Throughout my life, I’ve encountered people from all walks of life, from laborers to CEOs, and everything else in between. However, I couldn’t ascertain whether or not they were happy simply by their physical appearance.
For example, if I were to present you with two people: one of which is a successful, Ivy League-educated CEO earning more money in a month than you will all year; the other person is a high school dropout who works as a cashier at a fast food restaurant – which would you guess is happier?
In my experience, it’s oftentimes the cashier But how could that be? The CEO is far wealthier than the cashier. How could he be crestfallen compared to a simple cashier?
Is happiness correlated with our intellect, our title, or our account balance?
While in China, I met or interviewed countless tycoons. Rarely did I see a smile on their face or a twinkle in their eye. Was it that they were trying to display the stern expression of a boss or were they truly cheerless?
To the contrary, I don’t know how many fast food joints I’ve been to where the staff where cracking jokes with one another and laughing uncontrollably behind the counter. Was there relative lack of responsibility the reason for their boisterous mirth?
It is true that the older we get and the higher we ascend the corporate ladder, the more expectations we have of our life and the more responsibilities we take on. But do these additional responsibilities and expectations affect our level of happiness?
One way to answer this question for yourself is to close your eyes and imagine the happiest time in your life. When in your life did it occur? Compare that to your current state, do you relate more to the CEO or the cashier?