In investment banking and Wall Street jobs, the ‘bonus day’ is an interesting one — everybody gets a cash windfall.
Naturally, they should all be thrilled, right? Yet, NOT everyone is happy.
Why? Did they not just get more money?
Here are the two reasons:
1. Though you get extra money, you were ALREADY expecting it. If the actual bonus is below expectation, you get really unhappy despite getting richer.
2. The next reason is even more interesting. You got $X bonus and are really happy. Until you find that the guy in the next cubicle got 50% more. All your happiness just vaporizes.
These scenarios may sound mockingly hypothetical, but they are very real.
Two things we can observe — what matters way more than our actual life circumstances is how we perceive them. And even on a bonus day, we can be really unhappy.
Also, I am not mocking anyone here — not one of us is totally above greed, envy, and the tendency to compare. These emotions are just as human as love and fear.
However, unless we learn to handle these sentiments, happiness will evade us. Buying yet another car will not get more happiness — it will only clog our garage.
Instead, let’s change how we think. Happiness is manufactured in our brain, not in our bank account.