People say "It could be worse" like it is an automatic checkmate. I wonder if they realize this same tactic - making everything relative - could also be used to nullify triumphs...
SCENE I. Authentic generic Irish bar.
Enter LOVESICK GUY and SKEPTICAL FRIEND
I thought life had no purpose until I met her. Now, for the first time in years, I can smell the flowers, I can feel the sunshine, I can ignore all the jackoffs in this bar I used to dream about killing.
Hey man, it could be better! You think you're in love? That couple over there is even more in love than you are. What right do you have to be so happy about your love?
All the familiar "It could be worse" platitudes can be flipped over and used to put a ceiling on any expression of happiness.
What makes you think your triumphs are so important?
Who are you to be happy in a world where so many people are doing so much better than you?
Your triumphs pale in comparison to the triumphs of a lot of other people in the world. Don't be so self-centered.
Oh, you're happy about owning a Volkswagen? Tell that to the guy in the Maserati.
Someone is always doing better than you, and someone is always doing worse than you. If other people's relative joy or misery held that much sway over our feelings, all of us would forever be in emotional purgatory; never up or down, never victorious or defeated. Our entire life would be an ordeal of nonstop measurements. I would hate to have to become The Count to determine if I should be happier or sadder than the Joneses.