, as a bird that flies and a fish that swims.
It gives us a breath of freedom.
No wonder Lao Tzu says, “Those who know that they have enough are truly rich.”