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Life Lessons from the Bamboo

Remember: What looks weak is strong
The body of bamboo is not large compared to other trees in the forest. But these plants endure cold winters and extremely hot summers and are sometimes the only “trees” left standing in the aftermath of a storm. We must be careful not to underestimate others or ourselves based only on old notions of what is weak and what is strong.

Bend but don’t break.
One of the most impressive things about the bamboo is how it sways with the breeze. The foundation of the bamboo is solid, yet it moves and sways harmoniously with the wind, never fighting against it. In time, even the strongest wind tires itself out, but the bamboo remains standing tall and still.

Find wisdom in emptiness
It is said that in order to learn, the first step is to empty ourselves of our preconceived notions. The hollow insides of the bamboo remind us that we are often too full of ourselves and our own conclusions; we have no space for anything else. In order to receive knowledge and wisdom from both nature and people, we have to be open to that which is new and different. When you empty your mind of your prejudices and pride and fear, you become open to the possibilities.

Smile, laugh, & play
The Chinese character for smile or laugh has two small symbols for bamboo ( or take) at the top of it. It is said that bamboo has a strong association with laughter, perhaps because of the sound that the bamboo leaves make on a windy day. We have known intuitively for generations of the importance of smiling, laughing, and playing, now modern science shows evidence that these elements play a real and important role in one’s mental and physical health as well.

Commit yourself to growth & renewal
Bamboo are among the fastest-growing plants in the world. It does not matter who you are — or where you are — today, you have amazing potential for growth. You may at times become discouraged and feel that you are not improving at all. Do not be discouraged by what you perceive as your lack of growth or improvement. If you have not given up, then you are growing, you just may not see it until much later. How fast or how slow is not our main concern, only that we’re moving forward.