SinoSaying: Start a Long Journey By Taking the First Step

by Courtney Gould Miller
March 21, 2014

{Photo of Beijing’s Tsinghua University Campus}

One aspect I’m drawn to when learning about a culture are local sayings — little bits of wisdom passed down from generations that tell you so much about how people think, act, and live. Chinese is particularly rich with proverbs, from ancient Confucious sayings all the way through Cultural Revolution propoganda. These sayings reveal not only China’s history, but the Chinese mindset that has remained remarkably consistent throughout radical change.  I also love that Chinese adages often rhyme or have a poetic quality to them.

Chinaful is starting a new series, “SinoSayings,” to share these Chinese proverbs and see what we can all glean about Chinese culture, and what we can take away for our own lives.  We’d love for readers to write in with their favorites and share what they takeaway from the lesson.  If you have a SinoSaying to share, email us at [email protected], tweet us @cgouldmiller, or post on Chinaful’s Facebook page.

My SinoSaying is: 千里之行,始于足下(qiān lǐ zhī xíng, shǐ yú zú xià).

Translated, this means: “A thousand-li journey is started by taking the first step.”  A “li” is a Chinese measurement, about one-third of a mile.

I first learned this saying: When studying Chinese in Beijing. My Chinese teacher would tell me that learning Chinese was a long, tedious process, but that it’s a journey.  You will improve if you just keep working, keep moving forward.

This SinoSaying reminds me that: Goals that are worth achieving often take time and require hard work. The path may not always be perfect, but it always starts with the first step. And it’s better to start now than never.


thanks for this im trying to lose some wgihet for my new years resolution, im starting a diet and exercise plan tomorrow cause i wanna look good for the summer. thanks this really helped.

May 25, 2014 | Riku
+ Add a comment

Top of post