Care to look at my guide on happiness? It's in the strategy section. Anyways, the issue you're having with happiness, AI is suffering it too. It doesn't matter if you settle slowly as long as you settle faster than AI. A sound combination of successful exploration, revealed resources, a couple of workers for connecting luxuries you can trade and some help from the pantheon. Then, a tight control over the city growth if you value more the number of cities than your population.