Enlightenment is a state of mind that encompasses many things. It resembles happiness, but it’s more stable than happiness as such.
Some who hear the word “enlightenment” associate it with eastern philosophy. The word conjures up spirituality and perhaps religiosity. Since this is the case, people who are not deeply spiritual thinkers or who do not follow religious practices can feel alienated when considering or discussing enlightenment. They may think of enlightenment as being something given to a person by the universe after that person does some type of work.
I do not agree with that mindset. Rather, enlightenment should be seen as a natural intellectual state of mind that a person can bring themselves to with practice. A person achieves enlightenment when they can be present in the moment rather than drifting aimlessly mentally and emotionally or being controlled by impulses and automatic reactions to experiences.
Enlightenment is a state of mind that encompasses gratitude combined with both passion and awe. It's not an imaginary place created by gurus for the purpose of selling tickets to shows. Enlightenment can also be seen as an intellectual achievement that enables people to temper the fires of their animal natures.
Happiness can be fleeting and deceptive. All the wealth in the world cannot make a person happy. Neither can physical beauty create happiness. The most beautiful person in the world might look at him or herself in the mirror and see themselves as being ugly.
It's a puzzling thing about the human mind that good things often don't bring happiness to people who have them. We can speculate that there is a condition in our will and in our ego that makes it so that we will have extreme difficulty achieving fulfillment.
I believe that the only way to feel fulfilled is to surrender and be at peace with what is. That's a difficult thing to do.
Having said that, some people do live fulfilling lives even if they're not particularly focused on enlightenment as such. Some people get older, and as their body begins to tire they look back and see a legacy of children, grandchildren, accomplishments, and the like.
I’d venture to say, though, that looking back on a long life and being satisfied and at peace about it is more the exception rather than the norm. We all have a limited amount of time on this planet. We can use it wisely if we seek the state of being of enlightenment; of being at peace with things as they are, changing them for the better when we can and being accepting of them when we cannot. Engaging in daily meditation can go a long way towards helping us achieve such a state of acceptance and positivity.