Do you believe that rich people are never happy? I believe money can’t buy happiness but can it cause unhappiness? I’m reminded of the old saying ‘money can’t buy you everything but have you ever tried to buy anything without it?’ Maybe rich people just have different problems. Problems the rest of us can’t even imagine. Like ‘are all those people around me trying to steal my money?’ Ah, the poor things!
I think if rich people are unhappy, it’s because they live in a bubble. Everyone within their bubble is wealthy but some people will always be wealthier than others. So now you have the guy with one million feeling he’s hard done by because he can’t afford everything his neighbour with two million can buy.
I’ve never known anyone who was super wealthy so I can only go by people I’ve seen on TV. I watched one episode of The Real Housewives of (somewhere people had a lot of money) and I felt I’d rather cut my throat than live like that. Admittedly it was TV and the cast were trying to be dramatic, but if extremely wealthy people who can afford to do anything or go anywhere, really waste their time and money on stupid, petty, one-upmanship, most people I know have more rewarding lives. Another programme about the rich and famous showed a woman getting jewels applied to her already ridiculously expensive bag (purse in the US) to make it more unique. What a waste! Remember the saying ‘youth is wasted on the young’? Maybe money is wasted on the rich.
Recent studies claim that money can make you happy until you earn about 45,000 p.a., then it stops having much effect. The theory behind this is that when you first get money, you buy the things that are most important to you. As your salary increases, there are fewer things that matter to you so you get less satisfaction from increased wealth. If this is correct, then the happiest people should be those who are comfortable but not super rich. But are these people really happy? Maybe they are if they appreciate they have privileged lives. But are most people who are comfortably wealthy even aware that they are very lucky? I remember a wealthy politician advising her constituents that they needed to economise in times of economic depression and should ‘forget that second holiday.’ She was totally oblivious to the fact that her constituents’ worries centered around keeping a roof over their heads and feeding their kids. Like the super rich, she lived in a bubble where everyone was comfortable and she hadn’t noticed that other people had very different lives.
In Ireland there has been a lot of talk lately about the housing crisis and how the exorbitant deposits required to get a mortgage make it almost impossible for young people to get on the housing ladder. An Irish politician who is one of the ‘comfortably wealthy’ had a solution to this. Young people should borrow the deposit from their parents. He seemed surprised at the reaction to this comment. In his privileged world, this was the obvious solution. It had never registered with him that others may not have the same options.
So how much money do you need to be happy? Obviously, if you are destitute, you’re not going to be happy. And, apparently, being comfortably well off or super rich doesn’t make you happy either. Maybe the best we can hope for is that we’ll be miserable and rich rather than miserable and poor.
One person who definitely belongs in the ‘comfortably wealthy’ bubble is Robert, one of the characters in my thriller Girl Targeted. Robert grew up in a reasonably well off family. He has a good salary but that isn’t nearly enough for him. He yearns for a life of luxury where it isn’t necessary to work at all. Throw in any number of young, beautiful ladies and the odd fast car and he feels he’s on his way to the good life. If you’d like to find out more about Robert, check out my thriller ‘Girl Targeted’.