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Discovering yourself

During their high school and college years, students often find such anxiety and trying to discover who they are. When students arrive at colleges, they hear the same thing over and over again: Use these years do find yourself. Learn to play the piano, write for the school’s newspaper, or immerse yourself in the works of Charles Dickens. Yet, students still find that they can’t figure out who they are and what they want to do. So what should students do? Read Confucius, Mencius, Zhuangzi, and other Chinese thinkers.

Ancient Chinese philosophers such as Confucius believed that we shouldn’t be looking for our essential self because there exists no true self to begin with. Human beings are messy, capricious, and constantly changing through our worldly experiences. But if this is the case, how can students ever decide on a career to pursue? The answer comes from another Chinese philosopher, Mencius.

Mencius, a follower of Confucius and his beliefs, saw the world as chaotic and unstable. Hard work can but won’t necessarily lead to success, just like how bad deeds may or may not be punished. As a result, Mencius advocated thinking in terms of setting trajectories in motion. Concrete plans don’t work because they are made for a person that is only based on the person that you are now and not of the person that you will become. Try to be aware of the constantly changing world, open your mind up, and take into account all the complex stuff around you.

If you want to be successful in life, consider these unorthodox lessons of Chinese philosophy. Broaden your mind, and don’t try to discover who you truly are. Let the course of life shape who you are.


About Eric Guo

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