I am reading Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist. He argues that life for the vast majority of people is better now than it has ever been, due to specialization and exchange.
The idea that this reading, and many others like it, has led me to is this:
The quest for the happy society begins with the courage to proclaim that the world is better off now than it ever has been, and is getting better.
I believe this is true no matter how materialist or spiritual your standard of happiness is.