I’ve seen a lot about the difference between these ideas. People chasing happiness think it’s some sort of enlightened fulfillment that they will achieve one moment as an epiphany. That’s just not how it works.
There are two kinds of happiness. The first is when somebody tells you good news or does something nice for you, you feel a surge of good emotions. That’s nice, but it’s fleeting. It’s not permanent, nor should it be. The second is better known as contentment. This is an ongoing sense of calm. It’s more of a neutral feeling, not overtly positive and not negative. It remains running in the background when you are going about your life.
The kind of happiness/contentment comes from a consistent gratitude practice for where you are in life. It comes from knowing that things could always be worse and that you appreciate that they are not. But if things were worse, you’d find the good in that as well.
It also comes from not comparing your situations or trying to see what’s fair compared to everyone else. Comparing leads to envy and discontent.
Chasing happiness is not what we should be doing. We should be cultivating contentment by being grateful and reflecting on ourselves, never others.