There is so much about the notion of "happiness" in our culture that is filled with individual narcissism.
And yet... and yet, there is another type of happiness, something that is much more rooted in the bliss of contentment.
In being content with where one is in the cosmos, and what, how, with whom, one is spending this one lifetime.
That "happiness" is connected to what the old Muslim sages used to call Sa'adat (Sa'ada), meaning both salvation and happiness.
It's that happiness that requires a "Kimiya", an alchemy: there is something in us that must be transformed to experience that salvation, that happiness, that joy, that bliss, here and now.
No, honey, you are not just fine exactly as you are.
The path takes work, sacrifice, discipline, community, all those "boring" yet necessary things.
No, you can't get fit by watching TV, or taking the magic $ 19.99 item ("but if you call now....") from TV.
and No, you can't get spiritually illuminated by taking the whatever color pill as in the otherwise awesome Matrix film. Sorry Keanu.
The great Muslim scholar, Ghazali (d. 1111), wrote a whole treatise called Kimiya-ye Sa'adat in persian. Its title means "Alchemy of happiness", and also "salvation of bliss." Part of the notion is that there is something in us that can be transformed from the base to the lowly, from the "leaden" to the "golden" to bring about that salvation and bliss here and now.
In our modern science books, alchemy is often talked about either as a pseudo-science (at worse) or as the pre-cursor to modern chemistry (at best). It was neither. It was ultimately an awareness that all of the universe, including us, is ultimately interconnected, and that all of us--including us--needs to be transformed towards the blissful, the golden, the lovely.
May we all experience that alchemy of happiness.
John Lennon [image here] was an adamant secular humanist, yet there is something about his quote that touches on that same notion.
Image of Neo is from IMDB.