ABSOLUTE and RELATIVE EMOTIONS
A starving man in a POW camp receives a slice of bread at the end of the day's torture session. He exclaims, "Oh joy!" Hugh Hefner ejaculates prematurely in the playmate of the year. He exclaims, "Oh shit!" Which man would you rather be - the one feeling joy, or the one feeling sorrow?
Emotions exist in both an absolute and a relative sense. Here's what's going on. In the absolute sense, you either like existing or you don't. Between liking and disliking is a thin line of indifference. See diagram. Above the X line means you like existing; below means you don't. The X axis of indifference is at point zero of the Y axis of positive or negative emotion. The farther one is above the X axis, the more he enjoys existing. Conversely below that axis. The increments on the X axis constitute time - could be a lifetime, could be a day - doesn't matter. The increments on the Y axis are arbitrary, so there is no reason to name them. Is there such a thing as a maximum height on the Y axis, beyond which a person does not desire to go? I don't know. Ask Hef.
Is the man in the POW camp above or below point zero on the Y axis? One could argue that if he is able to commit suicide and hasn't, then he must be above the zero point. But if he is only refraining from suicide for fear of punishment in an afterlife, then he would, in fact, rather be non-existent. Also, if he refrains from suicide for hope of a greater reward in an afterlife, that doesn't change the fact that he would rather be non-existent in the present. Or if he wants to exist only in hope of getting out and writing a book and running for office, then technically he wants to exist later, but would rather not be existing at the present time. Note that the graph is about emotion, not about gratefulness of ingratefulness for existence, because the tortured man may desire to exist now only in order to exist later. The POW, while being tortured, is below point zero - far below it. When the day is over, and he gets his slice of bread, does he then jump to above point zero? No. He moves up the Y axis just a little bit.
These two areas above and below the X axis have been called by many different names: pleasure vs. displeasure, joy vs. sorrow, happiness vs. unhappiness. These pairs of labels are, in fact, denotatively identical. Pleasure, joy, and happiness are labels for the same psychological concept regardless of what caused them. Their differences are only connotative.
Now to address the same concepts in the relative sense. When the POW ends his day of torture and gets his slice of bread, he experiences relative happiness - relative to the rest of his day. But he is still nowhere near as happy(absolutely) as Hef on his worst day. Now maybe the POW goes to Heaven and Hef goes to hell. That still doesn't change the emotional reality of the present moment.
If all this seems too obvious to be worth saying, just remember it next time you ask somebody how they are feeling, and consider the possibility that if they wanted you to know, they would tell you.