Lao Tzu’s Eye-Opening Lessons Men Discover Too Late

Lao Tzu’s Eye-Opening Lessons Men Discover Too Late

Lao Tzu’s teachings guide truth-seekers, yet fundamental tenets around simplicity, non-control, and stillness often elude hurried men lost in ambitions and separation myths. Only with time do seeds of Lao Tzu’s wisdom take root, as currents of life erode fallacies of complexity. Men who wake up to the consciousness Lao Tzu pointed realize much turmoil traces to youthful impulses their ancient mentor cautioned against.

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

Lao Tzu taught that living simply, free from ego-driven desires and complexity, represented the height of wisdom and character development. Yet many ambitious young men dismiss or overlook this lesson in youth, assuming sophistication stems from the accumulation of status, wealth, knowledge, or other external markers. It often takes later life stages before the wisdom of simplicity clicks for men – that less truly is more when it comes to cultivating fulfillment.

In middle age, as the recognition sets in that one can spend decades chasing illusory dreams, Lao Tzu’s teachings resonate on quieting the ego and avoiding unnecessary complication.

Flow Like Water

Lao Tzu famously tells us to “be like water,” fluid and adaptable, as rigid structures crack under pressure while flowing ones endure. Yet headstrong young men tend to resist and react instinctively against external forces, insisting on the projection of strength. They adhere to rigid plans, unable or unwilling to recalibrate based on circumstances.

But as American mythologist Joseph Campbell illuminated, “If you can see your path in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your path you make with every step you take.” Taoism recognizes the unpredictability of life’s river currents, guiding us to flow resiliently around obstacles.

The Futility of Forced Control

Young men tend to masculine posturing of strength and control attempts. But whether in toxic relationships, friendships, workplaces, or political arenas, Lao Tzu warns that heavy-handed domination backfires. Attempting to control people and situations overly breeds resentment and disorder. His teachings suggest progress emerges more organically by living simply and leading by quiet example.

Yet modern society often conditions men to view influence stemming from projection of ego, prestige, and authority—younger selves seeking stability work to build structures engineering security, striving to manage external variables. But age teaches Lao Tzu’s wisdom – that forcibly controlling the world around you is as futile as grasping water.

The Illusion of Separateness

Lao Tzu posited centuries ago about our interconnectedness – that no man is an island untouched by others’ actions. But youthful individuation breeds detachment illusions. In the early stages of seeking to establish identity within society and being afraid of rejection, many young men withdraw to silos. Buying into separate self-myths that independence comes from not needing others, ages often pass before appreciating Lao Tzu’s truism.

But his teachings slowly seep in that because no one exists in isolation, we can’t thrive detached from communal cooperation and compassion. Lao Tzu’s interdependence teachings marinate after repeated failures trying to journey alone down separator roads or turning colleagues into competitors.

Stillness is the Master of Chaos

Volatility surfaces during youth partly from reactionary external chaos as we try to control uncontrollable forces. Lao Tzu’s teachings suggest that external disorder can dissipate only by mastering internal stillness and calmness. But young men tend to default to restless anxiety or reckless adrenaline chasing without appreciating stillness and wisdom.

However, as family and work pressures weigh, Lao Tzu’s emphasis on stillness resonates with midlife’s midpoint. Finally, recognizing that reactive states multiply rather than resolve chaos, practices like meditation, mindful breathing, or journaling seem newly appealing. As futile youth cycles of acting out against turmoil give way to adult tactics of developing inner tranquility, the chaotic world seems less violent.

Case Study: James’ Journey

James grew up an ambitious and driven young man, eager to make his mark on the world. In his 20s, he poured all his energy into building his career as a financial analyst. He worked long hours, networked aggressively, and always put work before relationships or personal health.

James confused material measures of status and wealth with personal worth. He judged himself and others by titles, salaries, and other external markers, dismissing wisdom around simplicity, adaptability, and relinquishing control as signs of weakness. James rigidly constructed intricate 5-year life plans mapping out his path to career success and wealth acquisition.

By 35, while financially comfortable, James felt frustrated and burnt out. His marriage grew strained under the weight of his work obsession. Though a senior manager, maintaining tight control over his team left him exhausted and despised. Health issues mounted from excess stress and poor self-care habits, provoking a crisis of purpose.

Only then did teachings from Lao Tzu on stillness as the master of chaos resonate. James incorporated meditation, journaling, and mindfulness – realizing external conditions would change little until he quieted turbulent inner drives for control and validation. He further grasped the futility of forcing outcomes in team leadership and personal life. James accepted that by letting go of trust in natural rhythms like Lao Tzu advised; his life was greatly simplified into a more authentic alignment.

The journey is ongoing, but in reorienting his middle-aged priorities toward presence, James feels reduced pressure to micromanage everything from team dynamics to family relationships to health issues. Personal success looks different by forgoing illusioned independence for interdependence and community but feels far more sustainable. James wished only that Lao Tzu’s teachings had seeped in sooner to spare tumult.

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize uncomplicated living to nurture character growth rather than chasing external markers of sophistication.
  • Cultivate adaptability instead of rigidity to handle unpredictable changes with resilience.
  • Controlling people and situations forcibly often has negative consequences; practice letting go.
  • Recognize the interconnectedness of humanity rather than persisting with illusions of independence.
  • Develop inner stillness through practices like meditation to master external chaos and volatility.


Lao Tzu’s ancient teachings reveal profound insights that often germinate entirely only later in life. Absorbed in youthful ambition, men overlook whispering wisdom to moderate needless complexity and reactive disruption. But the principles endure – simplicity and flexibility beget sturdy character, grasping tight chokes growth, no man thrives detached, calmness tames storms. Perception expands to see time-tested truths buried under holding ego finally. Lao Tzu plants seeds which then awaken dormant intuitions as experience waters understanding. Often discovered too late, his lessons underpin the maturation enabling men to nurture more balanced, fulfilled growth.