A politics of happiness may sound frivolous, and it is if you think of “happiness” as simply feeling good (especially since “feeling good” is also not an experience we tend to associate with the federal government). But happiness as shorthand for a good life, which is how a great many philosophers and theorists from Aristotle to Abraham Maslow (of that famous hierarchy of needs) have conceived of it for centuries, is a different animal. Happiness isn’t just an immediate and viscerally gratifying experience, although experiencing indulgence is key to a happy life. Happiness is the ability to pursue meaning, knowledge and experience; to enjoy connection, inquiry and pleasure. It is, quite simply, the point. If we aren’t trying to live happy lives—moral, social, full lives—what are we all doing here?
From Why Happiness is a Political Act by Jill Filipovic