Happiness is an emotion. So is sadness, love, hate, curiosity, revulsion, excitement, jealousy, contentment, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt and anger. All emotions have causes, causes which can be understood and controlled. The emotion of happiness is not caused simply by entertaining your whims. (Whims are an obstacle to happiness.) Happiness is not merely a life lived by accumulating moments of pleasure. On the contrary, happiness is a long lasting enduring enjoyment of life, it is being in love with living. It is your reward for achieving a good character and personal rational values in life. Some important values are a productive career, romance, friendship and hobbies. Achieving these values requires rationality and takes effort and skill. Two types of skills you can use are thinking skills and valuing skills. Once you learn to have confidence in your own mind and once you discover the virtues that make it possible for you to achieve your values and that make your life worth living, then you will experience the result – an earned pride and a genuine self-esteem. And of course happiness.
Billy won the lottery. A cool $25 million! He appeared to be a good man with a good character. Of the many types of people who might have won, his friends were happy it was Billy. But two years later he was arrested for drunk driving, resisting arrest, soliciting a prostitute, and having drugs in his car. The arrests continued over the next few years. The excitement of winning did not grow into a lifelong happiness.
Dora, an engineer, never does volunteer work. If she gives to charity, she does so very selectively and sparingly. Acquaintances envious of her success call her selfish. Yet Dora is very happy.