Fortune Cookies and Life Philosophy

Believe it or not there is actually a “National Fortune Cookie Day.” While it’s not the most important day of the year, it is one of those “holidays” that can make you start thinking. My curiosity led me to finding out that specifics of the origin of the modern fortune cookies is not clear. There is an ongoing dispute about who adapted the Japanese predecessor into the Chinese fortune cookie as we know it. One can say that their origin is vague and uncertain like many of the “fortunes” they provide.

Open fortune cookie showing fortune next to chopsticks. Copyright Duard Headley 2022

Like these fortunes, personal philosophies can be too general, vague or simplistic. Overly general personal philosophies are difficult to use for any practical purpose in your life. The one-liners would seem to work better as a caption for a photo meme or printed for a fortune cookie with lucky numbers rather than guidance for one’s life.

There are also philosophies on life that are essentially a list of popular idioms or aphorisms. These are effectively a set of clichés like “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, “To give less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”, and “Good things come to those who wait.” While these sayings can be useful, they amount to as much of a personal philosophy as a pile of fortune cookies. 

There certainly is nothing wrong with drawing upon existing knowledge and making it part of your personal philosophy if it speaks to you. We all necessarily draw upon the knowledge of others. None-the-less, effective personal philosophies are based upon you and your unique understanding of yourself, life and our world.

Some popular concepts of life philosophies also are less than optimal. These approaches include prescriptions for developing a personal philosophy through answering 3-5 questions in an afternoon. They lead to boiling your entire perspective on the world and life down to a single sentence. Doing so might be a good way to create a personal motto, but not a personal philosophy that has real value.

Enjoy celebrating this fun national day with food from your favorite Chinese restaurant. After you crack open your fortune cookie, consider exploring the origins of your life philosophy at Though it will take some time and effort, knowing yours will bring lasting fortune and fulfillment.

Share this Article On


More Articles