Because we’re so susceptible to contrast comparisons, our highs cannot exist without lows. It’s not just wishful thinking to believe adversity is a necessary component of life — hardship literally makes us happier. Good times will be perceived better if we’ve experienced discomfort. A perfect life necessarily includes contrasts.
But of course we don’t stop at evaluating our own lives, we also compare ourselves to others. Our happiness is related to the happiness of others. When we idealize the lives of others on social-media, we often feel less happy. But the opposite is also true, when we see the misfortune of others, we enjoy our own situation that much more. Because suffering exists, we’re happier.
It’s not that we enjoy the misery of others, but the contrast allows us to appreciate our own lives that much more. We don’t even know the entirety of their situation, we’re just guessing based on the limited data we can discern. Our happiness therefore, is derived from what we imagine, from our flawed perception of what surrounds us.
Because happiness is based on contrasting elements evaluated within our mind, we can manipulate it without involving the external world. In other words, we don’t need to change our lives to be happy, we need to change our minds. We can alter how and what we compare. Our standard of judgement is arbitrary, if it’s no longer in our favor, make it so.