Now that you’ve formed your own idea, here is what Wikipedia says: “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being.”
Here is a second question: What would make you happy? Don’t ponder this question, just get a clear picture of the first answer that pops into your mind. Most people will think of something outside of themselves; the largest group will probably think of money or something that money can buy. A smaller, but significant group will think of something concerning relationships. And a yet smaller group will think of something having to do with position, status, or how others view them. Any answer, however, that lies outside your own mental state is wrong. Things, people, position—none of these have the power to give happiness. But how we react to them will affect our state of well-being. So, if it is our reactions that make us happy or unhappy, here is a final question:
Is happiness a choice? That is, can you learn to control your reactions? The tendency is glibly to say, of course I can. But if it were that easy, everyone would be happy all the time. You would be happy all the time. Are you?
Here is what yogic teachings have to say about it. Theoretically you can control your reactions, but habit patterns from this life or past lives might limit your ability to do so. In order to be happy all the time, we have to change these mental and emotional habits. Patanjali goes even further and says we need to learn to neutralize the chitta (primordial feelings of likes and dislikes that reside in the heart area). When we can do this, we will achieve a state of union and a state of bliss.
So, what prevents us from neutralizing the whirlpools of chitta? Habit is one answer. Another is that we don’t really want to; we still like the excitement of the emotional ups and downs of life’s roller coaster. The first step is truly to want bliss rather than excitement or, stated another way, to want God more than the material world. Only once this desire is strong enough do we then come to the study of yoga, or scientific methods leading to union with the Infinite. And what are those methods?
Feelings, it turns out, are based upon the flow of prana (energy) in the astral and physical spine. An upward, expansive flow results in feelings of happiness and well-being, while downward, negative flows result in discontents and unhappiness. So Paramhansa Yogananda taught us methods that help us to control this prana, techniques of pranayama including Kriya Yoga. Day by day, meditation by meditation, we learn to bring this energy under our conscious control. When prana is in a still state, the waves of chitta subside, and we are finally able to see our true self, our blissful soul nature, which seeks nothing outside itself.
So, here are possible answers to all of those questions:
What is happiness? Bliss.
Where can we find it? In our soul nature.
What makes us happy? To unite with our soul nature, which is already happy.
Is this a choice? Yes, but in order to make it, we have to overcome the restless resistance of the ego.
In the joy of the soul, Nayaswami Jyotish