Freud was wrong about a lot of things, I think, but he was right about a lot more. Plus, like Gardner, he put his knowledge down in print first, so he gets credit, like it or not. Freud thought that pleasure was merely the absence of pain. It follows that happiness is the absence of unhappiness. I think that is kind of lame, and Jesus and Zarathustra both agree with me when I say that it is far better to be upset than merely content. Happiness is best, but at least with the struggle to move from unhappiness to happiness lets me know I am alive. I need passion in Life, and I do not think I am the only one.
However, I do know that if I am not unhappy, I can be passionate about whatever I want to at the time, thus giving me the two ingredients I need for bliss: Passion and absence of Pain, because I believe that the secret to happiness is merely by living in the Now. But one cannot live in the Now when one is feeling guilty or bitter about yesterday, or apprehensive about tomorrow.
In AA, there is a saying that if you stand with one foot on yesterday, and one foot on tomorrow, you are pissing on today.
The Tao of happiness, as I define it, is to have what I need (absence of pain) and the reasoned acquisition of that which I desire. The first step in this process is to determine what is a need and what is a desire.
Maslow did a pretty good pyramid on needs. He postulated that without the basics, the Higher Needs couldnt be met. Basic needs are what is required for life. If I do not have water, shelter, food, or security, it avails me not to go searching for Love, sex, or BCNs. I am not completely in sync with Maslow, because he said that self-actualization required the pre-meeting of all other needs. I think that quite a few in the mountains of Tibet would disagree.
The Higher Needs of Maslows hierarchy are what many would term wants or desires. They are things such as peer recognition, sense of social belonging, and self-actualization (sort of be all you can be). According to Maslow, the Higher Needs become needs after the lower needs are met. In other words, the desire to fit in, (et al) becomes a need after the need to eat (et al) has been met).
Desire is that which is required for quality of life. I can place such an emphasis on a desire that it becomes a need. And this is how it should be, I think. Any desire that I choose to pursue I should pursue with the seriousness of a child at play. Nothing else should matter; and so in order to maintain my reasoned part of the Tao of Happiness, I must think it through carefully, and ensure that I really want it (meaning, it is worth the cost and I am not deluding myself as to the worth of the object of desire nor the cost of acquisition).
The Tao of unhappiness is when I place an unreasonable emphasis on a desire as a means to my happiness, or an unreasonable expectation on myself in my ability to achieve it. Things are not ever going to MAKE me happy; neither will a person, or a place. I would have said nouns will never make me happy, but a concept is a noun, and they concepts make me happy. And I have limitations on what I can achieve, and what value what it is I have to offer in exchange for the acquisition of my desire.