Proverb on keeping a normal heart

Here is a proverb my friend provided on keeping a normal heart. She says this is something her mom always says to her, whenever she’s upset over something, to remind her to have a normal heart.


The followings are Original script, Phonetic script, Transliteration, and Full translation in order.

塞          翁          失      马,          焉          知     非     福。

Sai       weng      shi     ma,           yan         zhi     fei    fu.

Sai       man      lost     horse,      how     know    not    blessing.

Even though Mr. Sai lost his horse, it might actually be a blessing for him.



This proverb is referencing a story of Mr. Sai:

One day, Mr. Sai’s horse ran away. Since he was not particularly wealthy, the horse was indeed a big loss. However, Mr. Sai laughed and said, “How do you know, it might actually be a good thing!”

Months later, the horse came back, along with a pony. It seemed like while Mr. Sai’s horse was gone, she gave birth to the pony. Everyone came and say congrats to Mr. Sai, but Mr. Sai said, “How do you know it’s not a bad thing?”

Days later, Mr. Sai’s little boy tried to ride the pony and failed, broke his leg and became lame. Everyone felt sorry for Mr. Sai, but once again he said, “How do you know it’s not a bad thing?”

Years had passed and the war began. The Emperor ordered each household should send a man to the war, but since Mr. Sai was extremely old and his son couldn’t even walk properly, they were excluded from the draught.


It’s interesting that many of the proverbs in China are actually referencing a story (historically true or not) that supposedly everyone should know. Hidden in the proverbs, it’s the culture that’s being past down.