It’s no picnic having a massive bank balance
Mo money, mo problems.
New research shows the richer we get, the less happy we become. A study, published this month in the journal Nature Human Behavior, found that once we reach a certain household income — $105,000 in the United States, $95,000 globally — more income “tended to be associated with reduced life satisfaction and a lower level of well-being.”
And it’s not just adults who are impacted by this phenomenon. Children who come from affluent families are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse than those who come from less affluent families, research shows.
So what exactly is eating at the rich? A lot.
More money, more wants. It may be that once you have enough money to meet basic needs and be able to purchase small conveniences or repay debt, extra money may simply fuel “desires such as pursuing more material gains and social comparisons, which could, ironically, lower well-being,” researchers from Purdue University believe.
Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo — who studied high-net-worth families for her new book, “From Entitlement to Intention: Raising Purpose-Driven Children” — calls this quest for more and more the “treadmill effect.” “We think external things we buy will bring us happiness, but then we get them and we wonder ‘what’s next?” she explains. “That [next thing] has to be bigger and better” than what we had before and than what other people around us have, she adds.
The problem with this, of course, is that plenty of research shows that most material possessions don’t make us happier — instead, it’s things like experiences and having more time to do things we love — and spend time with people we love — that drive happiness. “The deepest pleasures are derived from interpersonal love, warm relationships, giving, appreciation, and gratitude,” explains Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”
More money, more isolation. As we move up the income ladder, we often become more isolated. Indeed, research summarized by the Harvard Business Review concluded that “wealth is isolating … Psychologically, the acquisition of wealth—and more generally, possessions that signal high status—makes us want to distance ourselves from others. This may be due to a feeling of competition and selfishness … It may also be because, quite simply, we don’t need other people to survive the way we did when we were poorer.” Whatever the reasons, the wealthier we get, the less we value social connectedness — and that eats into our overall sense of well-being.
More money, more work. The rich used to be known as the “leisure class.” No longer. An exploration into the topic by The Atlantic noted that “Elite men in the U.S. are the world’s chief workaholics. They work longer hours than poorer men in the U.S. and rich men in other advanced countries. In the last generation, they have reduced their leisure time by more than any other demographic.” And as Moneyish explored, long work hours serve as bragging rights for the richest among us.
The issue here is that while work does provide life satisfaction, working insanely long hours prevents us from doing things proven to make us happy like spend more time with our families. Plus, “usually higher paying jobs and promotions come with more responsibility and stress,” says Crystal Lee, a Los-Angeles-based psychologist.
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