What does happiness mean to you??? Do you feel happy right now??? How about yesterday??? You think you'd be happy tomorrow?? Let's look at some take on happiness...
The thing about happiness is it is so subjective... it depends on how you look upon life and things. Some people say that money can't buy happiness. Well, that is only true to a limited extent. If materialism does somehow give you a satisfaction inside and contributes to your self esteem (how ever well you experience it), it is an indication that you're happy enough for that particular moment in your life. For me, it is exactly the same as another person who seek happiness by growing plants at their backyard or watching their children mature to be a better person. Having said that, note that human are entirely different from one another and what you do could also affect the happiness of others. For example; telling people to do only what you like and prefer might result in a conflict in your relationship. A dictatorship that dictates one right way to do things also results in unhappiness to some, if not to many.
You ask what makes us different in our approach to happiness?? Your perception towards happiness relies on your gene factors, some people are just born glum as others are born cheerful enough to laugh at their own misery. That applies to about 30-50% on your take towards happiness. The other element that effects your happiness is your concerns and view of life... The choices you make in how you wish to perceive life is particularly important in influencing the happiness degree in your life. This feature could be enhanced and is entirely within your control. This is what exactly being taught in the Happiness Institutes around the world and it is becoming increasingly crucial to attain. This is especially due to the fact that in the current modern world that we're living in, there isn't really room for self-realisation if we're not exposed to it in a wider scale. We need to be educated about happiness and the way to achieve it, even if it means going through a specific course about it.
Another thing about happiness is that if you try too hard to make yourself happy, there is a clear chance that you won't feel happy at all. Now, try to look back at some of the happiest moments of your life... How many percent of it was spontaneous?? Nearly 75%?? Right... The philosophers of the hedonistic school of thought (mind you, stop associating hedonism with absolute ignorance on spirituality) implies that human feel the ultimate bliss when you pause for a second and try to reflect whether you've been happy doing the things you've been doing without planning the exact locus of happiness that you were supposed to feel.
That's happiness for you... It's controllable, achievable and retrievable... Try to indulge yourself in things that you love to do and stop presurring yourself (and people around you) to work according to plans all the time... Be optimistic in life, see the brighter side of things and be thankful for all the wonderful things you have in life. Then, maybe you will see that happiness comes in various shades and it does serve as a clear purpose of life... Chalo :)