I was thinking the other day that there is no state of happiness, only a state of absence of unhappiness; In other words, you are happy if you are not unhappy. And then I realized that the overarching reason for unhappiness, besides the direct reasons, is Habit. Think of it: we are more unhappy when we are deprived of, or when we lose, something (or someone) than we are happy (read: not unhappy) when we have it. That's why they tell you you do not value what you have until you lose it. Because you are more unhappy when you lose it than you were happy when you had it. Take money for example: unhappiness without money is greater than happiness with money. Another example: we are much more unhappy when we lose someone we love (breakup for example or death) than we are happy when we have this person. why? Habit.
The only state of happiness I can think of -though very short-lived- is when there is what I would call "intervention" a sudden turn of event that for instance makes a very poor person rich overnight or a dying person heal from illness. But soon after habit sneaks in. So basically what brings unhappiness is developing a habit over a certain possession (people, health, whatever you can think of). So on the long run, what you develop a habit at having will eventually and gradually make you unhappy: it starts as mild (habit of having it eventually kills the thrill), then becomes moderate (fear of losing it), and ultimately, profound (losing it)... Some people like to explain this notion by saying that unhappiness comes from dependency on a certain need, in other words, if you do not develop or get attached to this need, you do not have to suffer when deprived of it, losing it or wanting to have it. Others tend to believe that is rather goals that make us unhappy, the striving for something that exists outside us rather than looking inward for that happiness that lies within... but that's taking it to a totally mystic level. But if it makes you feel good about yourself, don't get too used to it, habit, remember?
That's very Freudian. I know but it wasn't Freud who inspired me.
When we were kids, my sister used to say, mainly to tease me: don't do anything... nothing happens (nothing bad she meant). How I loved to argue and prove her wrong. With that motto in life, I used to say, you cannot be unhappy, true, but you cannot be happy either.. wait, that's the point, so she was right all along, though simple the words she used. Avoiding causes of unhappiness is also Freudian though I doubt she knew about Freud back then.
Freud believed that happiness was not in the plan of creation in the first place, even though that's what humans strive to achieve. But I like this idea better in the words of Woody Allen in Annie Hall: "I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable.” Got the idea?