Life’s not fair. Move on.

Turns out, poverty aint so bad… If we’re all equally poor. It’s only when poverty is compared to less poverty that the situation becomes truly miserable for the the person with less. And this is one of the most important economic (and life) lessons I’ve ever learned.

If everyone around you is still living in student flats at 30, you’d also be comfortable. Your comfort vastly reduces when others (especially those given money from parents) buy their first houses and you’re the only one still slumming it (though those living in real slums would beg to differ).

One thing humans are very, very good at is feeling worthy of their successes and feeling life’s lack of fairness is responsible for their failures. Pay careful attention to your own conversations and you’ll probably find you are guilty too.

It seems to me that you can’t change the hand you are dealt, and dwelling on the unfairness of life is about the best way to ensure it continues to provide unhappiness.

I met a women in America who got me thinking. She had an hour’s wait at the bus stop because her employer hired her on the basis that as soon as they weren’t busy, she had to leave for the day. I bet she was barely making minimum wage, she had zero job security in a workplace she had to choose because she’d used up her meagre savings unsuccessfully trying to start a new life in a new State. They’d booted her out for the day early, and not even worked around her bus schedule.

The reason she was so remarkable is that she owned her problem. Not once did she (justifiably) complain about the huge unfairnesses that had invariably hit her throughout life and the current unfairness she was facing. She just said ‘I am here now at the bottom. But Im going to work my way back up, get my savings back, get a job that has regular hours and get my life back on track.’

Her attitude was astounding. I soon realised that she was actually so much better off than most people who have generally won the game of life. We’re not well equipped to take a hit, and as a result seem to get knocked down harder and stay down longer.

A lot of quotes flying around seem so cliched, Im not sure we really pay attention. It really is true that happiness is a choice and and I’ve never met a happy person who has found themselves there by luck (although it’s often assumed they have).

I left the bus stop wondering how this woman would react to the things I’ve complained about in my life. She’d probably laugh in my face.

4 thoughts on “Life’s not fair. Move on.”

  1. You’ve hit upon something important: the notion that less inequality makes people happy. Go to a place where everyone is equally poor—or equally rich—and there’s less crime and fewer social problems. It does come from that sense of self-worth and dignity, which everyone deserves to have. It’s unlike unequal places where even the poor might strive for an Iphone to keep up with the Joneses—and be on a plan they can scarcely afford, and do without certain things.

    The woman you met is in tough circumstances, and good on her for facing it glass half-full—though I wonder if she realizes how exceptional she is.

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