I then read the book explaining them better, here’s a TL;DR:
- We can and should try to improve ourselves (Confucius, Xunzi)
- Aim to improve every aspect of yourself equally and at the same time (5 Virtues)
- Behaving “as if” something is real is a good way to practice change (Confucius)
- There is no single everlasting correct ethical way — hence we must constantly try to be better (Mencius)
- Being flexible and calm is often the best way (Laozi)
- To try to be better, start with the small things (Confucius, Mencius)
- Staying energised through small habits: posture, deep breathing (managing Qi)
- Eastern philosophy was born from bureaucratic societies not natural traditional ones and hence is still relatable
The way we think we live is not how we really live!
Chinese philosophy pushes hard against ‘hypothetical’ dilemmas (the train dilemma above), saying we can’t know how we will react because we change so often.
… you are not and should not think of yourself as a single, unified being.
Everyone has potential to be anything, depending on the circumstance.
We are malleable
We often label ourselves, or state we have a true self, or shout that we are not X (ie. creative). Confucius believes this is dangerous as it locks us in to one way of being, that we will struggle to change.