We should consider that happiness and pleasure can be worlds apart. If happiness can be characterized as a state of well-being, pleasure must then be characterized as a state or condition of sensual gratification. Following the teachings of the Buddha can bring happiness but dining with Mary, hopefully, to spend the night with her is certain to bring pleasure. Reflecting on this, so much of what we do is centered not on happiness but, instead, is centered on pleasure from going to a football game, filling our gut with pizza to having sex. Taking a cruise to Alaska, dining in France, hunting in the wilderness—yes, even hiking, falls under the rubric of pleasure.
Being happy is not as easy as finding pleasure. It might be a truism to say that all the pleasure in the world will not bring us happiness. We might also be terribly unhappy with, eventually, pleasure losing its pleasure! On the other hand, we can envision being happy with few and simple pleasures. We can also envision discovering the meaning of life bringing us happiness. This happiness means that we are able to distinguish what is truly eternal from what is merely temporal and sensory conditioned.
The real problem comes when we have happiness and pleasure mixed up. One day we realize that we have been pursuing pleasure but we're unhappy. We don't know what to do about it except to seek more pleasure. Some decide to join a Zen community or a Dharma center. Now the aim is to be happy. But it takes a lot of work to be happy. Maybe its not like we expected. What if being happy is a challenge for us; we find that it is hard to kick the habit of pleasure? Practicing in a way so as to make a real distinction between happiness and pleasure should be tops on our list of things to do if we are in our 20s. If we don't, since we are targets of a consumer culture we may end up permanently believing pleasure is happiness losing all sense of what happiness really is.
It is possible that so much of what we do today, including rearing our children, is pleasure centered. If I happen to question a friend to tell me, honestly, if he is happy I think he will answer my question with, "What do you mean by happiness?" It is very likely that we have lost our ability to know what happiness is and to find it. Oh sure, people will say they are happy but they really mean is they have a lot of pleasures to look forward to such as making more money, buying a new house, going on that special trip to Italy, and so on. Even getting married is a pleasure. Maybe happiness will eventually become extinct. Presently, we seem to be going from pleasure to depression clueless as to what happiness is—even unable to be happy.