Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism are three main classic Chinese philosophy schools, which all deal with the question of how one should live. In this paper we first review these ancient recommendations and next consider whether they promise a happy life in present day society. Recommended behaviours found in the ancient texts are compared with conditions for happiness as observed in present day empirical investigations. Classic Confucianism appears to offer the most apt advice for finding happiness in present day society, in particular because it recommends that one should be involved in real life. Classic Taoist advice is second best, its strong point is that it advises us against too much social conformism and bookishness. The advice given by classic Buddhists is better not followed in modern society.

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Journal of Happiness Studies
Department of Sociology

Veenhoven, R., & Guoqing, Z. (2009). Ancient Chinese Philosophical Advice: Can it help us find happiness today?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 425–443. Retrieved from