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I want to say "I was looking for happiness in things that held none" (in the context of consumerism), so I'm saying "幸せがない物に、幸せを探してたんだ。" Is there a better, more natural sounding way to say this?

  • Can you give a little more additional context, such as whether you're speaking to people in general, to a friend, or is this meant to be a sort of random poetic phrase (like motivational messages and the like)? – psosuna Oct 12 '17 at 0:18
  • yes, I am adding this as a caption to an artwork, so I guess I'm looking for a more poetic route – Alexandra Blanco Oct 12 '17 at 5:56
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"I was looking for happiness in things that held none" (in the context of consumerism).

If you want to place the phrase after you realized that the era ended when "I was looking for happiness in things that held everything I wanted", the interpretation for the phrase would be simply 物の中に幸せはなかった or 幸せはモノの中には無かった.

Though I cannot give an exact answer to the question of the questioner, I will introduce some phrases consepturally similar to the given phrase as follows.

(1) 知足{ちそく}; 足{た}るを知{し}る; 足{た}るを知{し}る者{もの}は富{と}む
This is a well-known maxim made by Laozi 老子{ろうし} who was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. This means that human desires have no limit. However, those who can be satisfied within their means without becoming greedy are rich in spirit.

It is interpreted in English like:

  • Content is the philosopher's stone, that turns all it touches into gold.
  • Content is a kingdom.

(2) 武士{ぶし}は食{く}わねど高楊枝{たかようじ}

This is a Japanese proverb.
This means that even if a samurai is poor and can not eat, he uses a toothpick as if he has eaten. It refers to samurai's poverty and also expresses their attitude of the pride being contented with living in honest poverty. It also has a nuance making fun of their pretended endurance for sake of the samurai's pride.

It is interpreted in English like:

  • A samurai glories in honorable poverty.
  • A samurai pretends he has eaten well when he has no food.

(3) 清貧{せいひん}に幸{しあわ}せ見{み}つけたり
This is made by me, which means "I found happiness lies in honorable poverty."

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