Dave Pollard points to this article on the pursuit of happiness. I couldn't agree more with the author, John Barlow. John says one ought not to pursue 'happiness' but realize that happiness comes free with (primarily?) four acts. Well, one can always argue that what it means is that we should nevertheless pursue something or the other! As in the four activities that John advocates in order to experience happiness. But,hey, don't you think all is well as long as we know how to be 'really' happy....by finding and doing what makes us happy. To be honest, I personally believe that in most cases people don't pursue happiness per se, but genuinely go looking for something that they can do to be happy. Or, yes, they get so distracted by the challenges and unpredictability of life that they are unable to experience even the extremely obvious happiness that stares them in the face all the time.
John says "I have found four qualities that I believe naturally enrich the ecology of joy. When I'm capable of sustaining them, they sustain me and continue to do so even in these strange days. They are: a sense of mission, the casual service of others, the solace of little delights, and finally, love for its own sake". In his article, when he elaborates upon the sense of mission, he goes on to say how being creative (in the pursuit of a mission) can make one experience great joy. (Yeah!)
It is the sense of mission that all of us need to have or find. It is the creative outlet that we all need to discover. Casual service for others as John explains it should be a lot easier than we think. Coming to the little delights of life, they are extremely easy to spot for some and pathetically unobservable for others. I have no clue how anyone can be taught to appreciate the scurrying of the squirrel, the forlorn look in the eyes of a pup, the mirth of a child, the flight of a flock of casual birds, the orange sunset on a beach, the sound of a flute and so on. I suspect it has to be there...within you....to be able to find the awesomeness of such seemingly mundane things. And then, we have finding joy through love. I guess it is easy to fall in love but the difficulty is rather in sustaining it! And that's because love is rarely unconditional. And even if you expect nothing in particular from others, the complexity of handling love increases as we get into situations involving misconceptions, lack of transparency, deceit, selfishness and what not. So, is it a blind obsession of sorts for mankind that presents itself as a solution? Duh! Maybe! More understandably, it may not necessarily be in ignoring such problems that you get joy, but in being able to accept and get over them (forget and forgive) for your own sake. So, let's listen to the story of Jack... :-)
Jack had found his mission in life
For it filled him with immense passion and purpose
And there was no sense of strife
It made him stretch and learn
And made him believe he was a significant part of this wonderful world
It made him jump out of the bed every morning
He loved helping others whenever he could
At work and outside of it
He enjoyed nature, music, children and art
He had a family and friends he loved from the bottom of his heart
He knew how to give. He also knew to forgive and forget.
Jack was, truly, a happy man...!
So, the answer, I presume may lie in these - large and little - happy pursuits rather than the pursuit of happiness for its own sake.
PS: Attachment to God and detachment from everything mortal and temporary - worldly - is seen as another happy pursuit in the Indian context. And this is generally what most Indian housewives (of the previous generation) want to engage themselves in, to get away from the so-called pangs of life.