What is happiness?
  • Happiness is what all humans are seeking. It is the ultimate goal in life.
  • Happiness is a state of mind, not some destination - this is why most of us achieve "happiness" only to wonder why it is gone in the next day or two.
  • Happiness and Excitement are synonymous - In order to be happy, you must figure out what excites you!
  • Happiness is not having things, it is doing things - Most often these things need to involve conquering a challenge, or achieving a goal of some kind. 
People are strongly, perhaps primarily, perhaps even single-mindedly, motivated to feel happy. - Dan Gilbert (Author of Stumbling On Happiness)

What Excites You?
From the definitions above, happiness is a temporary state of mind that is achieved when we do something exciting that involves a challenge. So the question you need to ask yourself is - "What would excite me?" When we can truly answer this question, we can figure out how to be happy. 

But what excites you today, may not be what excites you tomorrow. In a way, happiness is like a drug that you can build up a tolerance for, that keeps you on a treadmill. That's why the life you design for yourself must include evermore exciting goals along the way. This is when you truly discover that happiness is a state of mind that must always be nurtured. And the really cool part is that your happiness is determined by you, not someone else! You are in charge.

Now The Tough Part
This all seems pretty easy, I just go do some exciting stuff that feels a little challenging and then I will be happy for the rest of my life. If happiness really is the ultimate goal of mankind, and excitement is at its root (and required), then maybe it would be wise to spend some time (maybe a long time) figuring out what would excite you. After all, if you are going to design your entire life path based on your answer to this question, it might be prudent to make sure that you have the right answer first.

We have spent much of our lives accepting what we were led to believe would bring us happiness. That there is a set path that society has laid out for us, and if we follow it properly we will live a happy and successful life. This programming was ingrained in us from the beginning and has been reinforced our entire life. And by the time we realize that we have been living a lie we might feel like it is too late to change so we might as well just stay the course.

But I want to tell you that it isn't too late. It is never too late, unless you agree that it is.

And while you didn't choose this path you are on, and you may not have placed the barriers in your way, ultimately it is you and only you that can remove those barriers and chart a new course. And the sooner you can accept this, the sooner you can get designing your new life path and start experiencing the success and happiness that you desire. To do less would just make you a victim, a victim of circumstance, and will only get what is given to you.

Where to Start
The first step we need to take is taking a look in the mirror and asking ourselves some tough questions like - "How did I get here?" and "How am I responsible for this?" and really investing some time to find the answers.

Ultimately, by discovering the answers to these questions, you may realize that you are ready to disassociate yourself from the programming of your childhood and then start to develop a new path of your own design. A path filled with happy experiences that lead, ultimately, to a life of contentment.

But be prepared, this can be a long and sometimes painful process. While you may not have chosen this path initially, you are the one that has chosen to continue on it. No one wants to believe that their unhappiness is self-inflicted, but once you are able to accept this, it puts you in charge and allows you the freedom to move forward. 

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
When happiness is our goal (and it is), applying the rules for success towards this goal seems to make perfect sense. That is why success and happiness are nearly synonymous. You cannot feel successful if it doesn't bring you a true feeling of happiness.

Are We There Yet?
Or, how do I know when I am happy?
Remember, happiness is not a destination but a fleeting state of mind. A great sign that you are on the right path is when you are in harmony with your:
  • Past - No regrets and no guilt (you must let these things go).
  • Present - Being in the moment (doing what you want, when you want, and with whom you want).
  • Future - No worry (having a purpose or major goal to be working toward).
Some Pitfalls to be aware of:
  • The feeling of happiness can be synthetic (artificial) - a very powerful survival ability that the mind has.
  • Whatever you do to achieve that feeling of happiness, remember that it will fade and will need to be replaced by a new stimulus.
More Info:

  • Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
  • The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris