I guess what I'm saying is that even if you need freedom to achieve maximum happiness, complete freedom also leaves you with a much greater chance of getting stuck in some minimal existence. Which basically describes about a quarter the population of Japan.
This whole question could be answered by answering: what are the basic desires of people? I can think of:
6. just wanting to feel good.
Not surprisingly, you can more or less buy any of those with enough money. Or at least make it 100x harder to fail.
However, I suppose that prestige or glory would be much harder things to buy.
You're right, states of minimal happiness are depressingly common. It scares me how appealing alternate worlds like World of Warcraft are to society at large.
Also people's off hours are periodcially scattered, which makes it difficult to focus enough time and energy to create sufficient escape velocity for exiting the vicious cycle.