Quotes, aphorisms, proverbs or whatever you want to call them — I’m a junkie. I picked up the habit from my father, who was an Associated Press journalist. Readers of my nationally syndicated column will recognize them as morals.
They need to be short, snappy and to the point. A good moral or proverb must teach a lesson, and I am not offended when I hear they are readers’ favorite part of my column.
Readers tell me that my morals are displayed on their refrigerators, company bulletin boards, auto dashboards and office walls.
One of my sources is reading proverbs from around the world, since we know so many of the American proverbs. Do some of these sound familiar? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Look before you leap. Two heads are better than one. A friend in need is a friend indeed. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Don’t judge a book by its cover. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Strike while the iron is hot. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
My only problem is that I have collected so many that I will never be able to attach all of them to a column or book chapter. And I think these messages can stand alone, even though I would love to expand on them! Here are some of the best ones I have found from around the world. If you want to read more, a good resource is “Proverbs From Around the World,” compiled by Norma Gleason.
A wise man changes his mind; a fool never will. — Spanish
He is bad who will not take advice, but he is a thousand times worse who takes every advice. — Irish
The thief is sorry that he is to be hanged, not that he is a thief. — English
It is easy to forget a kindness, but one remembers unkindness. — Indian
Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Sigh less, breathe more. Hate less, love more, and all good things are yours. — Swedish
Don’t believe everything you hear, nor tell all that you know. — Italian
He who goes unpunished never learns. — Greek
Where there is no shame, there is no honor. — West African
A good conscience makes a soft pillow. — German
If you strike mud against the wall, even though it does not stick, it will leave a mark. — Arab
The less one thinks, the more one speaks. — French
If you play around the beehive, you must expect to be stung. — Greek
He who has everything is content with nothing. — French
The sky is the same color wherever you go. — Persian
That which one cannot have, one should not desire. — Swedish
What is impossible to change is best to forget. — Slavic
One cannot help many, but many can help one. — Chinese
To make excuses before they are needed is to blame one’s self. — Spanish
Ask the experienced rather than the learned. — Arab
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back. — Chinese
An old broom knows the dirty corners best. — Irish
Water and words are easy to pour, but impossible to recover. — Chinese
Opportunities you have missed will not return. — West African
Hours once lost cannot be regained. — Slavic
You can hardly make a friend in a year, but you can easily offend one in an hour. — Chinese
A man cannot become perfect in 100 years; but he may become corrupt in less than a day. — Chinese
One who grabs too much may lose it all. — Swedish
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. — French
The future belongs to him who knows how to wait. — Russian
Fall seven times, stand up the eighth time. — Japanese
Pride leaves home on horseback, but returns on foot. — German
If only one knows it, it is a secret; if two know it, it is public. — Indian
The sword wounds the body, but words wound the soul. — Arab
Two good talkers are not worth one good listener. — Chinese
Whoever cares to learn will always find a teacher. — German
The one who saves something has something. — Swedish
Liars need good memories. — French
Scales tell us what is light and heavy, but not what is gold and silver. — German
The man who knows the price of everything knows the value of nothing. — Irish
Intelligence consists in recognizing opportunity. — Chinese
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. — Greek
Mackay’s Moral: “Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.” — Chinese
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.