Essential Life Lessons: Wisdom in Short Proverbs

Categories: Virtues

Honesty is The Best Policy

Honesty is a policy that prays in the long run. There is the story of Lord Alfred Dreyfuss of France who was convicted for being a spy. He spent years in a jail far away from his native land and his countrymen hated him. Then one day the real spy got his story published and the truth came out. Lord Alfred was restored to his original status with all honours and the nation was ashamed of the way it treated him.

All through the trial Lord Dreyfuss kept on saying that he was innocent. Every religion tells us that we must be honest. No one likes dishonest people because they cannot be trusted. The truth is always so simple. Dishonesty is like a web that has no beginning and no end. Sometimes we are punished for being honest, but it is nothing compared to the pain and suffering we cause due to dishonesty. Gandhiji laid great emphasis on the need to be truthful in words and deeds.

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His life throughout was a struggle to uphold the virtue of truth. A truthful man can speak and act with moral conviction. He commands respect and reverence in society.

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Procrastination is the thief of time.

It has been said, „Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today „. Yet there are many people who enjoy postponing things. Such people do not realize the dangers of delaying. Work does not disappear if we postpone it.

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One day or the other it has to be done. The more we postpone, the more the work piles up. Finally we have no choice but to tackle it. Then the amount of work seems too much. We then have to work for long hours under great strain and tension. Finally we do it hurriedly and in a careless manner.

It is as bad as not doing the work at all. Again, when some work is delayed, the time which would have been profitably used is wasted. Time wasted is time lost for ever, Hence procrastination, that is the habit of postponing things, is rightly called the thief of time. Precious time wasted means opportunities lost, and lost forever. by the time we realize how much time we have wasted and how many opportunities we have missed by delaying word, it may be too late. And then nothing remains for us except to regret and repent.

Sometimes a very heavy price has to be paid for delaying things. The person whi delays insuring his house will regret it when the house is gutted by a sudden fire. Delay in the treatment of a disease may make it worse, and may even result in death. The student who goes on postponing studies will need to burn the midnight oil for the last minute preparations.

Cut your coat according to your cloth.

If you give a piece of cloth to a tailor to make a coat, the tailor will first measure the cloth and then decide what kind of coat has to be made out of it. He will not be able to make a coat that requires more material than the cloth provided. The same is the case with our expenses and income. Our expenses should always be within the limits of our income. Otherwise, we surely land in debit and difficulties. The proverb thus tells us not to spend more than what we earn i.e., to live within our means . The proverb applies not only to individuals but also to business establishment. Of course, a company may raise a loan to expand or diversify its business.

But it must do it judiciously; otherwise it will be in deep trouble. Even the government of a country has to keep in mind its total resources while spending.If it does not do so and goes on borrowing recklessly from the people and from foreign countries, it would become bankrupt one day, and come to grief. So the proverb is of universal application. It teaches us that our actions should suit the circumstances or resources. The wisdom of the proverb would guide everybody to live and work within their means and to avoid possible shame or punishment resulting from living beyond their means.

One good turn deserves another.

When someone does you a good deed, you must never forget it. You must look out for the opportunity to do a good deed to that person. If you do not get that opportunity then you must pass on the good deed to someone else. It is quite a strange fact of life, that a good deed done to another always bring some kind of reward to the person who has done the good deed. Hence you must always return good with good.

English proverbs with explanation


Expansion of ideas

There is a simple satisfaction in doing good to other. There is a wonderful poem about a man who helps an old woman across the street. The woman blesses him for helping her. At the end of the poem the man expresses the fond hope that some young man like himself will help his mother when she is in trouble. Therefore, one should never hesitate to do good for others. For one good turn deserves another!

As you show, so shall you reap.

If a farmer desires to reap a harvest of wheat, he sows wheat; if he wants rice, he sows rice. What should we think of him if he planted wheat and expected to harvest rice, or the other way round? We would certainly consider him a mentally unsound person. The law of nature tells us that we must sow what we wish to reap. If we sow nothing, we shall reap nothing. So it is with life. We have always to bear the consequences of our actions. If we perform good deeds, we shall be rewarded with good. If we perform bad deeds, we shall live lives of misery and wretchedness. You cannot achieve fair ends by using foul means. Even if you do, it is short-lived. Lasting peace cannot be brought about by violent means. Good always triumphs over evil.

Man can decide his own future by his present deeds. If he sows the seeds of vice, corruption and sin, he reaps the harvest of misery and ruin. If he plants virtue, purity and goodness, he plucks the golden fruit of success and happiness. If we want to achieve good, we should do good, for as we sow, so shall we reap

Example is better than precept.

People generally like to give advice, but do not like to be advised. All of us are natural -born preachers. But when it comes to practising what we preach, we make up excuses. Very often giving advance can become sheer nagging. It can become so irritating that it has no more or even the opposite effect on the hearer. Children are keen observers. Even though the elders do not know it, children are all the while keenly observing their behaviour. They are aware of the gulf between the adults speech and their actual behaviour, between their words and deeds, between their preaching and practice. Naturally, they do not pay enough heed to the elders advise and instruction. By preaching things which they themselves don‟t practise, the elders only expose themselves as hypocrites and succeed in teaching youngsters a lesson in hypocrisy.

The best way to teach is not to preach but to set and example by actually putting the preaching into practice. This is because human beings and especially children, are imitative by nature. In fact, the instinct to copy is very powerful in human beings. We should make the fullest use of this instinct to teach children what we want them to learn. If a father wants his child to never start the habit of smoking, he should first give up smoking himself. If parents wants their children to pick up good manners, they should themselves be models of good behaviour. In short, we should ourselves do what we want others to do. This is because example is better than precept and deeds are more powerful than words. Actions speak louder than words. An ounce of practise is more than a ton of precept

A friend in need is a friends indeed.

Once it was raining very heavily.It didn‟t seems that it would stop.there was no means of transport to my home coming that way.I wondered how I would reach home.A classmate happened by in a car,He asked me to get in and reached me to my home. From that day on he is one of my best friends.Indeed, a friends in need is a friends Indeed! I have found that many people talk about friendship, but when you need them in the time of crises, somehow they are not to be seen anywhere. It is those who stand by you when you are really in trouble are your friends.It is these people whom you must help when they too are in trouble.Life is all about being there for others.Life is all about carrying and sharing. Do not be taken in by people who talk big and fancy words about friendship.

Updated: Nov 20, 2023
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Essential Life Lessons: Wisdom in Short Proverbs. (2016, Jun 03). Retrieved from

Essential Life Lessons: Wisdom in Short Proverbs essay
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