The Tao Te Ching Way to a No Stress Lifestyle

The Tao Te Ching can help pave the way to a steady path to enlightenment and inner peace. Find out how you can benefit from the Tao Te Ching way of living.

Between pressing deadlines, demanding friends, challenging family members and the daily chores and duties we all have to endure, there really isn’t that much time to launch a campaign to scout out inner peace. After all, when are we expected to fit it in – during our lunch break?

Well, actually, enlightenment might be closer, and easier, than you think. With the help of the Tao Te Ching, we can all feel calmer, less stressed and more content. But what is Tao Te Ching and how does it work?

What is the Tao Te Ching?


Essentially, the Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese Text, written in approximately the 6th century BC. It is said that the author of the text, Lao Tzu, was a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court.

The Tao Te Ching is also referred to as the daodejing and has been incredibly influential as a source of inspiration for religions, such as Taoism, Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism, as well as Chinese poets and artists.

The words ‘Tao Te Ching’ can be translated to mean ‘the way (of) inner strength book’.

How to use the Tao Te Ching

While there is no ‘right way’ to approach the Tao Te Ching, there are a couple of guidelines you can follow if you’re looking to get the most out of its wisdom:

  1. Choose a translation that suits your reading style.
  2. Although the text isn’t intended to be followed as part of a religion, it can be approached in the same way you might review the text of a bible: open-minded, honest and willing.
  3. Linger over the words. Sometimes the meaning might not appear until you’ve mulled over the concept for a while. If you rush through the text too quickly, you might miss out on some enlightenment.
  4. Read in a quiet, calm place.
  5. Each day, choose one lesson of the Tao Te Ching to practice.
  6. Take the text at face value. Not every part of the text will be meaningful for you. Choose to accept the components that have value and ignore those that don’t.

Teachings of the Tao Te Ching

To get you started, we have included some of the teachings of the Tao Te Ching and our own interpretations of these teachings. You can use these points to begin your Tao Te Ching journey and then delve into the entire text yourself.

Teaching #1:

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are.

Compassionate toward yourself,

you reconcile all beings in the world.”

These three concepts; simplicity patience and compassion, aren’t new to the world of self-help and philosophy. But the Tao Te Ching interpretation of these three concepts is what makes this teaching so influential and life changing.

How often do we consider making our actions and thoughts simple? Rarely ever, right. Instead, we overcomplicate our minds with questions of ‘what if’, ‘why’ and ‘I wonder’. We overthink and then, as a result, over act. But if we return to a state of simplicity everything becomes more natural and peaceful.

Next, it’s pretty standard to be patient with our friends and family. Truth be told, we’d probably get a smack in the head if we didn’t. But are you ever patient with your enemies? Or perhaps, like me, you’re less patient because you don’t like someone? This is a far out concept, and one that I’m actually going to try to incorporate into my daily life. Because I believe that when you stop criticizing those you dislike, you may actually reduce your own stress and discontent.

And lastly, when we hear the word ‘compassion’, we normally assume we’re being told to have compassion for the earth and its inhabitants. But the Tao Te Ching is actually telling us to be compassionate with ourselves. We are our own worst critics and can be nastier to ourselves than even our worst enemies. But by practicing compassion and understanding that we are only human, you can reduce your anxiety, worry and depression.

Teaching #2:

beautiful girl in a magical place

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

Modern life is a cacophony of competition and comparisons. We don’t value our own worth unless we know how it compares to others. And we only feel good if we know we are better or have accomplished more than others.

But how detrimental is this attitude? When you’re worrying about what others think of you, how your life compares to others and how you can be better than someone else, you’re wasting a precious commodity: time.

And it’s important to realize too that the only person you’re hurting with this type of thinking is you. But when you avoid competition and comparisons, you can be free to be you. You can set your own benchmarks, goals and targets. And your happiness will be completely reliant on internal sources, not external.

 Teaching #3:

“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”

This is actually one of my favorite teachings from the Tao Te Ching because it can be interpreted in so many different ways depending on your circumstances and who you are.

For me, this teaching means allowing my mind to be calm. I spend the majority of my time racing from one project to another and flicking from thought to thought. Rarely, if ever, is my mind still.

However, if I allowed my mind to settle and calm, I would have a greater chance of reaching inner peace and enlightenment. My stress levels would decrease and I would feel more in control of my life.

You can reach this state of calm by regularly meditating. I’d recommend around ten minutes a day for the first month, and then slowly increasing it to 20 minutes per day.

Teaching #4:

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Do you ever feel trapped in a state of indecisiveness? If so, then this teaching is for you. When we’re thinking, pondering, mulling and contemplating who we are, what our goal is and what our life’s journey is meant to be, we can sometimes miss the things that are right in front of us.

For me, this teaching is all about turning down your ‘try hard’ dial. Just stop trying so hard to figure everything out. If you are still and quiet, everything will come to you. Underneath everything, you know who you are. You are your own person and you know exactly what you want.

Allow your heart, and your soul, to guide you. It sounds cliché, but it actually works.

Teaching #5:

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Have you ever put off a project or adventure because it didn’t feel like the right time? Or perhaps because you thought you weren’t ready for it yet? If you have, you’re not alone. Sometimes the enormity of a project or goal can seem so massive that we shy away from it.

But what this teaching is trying to help us understand is that you do not approach the project or goal in its entirety. Instead, you take tiny steps towards the end goal. You don’t stuff the cupcake into your mouth in one go, you take a bite. Just one. And this applies to our life too.

If you want something, you can have it. Don’t be scared to do something because it seems too hard, too big or too much. Just take it one small step at a time.

Other teachings:

woman walking on beach sunset

While I won’t interpret these ones for you (why don’t you give it a shot yourself?) I will include a few other teachings that I think will help you on your path to a no stress lifestyle.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

“The further one goes, the less one knows.”

If you’re interested in reading the full Tao Te Ching, you can download the translation here.

Final note:

The essence of the Tao Te Ching way to a no stress lifestyle is to be true to yourself, simplify your life and to remove judgment. How you interpret its individual teachings is up to you and while each person will find different meaning, but the important thing is to try.

Keep trying, keep pushing and continue striving because the end result, a happy, peaceful and content life, is well worth the effort.

About the author

Cassandra Lane

While Cassandra readily admits to being a rampant cupcake aficionada (how could she not be with an almost-brother-in-law that owns not one, but three cupcake shops?) she happily works off her lust of all things sweet and sugary by slogging it out in the gym and outdoors.


Click here to post a comment

  • Hi Cassandra!

    I love this. Thanks for bringing the Tao into the limelight. It SO deserves it! It is a great little book and this is some good advice on how to use it. I will definitely bookmark it and mention it in my blog!