We want true happiness through self-actualization — the perception that one has reached his fullest potential as a person. Wealth and pleasure (artha and kama, respectively) are nice but ultimately fleeting. Huston Smith’s comments of Buddhism more eloquently tout this view. I know it’s simple and clichéd, but wealth and pleasure cannot bring lasting happiness. Temporary happiness cannot be what people want, for there is always a letdown, a hunger if you will, after the initial “peak”.
Hinduism agrees that the “drive for success is insatiable.” To do one’s duty (dharma) could be considered a form of self-actualization if one acknowledges that one’s duty may be to live to one’s fullest potential. Living to one’s fullest potential does not necessarily imply garnering vast amounts of wealth, power, and respect. Is liberation (moksha) the Hindu equivalent of Heaven? If so, Brahma/God will eliminate our wants and desires upon liberation/entrance to Heaven. Sensible people want liberation/Heaven because such an experience is the absence of want. Could it really be that what people really want is to not want anything?
I really haven’t touched on what I really want out of life. Right now, I’m in the “security” stage. I don’t want to have to worry about finances, career paths, health, my fiancé, my place in the Reign of God… To me, that is happiness — not having to worry or spend time trying to fix what can’t be fixed.