Proverbial Thursday- Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you think so too. 

The proverb this week comes from Kenya, but is it just speaking of material possessions?

Stolen things bring in misfortune

(Kenyan Proverb)


Quote of the Week: –

I keep returning to Nietzsche, for he has much to say and it is often controversial, provocative, deep and timeless. When I read this quote I pondered about mental health.

Depression and anxiety, for instance, appears to be verging on epidemic proportions, in today’s society. This quote, with particular reference to difficult life circumstances, gives some advice.

But, is it helpful? What do you think?

woodcut copy

To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Does it any relevance to a situation you know ?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

  Proverbial Thursday –  Something serious to Ponder About


26 thoughts on “Proverbial Thursday- Global Wisdom”

  1. That’s a bit of a depressing sort of quote this week Amanda, but apt for mental health week perhaps. Yes, depression is reaching epidemic proportions. I wonder if that’s because of everyone’s pursuit of the allusive ‘happiness’. I’m happy with contentment myself, but also appreciate life is full of balances, and there has to be some ‘suffering’. Otherwise how would we know what it is to feel contented, it needs the relativity of the opposites to understand what each phase is all about. For me, my mantra to get me through the ‘suffering’ is “this too will pass”. The contentment always follows (eventually).

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    1. I agree it is a depressing sort of quote, Chris. Nietzsche himself suffered with mental ill-health, so perhaps he is coming from that angle?
      I do think there is a subliminal expectation that life is going to be happy, and that this is constantly reinforced by happy people on television and media. Social media too – those posts are more often about the good things that happen. For instance, only posting when you are bragging about something good rather than a balanced view of the highs and lows of life.
      I feel that we have touched on contentment as opposed to happiness before, and I fully concur with your thinking that contentment is a more achievable goal than happiness. There is even a book called ‘The Happiness Trap!’
      I think that is a fabulous point you make too, about needing to know the dips, in order to appreciate the high points, of life. And I also think that one’s expectation of high points levels out somewhat as we age. We can feel joy and contentment, at seemingly simple things, like a beautifully cooked meals, a tilled garden bed blooming in flowers, a smile on a young child’s face, the laughter and giggling of children, a get together with friends, or even a walk along the beach. All these things are external, and yet happiness or contentment is felt internally. I think your mantra has probably encouraged resilience and determination in your own self. This too shall pass, is in essence, the same as my ‘go to’ proverb – which comes from Norway: “Everything, like bad weather, passes.” Similarly, I find another one just as inspirational, in that it encourages me to look forward and not back at the dark areas:
      “Turn your face towards the sun and the shadows will always fall behind you.”
      Although we have to be careful to slip slop and slap when we turn towards the sun, here! LOL!
      I wasn’t aware that it was mental health week, so thanks for alerting me to that. I think many people ARE struggling but many people also feel exhausted that they have not yet found a “solution,” to their problems. Then they give up and become depressed. They find their black hole is so deep they expect someone else to get them out of it, not realising that they have all the resources they need within themselves to do it. And they are the only ones who really can. Life is a series of problems that we have to solve. If we don’t or can’t solve them, or find meaning in the suffering, as Nietzsche alludes, we miss the lesson life is trying to teach us! I have a friend who retreats into alcohol as she claims that there is no enjoyment in life, and so she tries to find enjoyment in other ways, through alcohol. Only it doesn’t appear to be working for her, from my point of view. At least Nietzsche helps one get a perspective of sorts, rather than pain being dealt out for no reason……..


    1. The Kenyan proverb is similar to the principle of Karma, or in butting heads with the law! It certainly is apt across the board, but does it only relate to material objects. Perhaps it could also relate to stolen innocence, trust and love? I feel that the universe takes note of this continual balance and at some point it will be redressed. Some Asians culture believe that if you commit wrongdoings, you are cursed for four generations! That is certainly a heavy price to pay.
      Who are you thinking, would be exempt from application of Nietzsche’s quote, Peggy?


  2. Oh yes, the ramifications of stealing apply to things beyond things, perhaps even more so to intangible ‘things’. I’d agree with Nietzsche’s comment across to board if it said ‘to live is to experience’ because life isn’t only about suffering.

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  3. Great quotes! If you take anything that is not intended for you, in the end you will pay for it. I don’t know anyone who has not had some kind of suffering. No one ever asks the question “why am I so happy?” They do ask why they are suffering which opens to the opportunity for self and world reflection. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life. Not so intensely anymore. I’ve changed my perception about so much these days. It runs in my family and it ran in my children’s father’s family. I wish I understood mental illness better because a huge portion of the population is afflicted by some form of it. I feel for those that are depressed when things are good in their lives. It can make you feel absolutely crazy. I hope we figure it out one day very soon.

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    1. You are so perceptive, Marlene! What a good point. People are so focussed on why they are feeling bad, they don’t see that almost everyone is afflicted to some degree. Who is to ‘happy?’ – no one! Perhaps that is where scientific investigation should start. Would people who are always happy not feel the need to self – reflect? Are they putting up a facade to hide their true feelings? If so, does that work for them? I think you have done so well and should take credit for finding your own way through the depressing anxiety mire! It is not at all easy and often returns to haunt those who beat it back. Digging underneath can get to an underlying cause. But also, distracting oneself with other things and keeping very busy not only keeps those destructive inner thoughts in check but might also allow external contributing factors to potentially alter. Whilst the depression is felt internally, the external environment often has a role to play and if so, changes in it can have a very positives effect on the mind. This then becomes a positive loop rather than a negative loop! So much more work IS needed, it is already appears to be verging on epidemic proportions.

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      1. Thank you for your kind words. I probably have the worlds largest collection of self help books and spent a great deal on therapy. It’s been a long road and a lot of learning. My greatest lessons have come from unexpected places. Quantum physics, spiritual (not religious) texts as in poets like Rumi, Lao Tzu, and philosophers. Letting go of guilt and worry were the hardest, most helpful things I have had to do. I’m not talking about the kind of guilt that you have when you do something harmful to others but the kind of thing you let others do to you. It is epidemic in proportions and I think a lot of it comes from the desire to be valued in the world or at least in your own family. A purpose for being here.


        1. Being valued, and a purpose for being here is vitally important for all of us. I think that sense of belonging, that sense of feeling like we are fitting in, as well as receiving, and being able to give, affection, is almost primeval for us humans. We can not progress or develop without it. I am astonished by the breadth of your dedication to analyzing your situation! You must have developed such knowledge. And having knowledge is powerful! The philosophers and poets, you speak of, some I am not familiar with, and quantum physics! This is so interesting that you found some sort of solace and meaning in that! But guilt can be so destructive! And for what? What purpose does guilt serve if there is no lesson in it? What purpose, if any, did guilt serve for you, Marlene?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Guilt only serves if it teaches empathy when you have done something to hurt someone. The knowing of being kind or unkind. The ‘I’m sorry I hurt you’ kind of guilt. It is more like remorse than guilt. Any other reason to apply guilt is wasteful and destructive. We were fed a steady diet of it and I always vowed never to use it on anyone. It is a weapon of mass destruction. As for fitting in, I don’t nor for the most part have I ever. Being loved I know one can almost live without, loving is absolutely necessary. I was very fortunate to have 2 wonderful children whose love sustains me now but the love I gave was what sustained me growing up. Life has given some very interesting lessons.

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              1. Of course. It sounds like a delicate topic and one that you will need to carefully navigate. Writing about oneself in a public forum is brave but sometimes can also be cathartic. Good luck with writing it Marlene. Be kind to yourself.

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  4. Stealing is usually regarded as a crime. For instance, take something from the shop without paying that’s stealing and maybe you will get caught and do the time for your crime. Then again, more generally stealing is also about taking things without asking for permission. We could take something away from someone we know, like take something from a friend and perhaps getting flak from them for it.
    Another great quite from Nietzsche, and it does have a lot of relevance to mental health, anxiety and depression. As Marlene said, no one ever asks why we’re so happy but there seems to be more focus on suffering – and negativity in general in this world. Maybe it’s because of competition, maybe we’re all for championing for ourselves that we forget about others or in turn get lost in what we’re trying to chase – which leads into your question of putting up a facade.
    As someone who has anxiety, I’ve learnt that although you can control it, sometimes there’s only a degree of it (physical aspect, thoughts) you can control. Some kinds of suffering lik this or chronic illness might be persistent thoughout our lives. There is no cure but there is only accepting our condition and being strong enough to also focus on other aspects of life.


    1. I agree Mabel but stealing might also relate to the theft of intangible items, perhaps? At least, this is what I thought of when I read the proverb. Everyone is pretty well aware that stealing is a crime, but there could also be a theft of trust, of virginity, of innocence. All these things and more are not always covered by the criminal code. So, at first thought this proverb seems to be an oxymoron, yet I feel it still has value in reminding us that we have no right to take what really belongs to others, be that intangible or material objects. One could even stretch this proverb to include the theft of time. Some activities waste our time, for instance, watching TV when we are bored, or mindlessly scrolling social media. Whilst it may be interesting to read about other’s lives, or relaxing watching a fictional drama on TV, if it becomes a go to habit, and don’t consider how we can use our time constructively or most usefully, could this also be considered a kind of intro-personal theft, Mabel?

      To answer your comment on anxiety and mental ill health being related to competition, what can I say? It is such a complex area and a widespread problem. Is the problem the competition, or the pressure we put ourselves under to perform? We live in a driven society with a capitalist ethic: more, better, higher, faster etc. In a way, it sets us up to fail at some point. Some of use succeed but all of us will fail at some point, the odds tell us that it is impossible to succeed at every step. That is where you are so right about accepting the condition. This takes the pressure off and focuses our efforts and what we CAN do about a problems rather than what we CAN’T do.
      Again, referring to the competitive element you mentioned and our desire to be faster, better, smarter, etc: Do we feel that a continual state of happiness in tied to repeated success. Is failure something that should be looked at more positively, or even celebrated for its value in a learning tool. Would this lessen anxiety across the board? Or could it make us apathetic about trying? I remember the apathy that pervaded the communist societies of the Eastern block. Were they apathetic but less anxious? It would be interesting to see if there is a connection there.


      1. Now that you mention it, this quote can certain be applied to the intangible. ‘a theft of trust, of virginity, of innocence’, and theft of time. In other words, stolen things can be something we take for granted. Sometimes we get comfortable with something – as you said, scrolling through social media until we get completely absorbed in it. Then we might wonder why we don’t have enough time for ourselves. It sounds like a theft that is unto our own undoing, and we are the ones solely responsible for it. Unless if we’re talking about innocence, perhaps not…because sometimes certain events just make us see the world in a different way and we can’t control what comes our way.

        ‘what we CAN do about a problems rather than what we CAN’T do’ This is so important to remember. The more we focus on what we can do, the more we can focus on getting better at something and bettering our self-confidence. Failure looked at more positively? I think we can start by thinking that failure or not succeeding at something or getting something doesn’t wholly define us – it’s the choices that we make that do, and realising that can go someway into improving self-esteem.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mabel! “Failure or not succeeding at something doesn’t define us – it is the choices we make that do….” That is something profound right there. There would be so many of us that wished that someone told us that ‘failure doesn’t define us ‘ when we were young. That would have framed it in a way that could make a choice to do something positive and constructive about it. It should be a must for all teachers to tell primary students.
          Good point about social media being a theft of our own time. We need to rein it in, if it is too much. How do you manage your social media time? Do you have a routine or set time to check it? Do you block notifications from time to time? I like the ‘Do not disturb’ feature, on my phone so much, I forget to turn it off sometimes. That can be a blessing in disguise!


          1. Any moment of success or failure may not be the case to someone else. It’s all about perspective.
            For me, I don’t have notifications turned on on my phone except for personal messages. I’ve gone days without looking at Facebook and to be honest, don’t feel the need to check most of my social media 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Once to make the break croon social media, it becomes meaningless after a while. I am in a situation where I administrate several Facebook groups soI am tied to checking in, but refuse to do so constantly.
              Agree on the perspective re failure. But would a person be tempted to view it differently if an authority figure suggested a failure was really beneficial?

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