The Greater Risk

The Greater Risk 1

The Greater Risk 2

The Greater Risk 3

The Greater Risk 4

The Greater Risk 5

Sometimes, the greater risk is not taking one at all.

开心 – Happy

There are many words for happiness in Chinese, but 开心, literally having an open heart, is the best visual. When you are happy, your heart is open to new experiences and you welcome people in. Similarly, you open up and share more of your thoughts and experiences with others. Whichever way the exchange goes, happiness opens us up and brings us closer together.

Kai Xin - Happy Chinese Comic


“There’s a snow day today, all the kids are very 开心!”

“She looks more 开心 than usual, did something good happen?”

“Come home more often, we’re always 开心 to see you”


What is the line between excuses and limitations? It’s hard to say. It’s unrealistic to think that anyone can do anything, anytime – but so often we shut ourselves down with reminders of what we are not, without even giving it a shot.

By nature, there are certain things we’re good at, and certain things we’re not. But just because we’re not good at them doesn’t mean that they’re impossible. Venture out and push your limits, who knows what you might find?

Limitations Part 1Limitations Part 2Limitations Part 3Limitations Part 4Limitations Part 5Limitations Part 6

必 – Must

必 is a powerful word that consists of the character for heart, 心, with a stroke going through it. Literally “cross my heart (hope to die, stick a needle in my eye).”

When you MUST do something, it’s as if your heart is being held captive. Until you take action, you’re preoccupied and unable to proceed any further. This is the image that I visualize every time I write 必.

Bi - Must


not afraid of ten thousand, only afraid of one in ten thousand

Building on the meaning of 万一: If you’re prepared, you can tackle an obstacle any number of times without breaking a sweat. However, if you’re not expecting it, the same obstacle may just topple you to your feet.

Bu Pa Yi Wan Jiu Pa Wan Yi - Not afraid of ten thousand

万一 – In case

Wan Yi - In Case

When something may only happen one out of ten thousand times, it’s fairly unlikely. However, just in case you do end up with the scream emoji instead of what you expected, it’s best to have a backup plan!

Example usage:

“This is a great plan to rob the bank and all, but what do we do 万一 the police come?”

“万一 I get hit by a car on the way to work, my will specifies that everything goes to my cat.”

“万一 the groom doesn’t come, we still get to have cake, right?”

万 – Ten thousand

In Chinese, large numbers are counted in ten thousands (10,000 = 万 wàn, 100,000,000 = 亿 yì) instead of thousands (1,000 = thousand, 1,000,000 = million, 1,000,000,000 = billion). This means that converting numbers is an exercise in counting zeros, and if you’re not careful, you may be off by a couple of orders of magnitude!


There’s a classic story about the word 万: Back in ancient China, there was once a pauper who struck it big and became wealthy. He himself could not read, but he wanted his son to be literate, so he hired a teacher for him. The teacher started with numbers:

One stroke is one: 一

Two strokes is two: 二

Three strokes is three: 三

‘This is easy,’ thought the son, so he told his father that he had learned how to write, and the teacher was not invited back again.

Some time later, a friend of the father’s, whose surname was 万, came to town to visit. The father thought it would be an excellent opportunity for his son to show off his writing with a welcoming poster for his friend, so he asked his son to make a poster with the word 万.

The son sat down to write, and was still hard at work a few hours later. Curious as to how a single word could take so long, the father went to check on his son.

To the father’s surprise, the son had filled up multiple sheets of paper with single strokes. The son turned and wailed to his father, “I’ve only managed to write 300 strokes! Why does your friend have to have the surname 万??”

Wan - Thousand

Fun(ish?) fact: I timed myself to see how many strokes I could write in 1 minute, and ended up with 141. At that constant speed, it would only take 1 hour and 11 minutes to write a full 万 of strokes. So even though the son was completely wrong, it still would have been a doable task (and he was rather slow at it, really).