First of all I cannot really grasp happiness as anything beyond the temporary euphoria I experience. Sometimes, when everything is going well and external pressures are at a minimum, there is a feeling of satisfaction that ensues. But even this is dependent on me thinking about how my position is good. At every moment there are continuous variations in my experience.
If I think happiness is the general contentment when things are going well, then is it the predominance of pleasant feelings over the ones that are bad? But still the bad needs to exist to create necessary contrast. For example: say you move from Utah to California, initially the better weather is admired and gives you a lot of pleasant feelings when you think about the contrast. But this also seems as just a thought. For example: I love my camera, but while typing the first part, the camera was nowhere in my thoughts until I remembered it just now. So we get pleasure only when we think certain thoughts.
The interesting part about this game of duals/contrast is that wherever you are, there is infinity on both sides of the spectrum. So you always feel you are in the center no matter where you are. That is why we are afraid to completely enter the present moment. If you are fully involved in a book, you totally forget about your body, whether your a man or female, where you are in the world etc. We access our memory and recall our relative positioning in everything we care about and position our-self on the scale. Now this is again a relative scale we use. For e.g.: I will rate myself as intelligent or dumb depending upon the people who are in contact with me and to whom I have given significance over a period of time. But these people may just be a small set of say 100 people. A person in the Mensa club, if he is only in contact with those 100 people all the time, he would soon start to feel very dumb if he is unable to compete in any of their activities.
Our feelings seem to depend on what paradigm we see ourselves in. People use memory to keep track of their overall position. Like if you ask a person about how good looking or intelligent he is, he could give you a percentile score based on his intuition using all the patterns stored in memory. Even our memory stores only 1/billionth of sensory input. Only information that is deemed significant is stored. We usually dismiss anything below a certain threshold of change as white noise. Very slow changing things give us the illusion of permanence. For example: Our body keep slightly changing in appearance throughout our life but whenever we look in the mirror we do not see this dis-continuity.
There are core beliefs that keep us locked into believing this paradigm is reality. But when we really question it, it looks like an illusion. There are so many scientific facts which are counter-intuitive to all our senses. Can we really trust our senses for truly understanding reality? When we are dreaming we totally believe our senses are conveying real information.
Even in this changing experience, there is a feeling of me which seems continuous. I suppose that this is from some core beliefs firmly lodged in the subconscious creating the specific patterns of perception and bio-chemistry.
Maybe this reality we have is even better than whatever concepts we come up for heaven. Since I have the power to believe in anything or drop any belief. I may be everything and I can choose to be anything in this sample space by directing my attention and interest in that direction. The key would be to reach emptiness and see our entire lives from there.