Why is lasting happiness unattainable

Essay Confucius

by Magdalena Graf


If you want lasting happiness, you always have to change


Preliminary remark

People are always looking for something new, they look for new challenges, they are never satisfied with what they have. It is precisely through this that he continues his education, he acquires something new: he changes either himself or his environment. But why all these changes? Does he want to make the world a better place or is he just looking for his own happiness?


Confucius puts forward the thesis that whoever wants to achieve lasting happiness must always change.

I now wonder if it is even possible to have lasting, enduring happiness. For me, happiness is often just a moment, a moment that is very dependent on the situation. I don't know anyone who claims to be happy forever. Sometimes happiness is not even tangible, tangible, it consists of a moment, an indescribable feeling that flows back into your hands as quickly as it came. Man does not manage to grasp this happiness, to grasp it or even to hold onto it.

The older a person gets, the more difficult it becomes for him to achieve this happiness, because needs and requirements grow with age. Happiness is no longer grasped intuitively, it turns into something rational. The adult tries to understand everything, to classify and define everything that surrounds him, and precisely because of this, happiness moves further and further away, into a distance that cannot be reached on a rational level.

And yet the whole life of people is marked by the desire to find happiness and so life turns into an eternal search for something that could be found in childhood without great effort. Only children do not manage to put this state into words, they cannot describe the moment of happiness, they only live it and precisely because of this they manage to gain access to happiness.

Although the general goal is to become happy, only a few manage to do so, all others continue to search for this irrational moment that everyone wants to experience permanently.

Since ancient times, countless people have set out to find their happiness, they go out into the world, get to know it and realize that it is not easier to find it in the big world either.

"Stay a moment, you are so beautiful ..."

Well-known poets also deal with the question of happiness, whether it is possible to achieve it, and if so, for how long. Faust, the universal scholar par excellence, even sells his soul in order to be able to share in this moment of happiness.

All his studies, his findings and scientific measurements, his ratio, failed to give him even a moment of happiness. He doesn't even shrink from making a pact with the devil just for once to enjoy happiness. But this is also denied to him, he dies without having experienced a moment of happiness. Only in the expectation of a moment that might bring him closer to his goal does he utter the “magic words”.

Should Goethe still be right today with his sobering insight? Would people do anything to find seemingly unattainable happiness?

Happiness is sometimes not even far from us, only our intellect, which makes us human, prevents us from grasping it and making it our own. Exactly for this reason, children's faces beaming with happiness and children's eyes are not uncommon, but adults who are beside themselves with happiness are.



An old saying goes that everyone is the maker of their own happiness. Accordingly, it is up to everyone to find their own happiness, everyone is responsible for what they do and also for their life and happiness. Now it is up to you how you want to be happy. Diogenes seemed to have found happiness by being very abstinent in a barrel, Socrates by leading others to knowledge and understanding. So there are many ways to find an individual approach to satisfaction and maybe also to happiness, if you only look for it for a long time, but everyone will seek and perhaps find a different way to achieve this state.


According to Confucius, the prerequisite for lasting happiness is constant individual change. I can only partially agree with him on this point. Is this change always necessary? Or could you perhaps achieve your happiness without consciously changing yourself?


We change daily, are influenced by countless factors that we cannot all name, often do not even notice how we are changing or are being changed by outside influences. Constant change is part of our life, even if we only perceive it unconsciously or subconsciously, it shapes us and makes us what we are. But I don't think that it is through their action alone that access to lasting happiness is made possible.

Those who are constantly changing are shaped into a personality and this certainly makes it easier to cope with life. A diverse character adapts more easily to situations, he finds several ways to solve problems and respond to his environment. His experience is also of great advantage to him in this regard.

Perhaps Confucius is referring to this fact, meaning that a person who has a mature personality and is diverse can be closer to lasting happiness than anyone else.

So is he getting closer to the goal that has been striven for for ages or is he just getting closer to the realization that happiness may not be attainable and certainly not permanent?

Perhaps all those who seem happy are only satisfied that they have realized that happiness is not attainable and therefore satisfied with the fact that they too will never attain that happiness? Can one live happier if one no longer embarks on the eternal search, since one has recognized that it is pointless?

Perhaps the search prevents us from noticing happiness at all, the eternal eye opening and close inspection has made us blind and prevented us from looking happiness in the eye. The consciousness of happiness in particular may not be attainable, which is why we shouldn't go in search of it, but should simply wait to be found by it.

Because those who consider themselves lucky to be happy do not ask about the how and why of their happiness, but rather live this happiness without questioning it, without being in search of it, without being aware of it, as well as Children simply live happiness without asking questions, without wanting to explain their condition and without being aware of how happy they are and how often they will wistfully think back to these moments in the hope of being able to relive them ...