Since ancient Japan, poets have pointed to butterflies as the ideal spirit of life– light, free, and beautiful. And while they fly for a short time under the sun, they have a lot of wisdom to offer about life and nature.

Here are 5 Zen thoughts on life and mindfulness, inspired by these extraordinary beings.

1. They live in the moment.

They float from one thing to the next – attaching themselves to nowhere in particular. In their moments of flight, they are free.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. – Rabindranath Tagore

2. They seek happiness in small things.

Their wings take them around the world – yet they are satisfied with the gift of a single flower.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.  – Nathaniel Hawthorne

3. They see the larger picture.

They know that all things are temporary – and that change and uncertainty are never permanent parts of life.
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.  ­– Richard Bach

4. They are masters of change.

They accept the transformative nature of existence. They embrace discomfort to become something more free and beautiful.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.  – Author Unknown

5. They know how to wait.

By nature, they understand the value of patience and persistence. They understand that true beauty takes its own time to develop.
Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.  – Deborah Chaskin