Have you ever ordered pizza with friends only to get a single slice? Have you ever split a check at a restaurant, ordered a salad, and paid $20? Then you may understand how people are hoarding happiness.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about financial inequity: people getting rich off of the work of others who can barely make ends meet. Today, let’s look at it from a different angle.
If someone works for a company at minimum wage and is scraping by, requiring a second and third income just to make things work out, that leaves little room for extravagances in the budget. A roof, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, and education all require money.
Going out becomes a luxury. A break becomes a luxury. Rest becomes a luxury. Why? Because others are hoarding happiness.
Like a King or Queen
See, there are people in ownership positions who live extravagantly 24-7. Covid strikes and they sit in their yachts in “perfect isolation”. They eat whatever they want when they want.
They have more money than most of us could spend in a lifetime for child care, education, groceries, dining, entertainment, and more.
The thing is that like the pizza or time out with friends, there is more than enough for everyone. Some people, however, take and take and take and give less to those who make it happen. Whereas the average CEO used to make 30 times their average employee’s salary, they now make 300 times. All the while the tax rate for the wealthiest people is the lowest it’s been in 70 years.
The problem is when someone takes more than their share, however they dress it up, they are taking it from someone else. It would be one thing if someone paid 75% of the pizza bill and ate 3/4 of the pizza. It’s quite another when there are 100 pizzas and one person gets 99 of them.
Not only does everyone have to fight for the last pizza, there is no way the person can eat 99. They are hoarding happiness.
When thousands are struggling to make ends meet while one person can buy and sell countries, they are hoarding happiness. It’s not about the money. Money is simply a tool to access the things we need and want.
An Unhappy Encounter
What everyone really wants is to be able to not only live life, but enjoy it. It seems the only way to make it is to know someone or be born into money. What about everyone else? Why do so many people have to struggle for scraps?
Someone tried to do something about it.
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments was making six figures at his company in 2011. He was a cheery, upbeat guy with a positive view of his work and his employees. But one day he noticed one of his employees in a bad mood and he decided to talk to him. He got more than he bargained for.
Price asked a simple question: “What’s on your mind?” The response from his usually shy employee who was earning $35,000 a year was anything but: “You’re ripping me off.”
As an entrepreneur who prided himself on treating his employees well, this stung. Price wrestled with the conversation for days. Finally, he realized the truth: he was hoarding happiness.
Price did some research and found out that $70,000 was a baseline salary. Studies show happiness is severely impacted by anything less. He decided he would work to make that a minimum salary for every single person in his company. And to pay for it, he would cut his own salary from $1.1 million to $70,000.
NBC News covered the transformation. NBC’s video on the story was the most shared in its history. Half a billion social interactions followed.
Revenue grew. Profits doubled in six months. Price is happy and upbeat. His focus isn’t on money, but on sharing happiness.
When we take more than our share, we are hoarding happiness. When we spread it around, we are making the world better. Life isn’t about getting all the toys and exploiting other people to “win”. Life is about sharing happiness.
How can you share happiness today?