Mark Kingwell, a Canadian professor, wrote the following a few years ago --
I once wrote a book about happiness. . . . [A]t the end of the day, I kept coming back to old, old insights about happiness and world affairs, ones missed by too many psych studies and the people they poll.
Happiness, said Aristotle, is not a feeling or an experience, it is an ethical state of being. It means judging that you have made the right choices and done the right things, and enjoyed a measure of luck along the way. Where and when you are born, how the play of daily contingency affects you, do not determine your happiness, but they do constrain it. And so it often seems as though the choices of everyday life, cosmically small though they are, matter far more than events in distant capitals and war zones.
But here is the key point. You must live your entire life with honour and commitment. You must try to build something larger than yourself: a community of citizens, a community of reason, a just and peaceful world. You may be defeated, because violence, arrogance and unreason are powerful forces in history. But that does not diminish your responsibility.
(Note: The above paragraphs came from a column by Professor Kingwell in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper. The original column is, alas, no longer available at the NP's website. The book to which Kingwell refers is apparently In Pursuit of Happiness, now out of print, but still availabe at Amazon.com and, I trust, elsewhere on the Web.)