I’d stop flogging this dead horse if I didn’t have to weekly convince litigants of their own enduring human tendency to prefer relative well-being over absolute material possessions.
This week, that “news” is brought to you by the New York Times to explain why a surprising number of us have not been made terribly unhappy as our financial fortunes decline. As Op-Ed contributor Sonja Lyubomirsky (of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) observes today:
the economists David Hemenway and Sara Solnick demonstrated in a study at Harvard, many people would prefer to receive an annual salary of $50,000 when others are making $25,000 than to earn $100,000 a year when others are making $200,000.
Why? Because we “care more about social comparison, status and rank than about the absolute value of our bank accounts or reputations.” In other words, we’re more concerned with justice (fairness) than we are about the money. Which is why our clients have sought out our help with their personal, financial and commercial problems — because we’re in the justice business. When we understand this, the negotiation of financial settlements becomes a whole lot easier because there are many more ways to deliver justice than by throwing money at it.
Read the full (short) article Why We’re Still Happy here.
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