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When it comes to business, most would understand what is meant by net profit margin — the percentage of total sales that is actual money you gain in your pocket. In other words, what percentage of sales is left after subtracting your cost of goods sold, operating expenses and taxes.
In life, I argue one’s net profit margin equals the abundance of happiness one feels, both regularly and with varying intensity. Total sales equal the abundance of pure joy and happiness that can be redeemed around you. Cost of goods sold equals the effort one puts in, day in and day out. Operating expenses equal long-term effort and vision for one’s life. And taxes equal one’s obligations, such as making dinner, cleaning, doing laundry, putting effort into relationships and other consistently required duties.
Some would argue net profit margin, literally speaking, equals happiness in life after equating more money with actual happiness felt. I would argue, on the other hand, that net profit margin equals happiness in life after inputting life variables — and seeing if, when, and how the scale tips in your favor. What does this mean?
You don’t necessarily need to be making money to actually feel happy. If you have an ability to redeem joy and happiness around you — and your efforts, vision and obligations are aligned in your favor — then you’ll feel happiness consistently, regularly and oftentimes blissfully.
1. Recognize the abundance of joy and happiness around you
Oftentimes, there is plenty to enjoy around us if we only focus our attention for a brief moment. In this pause, we can seize happiness via appreciation. To appreciate every little thing around us requires focusing our attention repeatedly, but the end result is greater joy and happiness (which can be analogous to an infinite amount in total sales!). For instance, try this: Next time you are eating a meal, think about your appreciation for a hand and its fingers and their ability to allow you to eat with a spoon or a fork. Or try this: The next time you are in the shower, think about your appreciation for the clean, warm (or, for some, cold!) water that you wash yourself with. Pausing and focusing on what we can be grateful for brings blissful moments that — as they add up — deliver abundant joy and happiness to life.
2. Find a way to work smart, yet hard, and in your favor
If your cost of goods sold equals effort put in day in and day out, then one would logically want to minimize this effort. This is what I mean by working smart. At the same time, a higher quality of goods sold should be on par with higher effort. Therefore, working hard to achieve high quality is also a must. Bottom line, your day in and day out effort should play to your favor. Whether it is through building a product, service, brand or even none of the above (maybe you’re a stay at home parent) — this variable could mean securing value in a future brand as big as Microsoft, or it could mean securing value in your children’s wellbeing and future happiness.
Related: Which Country’s Citizens Are Considered the Happiest in the World?
3. Use long-term effort and vision to your advantage
When operating expenses are really high, this means you haven’t figured out your vision for your life quite yet and your long-term effort seems to stack much higher than others around you. Why? Many possible variables could answer that question. For example, with self-reflection and experience, many younger adults grow into their future selves. Time might need to pass for you to align your operating costs and capitalize on happiness. Once you’re ready, use your vision to lower your “operating expenses” by setting and reaching mini and macro goals. For example, once you’re realized you want to be a race car driver and want a happy, satisfied living, you’ll work towards the smaller goals needed to achieve your larger objective.
4. Remember that obligations are a part of life
Taxes or “obligations” in life are for almost everyone. Your dinner, household chores, laundry, relationships, car maintenance, groceries, tooth-brushing and other obligations cannot be missing from the equation. They might not directly capitalize on happiness you feel, but they are part of the equation. For example, if you don’t brush your teeth, you’ll experience tooth loss or dentures, which will make eating less pleasant. If you don’t keep your car in good shape, you won’t be able to go outside on your own beyond your neighborhood, which will likely make other obligations difficult to achieve. The point is that taxes or obligations are a valued part of life and play an important role in the overall equation for life happiness and satisfied living.
The most important part of the equation, which you can always tip in your favor, is recognizing the abundance of joy and happiness around you. Achieved through gratitude or appreciation, your “total sales” can always go up! Remember this, as well as the other life variables, and your net profit margin will consistently be positive and equal happiness in life.