And of course, the answer to my obtuse question in the headline is "of course"-- happiness goes hand and glove with optimism. The trick we are going for this year is to see both good and bad events positively reframed as something that will ultimately result in good-- and then we will be happy, happy, happy (as Andrea on my Facebook list is wont to write in her status bar on a fairly regular basis : ))
Happiness ranges from a generalized sense of well-being through contentment right up to euphoria and ecstacy. Being happy can mean something different for each of us. This subjective "well-being" really entails feeling more pleasant emotions than unpleasant ones. There is even a genetic component-- twin studies demonstrate that identical twins raised apart are more similar to each other in their happiness levels than are fraternal twins who are raised together (??????). But environment and circumstances also play a big role in determining well-being. If you just lost your job-of-a-lifetime you will likely experience a plummet in your sense of wellbeing regardless of your genes. Being able to afford the basic physical needs (food, shelter, clothing) makes for a pretty level playing field where sense of well-being is concerned-- additional wealth has little influence over that general feeling of well-being. (see the video below) More important factors are satisfying relationships, self-esteem, family and friends.
Individuals in couples tend to express being happier than single adults. (strange as that may seem in this day of chosen "singleness" and rife divorce stats).
And, again, like the Good Book and all the Law-of-Attraction people preach, it is highly useful to Count Your Blessings-- be grateful and express your gratitude for the people and things that make your life what it is.
For those of you who like to do little tests online, here is one that will give you a general gauge of how satisfied you are with your life: Satisfaction with Life Scale.
With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.