It seems pretty simple, really.
Happiness is associated with a pleasant life, meaning more pleasant than unpleasant experiences, an engaged life – meaning absorbed in and validated by one’s activities, and a meaningful life – a life with purpose.
One of the things I always notice when Americans return from travel to so-called Third World countries, especially in Africa, is their puzzlement over how happy the people there are, despite not having most of the things we think we need.
Their happiness is intrinsic, not based on possessions and wealth, and that is so antithetical to every image we see in America that it disorients us.
In America, we are constantly bombarded with ads and stories telling us how badly we need new things, better things, more expensive things.
We might be well served to think of those who have so much less than we think we need, and actually seem happier for it.