I smile whenever anyone uses the word “secret” in seeking advice. The problem with the concept of happiness is that the word itself can mean many different things depending on one’s perspective. I found this article informative and thought provoking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness
Personally I don’t believe total happiness can ever be achieved, as it is part of the human condition to desire more than what one has. In Western society desire is actually promoted and inculcated for social, economic and political ends. The phrase “the pursuit of happiness” reflects this in that it describes motivation or incentive to strive for more, continually. As long as there is incessant striving and yearning, happiness will always be elusive and ultimately unattainable.
However, satisfaction is another matter. I believe that satisfaction is attainable. Satisfaction or contentment is based upon internal expectations. Some people can be satisfied with very little in life, and it varies depending on the individual.
Particularly intriguing is Sonja Lyubomirsky’s observation that 50% of one’s capacity for happiness may be genetically determined. It’s an interesting book to explore: http://thehowofhappiness.com/
For me happiness = success in inner- and outer health, inner- and outer wealth and inner- and outer relationships.
I am still trying to figure this out after almost 45 years of living. I definitely think you need a certain amount of “wealth” or material comfort, but this alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness. I really like Red Dog’s comments above-I don’t think total happiness can ever be achieved as part of the human condition. I think happiness means different things to different people. I’m looking to reviewing others’ posts on this topic.
For me, happiness is being truly and totally connected to myself. And then I feel love for everyone and everything and no other desire. I think enlightened people feel like that all the time. I have a looooong way to go!