The Happiness of Confucius and Yan Hui

This term means the happiness and contentment of Confucius(551-479 BC) and Yan Hui(a disciple of Confucius, 521-481 BC). The happiness of Confucius and Yan Hui is a mental outlook admired and advocated by Confucian scholars, especially by Song and Ming Neo-Confucianists. Most people do not want to put up with poverty, but poor material conditions could not keep Confucius and Yan Hui from maintaining a happy state of mind. The expression “Happiness of Confucius and Yan Hui” embodies an inner joy and happiness obtained from the transcending of material desires and from the profound understanding and quest for principles of heaven and ethical principles.


Confucius said: “If I have coarse grain to eat, cold water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow, there is joy to be found in these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteous means are like floating clouds to me.”


Confucius said: “Virtuous indeed is Yan Hui! He has simple meals, just drinks cold water, and lives in a humble lane. While others would find such living unbearable, Yan Hui remains cheerful. What a virtuous man!”