Back in April, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, announced a plan to cut his own salary in order to raise minimum pay at the company to $70,000/year.

Photo by Jimmyjay525/Wikimedia Commons.


And there was much rejoicing. At last, a CEO gets it! Finally, someone at the top is putting their money where their mouth is and striking against inequality!

And the best part: Everyone wins and no one loses!

But apparently, Price's announcement actually made some people feel like they had lost...

...including two higher-ranking employees at Gravity Payments, who said the blanket raise minimized their contributions to the organization, according to a July 31, 2015, report in the New York Times.

"Two of Mr. Price's most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises."

Predictably, the story of the employee backlash began trending on social media almost immediately...

...fueled largely by the gloating of America's uncles.

"I told you so. Economics. Natural selection. The Fountainhead." — Your uncle. Photo by Matthew G/Flickr.

"This is why you can't reward laziness," your uncle probably posted on Facebook. "It's bad for business, and it disrespects the hard work of hard-working people."

According to some economic theories, it's human nature to think like this.

Equity theory, which was developed by psychologist J. Stacy Adams in 1963, claims that if one group of people within an organization discover that a second group of people within the same organization are being compensated similarly for work they perceive to be less valuable, the first group of people get — to use a bit of social science terminology — "pretty pissed."

And look, if I were a disgruntled employee and a bunch of my colleagues who I didn't think deserved it got raises and I didn't, I might feel like quitting too.

But here's the thing: We're not economic theory. We are human beings. With free will! We don't have to act the way obscure social science texts predict we will.

In fact, in many cases, it actually makes more logical sense not to. Even though it feels unfair.

If you think about it that way, the backlash against Price really doesn't add up.

Let's break it down, point by point.

"It's unfair that people who aren't doing as hard of a job as me are getting a lot more money, and I'm not."

B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-but. But. But ... ... But. ......... But. Image via Thinkstock.

You're a software engineer at a credit card processing company. You're making $150K/year. The guy in the boiler room makes $35K/year.

Then, boom. Your CEO makes a random announcement on a Monday morning, and suddenly the guy in the (figurative) boiler room is making $70K/year. And you're pissed! "What did he do to deserve that?" you wonder. "Why does he get so lucky and I don't?"

Here's the catch: Nothing bad has happened to you. You're still doing great! It's just ... some other people are making less-not-as-much-money-as-you than before.

Yeah, the other guy just ran into a boatload of cash, and that feels unfair. But the important thing to remember is that you are still making the same amount of money as before.

Is the guy in the boiler room only worth 20% what you're worth — or half as much? Not so long ago, the latter seemed fair. Now, no one blinks an eye when CEOs make 373 times more than the average U.S. worker. But when it comes down to it, it's ... kind of arbitrary.

Either way, economic theory states you're only mad because someone else is doing better than they were last week relative to you.

That seems a little ... I don't know. Just ... I don't know. Just think about it.

"But my salary isn't just how much I get paid. It's a measure of how important I am relative to other people."

I'll give you 50,000 reasons why I'm better than you! Image via Thinkstock.

Look, I totally get it. Many people, myself included, derive tons of satisfaction from earning a lot of money and knowing that other people don't earn as much. Not only does it feel completely amazing, it's only natural to tie the number on your paycheck to how valuable you are as a human being.

But what if ... I don't know — we didn't.

Like, what if we didn't measure our self-worth against how much money we made?

Just ... as something to try.

It's not that hard, actually! Here, for example, are some other ways you can measure your self-worth:

1. How good you are at basketball.

2. Whether you can build a boat.

3. Whether you're kind.

4. Whether you've eaten at all the restaurants featured on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."

5. How many celebrities you know.

6. Whether you are a reliable, dependable friend, and/or you call your mother at least once a week.

These scales may not be as obvious. But they're really useful! Because there may come a time when you stop making a lot of money. For most people, it happens eventually.

And when that day comes, we'll be glad we had one of these bad boys in our back pocket. And that we called our mother all those times.

"But the work they do is not as hard as the work I do."

Not-hard work, apparently. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress.

True, many of the people who received the largest raises at Gravity Payments fill traditionally "blue collar" roles in the company. People who, as one of the departing Gravity Payments employees artfully euphemism'd to the Times, clock in and clock out:

"The new pay scale also helped push Grant Moran, 29, Gravity's web developer, to leave. "I had a lot of mixed emotions," he said. His own salary was bumped up to $50,000 from $41,000 (the first stage of the raise), but the policy was nevertheless disconcerting. “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me," he complained. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members."

And, sure! For someone who spends their days doing the essential work of sitting in front of a computer screen debugging Java C++ or whatever, it must be really upsetting when your boss signals that your coworkers who spend their days lifting really heavy boxes are also important members of the team whose jobs contribute real value.

It must also be hard to see them get raises that make a real, material difference in their lives. Here's the Times, again (emphasis mine):

"Mr. Price has undoubtedly made an immediate difference in the lives of many of his employees. José Garcia, 30, who supervises an equipment team, was able to afford to move into the city and replace the worn tires on his car. Ms. Ortiz, who was briefly homeless as a child, can now visit her family in Burlington, Vt. Cody Boorman, 22, who handles operations out of his eastern Washington home, said he and his wife finally felt financially secure enough to start a family."

There are a few ways to react to this.

One way is to resent your coworkers and feel superior.

Another possible way is to be happy for them, instead of resenting them.

You could also try being more stoked that you are getting a raise than upset that someone else also is.

You could understand that, while your job is hard and one they probably wouldn't be able to do, their jobs are also hard, also important, and ones you probably wouldn't want, or even be able, to do.

You could consider that maybe the kind of work our society values and doesn't value is kind of arbitrary, and why shouldn't an equipment manager make the same salary as a web developer?

And you could realize that the financial security of your newly well-compensated colleagues will ultimately allow them to spend more of their brain space on improving the company and less on how they're going to feed their family night to night, thus benefitting the whole team.

It's asking a lot. But you could view it that way if you wanted to.

Here's the good news.

What, this isn't how you react to good news? Image via Thinkstock.

For all the commotion, all the articles, theories, and social media blowback, only two employees quit Gravity Payments as a result of the mass raise.

Two.

In a company of roughly 120.

That means 118 people stayed.

Gravity has its share of troubles. They're facing a major lawsuit (unrelated to the pay bump), which, combined with the pay increase, has created cash flow problems for the company.

Change is hard. And feelings can get complicated. It's human nature to compare yourself to others, and that gets even more fraught when money is involved. That seems to be what's playing out post-announcement. It doesn't mean anyone is a bad person — even the two people who quit.

But at the end of the day, 118 employees either benefited from the salary increase or felt that their own happiness wasn't dependent on the continuing relative misfortune of their coworkers.

It may not seem like much, but it's a decent start, at the very least.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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This article originally appeared on September 7, 2016

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Photo via Jonna Roslund, used with permission.

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Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

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