There are four noble truths upon which all Buddhist teaching is based. It is said that if you do not understand these truths it is impossible for you to practice Buddhism. Buddhism, like most other religions has the potential to serve the community and produce good well-natured people. To be a successful Buddhist you must understand the interdependent nature of reality. All of Buddhist Philosophy rests on this one basic truth. In addition to this, you must also practice non-violence, this is at the very least refraining from harming others, but more specifically it means that you should do your best to help other people.
When you decide to become Buddhist, you decide to take refuge in the three jewels. From this you develop Bodhichitta (compassion), or a good heart. The three Jewels of Buddhism are Buddha, the Dharma and his teachings, and the Sanngha. To develop ones Bodhichitta it is necessary to aim all, or most, of ones activities to helping others. You must develop a good foundation in this or you will not be able to achieve higher levels in Bodhichitta. It is important to realize that the practice of taking refuge in the Three Jewels is not just a ceremony, this confusion is because of the Refuge Ceremony that is often associated.
The most important thing is reflection, and believing in the teachings of Buddha. Most Buddhists think of Buddha as not just a man. They believe in buddhahood which is based on spiritual levels. Buddhahood is a spiritual state of being. This is why Buddhist scriptures speak of many Buddhas i. e. Buddhas of past present and future. This means that a Buddha can come into being. The question is only, how is that accomplished? To become a Buddha that would mean you would have to become fully enlightened. Many people question whether this is level of enlightenment is even possible to attain.
One thing that may be close are the Sangha. The Sangha are people who follow the Dharma and its teachings. These people have reached an incredible level of enlightenment. They have rejected a great deal of negative thinking and afflictive emotions. Even they, however have not removed all of this, to do so would be to enter Buddhahood. In the four noble truths, the order in which they are written or introduced, is not necessarily in order of importance or even the order in which they may appear in life.
The truths work different for each individual Buddhist. Happiness for example is different for everyone. Happiness has two meanings in Buddhism. One of course is the traditional sense of happiness. The other is the total absence of suffering, this may not result in extreme elation but it is considered the highest form of happiness because there is complete freedom from suffering. This is Cessation. This can never be produced or created by anything however, from the Buddhist perspective. The deepest Buddhist hopes are to be free from suffering.