Universal (Proverbial) Wisdom About Change

There is so much knowledge available about change that has rooted itself in our language(s). In this article I have gathered a lot of these sayings.

Some have to do with a change of status, or flow.

  • The tide never goes out so far but it always comes in again. (situations
    changes faster than one often imagines)
  • All shall be well, Jack shall have Jill
  • No joy without annoy; after joy comes annoy. Sadness and gladness succeed each other
  • After black clouds, clear weather
  • The mirth of the world dures but a while
  • On a long journey, straw weighs
  • As a bear has no tail, for a lion he will fail
  • Experience is the mother of wisdom

And…with transition…

  • A thief passes for gentleman when stealing has made him rich.
  • Pigs love that lie together

But proverbial wisdom is often full of paradox:

  • Once a thief, always a thief. It is hard to fight against a label /
  • Once a bishop, always a bishop

Time is the constant in change. The universal change paradigm is dominated by the concept of time:

  • Times change and we with them.
  • Other times other manners
  • Change of pasture makes fat calves (change brings life)
  • Fools may invent fashions that wise men will wear (the present fashion is
    always handsome)

Time is related to the concept of Perishable

  • Paul’s will not always stand
  • A young courtier, an old beggar
  • This morning knows not this evening’s happenings
  • Not only ought Fortune to be pictured on a wheel, but every thing else in the world (There is nothing permanent).
  • Laugh before breakfast, you’ll cry before supper.
  • Today me, tomorrow thee
  • The death of the wolves is the safety of the sheep
  • Time will tell
  • Time is a great healer
  • Better late than never / Too late aware

Origin or birth is where resistance with change start. Some things will never change:

  • Like cow, like calf / Young pigs grunt like the old sow
  • Like father, like son
  • If the staff be crooked, the shadow cannot be straight
  • A wild goose never laid a tame egg
  • Blood is thicker than water
  • Born poor, remain poor all your life

Many proverbs have only a slight association with change, but I left them in,

there are many of them:

  • Young men think old men fools, and old men know young men to be so
  • Marry in haste and repent at leisure
  • Boys will be men
  • A young men, an old saint
  • Habit is a second nature
  • Nature draws more than ten oxen
  • An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk and scarlet
  • Soon ripe, soon rotten
  • Patience is bitter but its fruit sweet
  • Trust is the mother of deceit
  • Poverty is the mother of crime
  • Try the ice before you venture on it
  • Short pleasure, long repetence
  • Prosperity discovers vice, adversity virtue
  • A golden key opens every door
  • Fresh fish and new-come guests smell in three days
  • He that measures oil shall anoint his fingers
  • The unrighteous penny corrupts the righteous pound
  • Money talks
  • Sickness comes on horseback, but goes away on foot
  • New lords, new laws
  • An oak is not felled at one stroke

Change is also related to learning:

  • he that lives next door to the cripple, will learn to halt
  • prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them
  • the road to hell is paved with good intentions
  • no flying without wings

… And always comes when you do not expect it. There is also the role of fate

and destiny. It is whatever you believe…

  • nothing is certain but the unforeseen; unlooked for often comes
  • praise a fair day at night
  • the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings
  • As a tree falls, so shall it lie

What about the will to change? And … flexibility

  • better bend than break
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink
  • If the lad go to the well against his will, either the can will break or
    the water will spill

Without action there is no change:

  • No root, no fruit
  • The first step is the hardest
  • Well begun is half done (but: he who begins many things finishes but few)
  • There is a first time for everything
  • It is no use crying over spilt milk
  • He that will conquer must fight
  • Perseverance overcomes all things
  • The last mile is the longest / the sting is in the tail
  • The best of friends must part
  • One of these days is none of these days
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • In for a penny, in for a pound
  • Slow but sure wins the race
  • Everything comes to him who waits
  • You must sow ere you reap
  • To stand still is to move back
  • A good example is the best sermon

Can you go too far with change?

  • A rolling stone gathers no moss / a tree often transplanted bears not much

And at last there is the change agent. We hope it is about improvements, but

this is not always the case:

  • the tender surgeon makes a foul wound

Source by Hans Bool


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