Outstanding writing Jack - zesty, passionate, succinct, inquisitie! Bookmarkign this for future referral - there's so much here to soak in!
My tuppence on this is based the learnigs from Hans Rosling's "Factfulness": Even though things are far from perfect today — global warming, infectious diseases, wealth inequality, etc. — we are at a much better place today than circa. 8000BC when agriculture was invented. And we are getting better at a faster. This dichotomy of “bad but better” is hard to rationalise when we hear of suffering happening right now. Applauding our progress seems heartless while being negative about our future makes us sound rational and virtuous. As Morgan Housel puts it in the also-excellent Psychology of Money, “Optimism sounds like a sales pitch, pessimism sounds like someone trying to help you.”
Not to underestimate your valid points about our happiness, I'd just like to emphasise that our unconscious biases - The Gap Instinct, The fear Instinct, The Negative Instinct (that you write about) The Destiny Instinct and The Blame Instinct - might be skewing our perceptions.
I'd really appreciate your feedback on my article!