Happiness has got to be the buzzword of the last 10-20 years. There's a growing army of "positive" psychologists researching happiness in labs and via surveys (sounds childish to me); the self-help movement only recently exploded with happiness manuals; and magazines and talk shows have become saturated with tips, advice, cures, and whatnot to help you feel better and think better.
I don't believe in it. Any of it. Even worse, I think it's destructive.
I believe people can achieve contentment. In fact, I think they should do everything in their power to achieve it. But I think people enter the early stages of contentment when they stop searching for things. Part of this even means giving up the search for things like happiness, which can become an elusive obsession.
It all comes back to the thought that something is missing from us, or something is missing in our lives, that we need to achieve, whether it be spirituality, money, family, security. Let's call it existential inferiority. These things aren't bad; in fact, they're wonderful. It's wonderful to have the ability to experience life in a rich, deep way. But it won't connect to you if you're doing it for a reason: to fill the void in your life or self-concept. When you're being driven by inferiority, you're always miserable on some deep, subtle, significant way.
There's nothing you can do to help yourself, because anything you do is just another attempt to escape your perceived inferiority. The good news is, there's nothing you need to do. There's nothing you need to think or feel or control or change. Or not think, not feel, not control, not change. When the time is right, when circumstances align, you'll forget to think something's missing--the partner, the prestige, the happiness--and you'll just be there, quiet, watching, content.