Why the rich aren’t happy

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I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times (click here to read it) about why rich people are not as happy as you would expect them to be. When I say rich in this context I am referring to those making over $100,000 but less than millions. These are not the absolute richest people like those on the Forbes lists or those that own their own private jets. However, these are still people that earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and are near the richest in the U.S. on a percentage basis.

A study was conducted to see why these people are not as happy as you would think they would be with this type of income. The reason is because the people that are richer than them are much richer than them. These are people that work very hard and have achieved a lot of success. They are also more in tune with wealthy lifestyles as they live it to some extent. However, this also shows them how much richer the people that are just a few percentage points richer than them are. It’s boils down to when you are middle class you don’t know what you don’t know. However, when you are upper class, but just short of millions and billions, you know what you don’t know. This knowledge seems like a massive income gap and one that is discouraging.

When middle class people get promotions, they earn a few thousand dollars more and they feel good and set their sights on the next step up. However, people in the 90th percentile of income are around the point that they often cannot go any higher. Beyond them there is a much bigger gap until the next step up and this is deflating to them.

This means that happiness is not necessarily in the amount of dollars earned, but in the ability to keep advancing that income and progressing up the ladder. Given this information, those in the middle class (and slightly below/above) can begin to look at their situation in a way that appreciates what they have and motivates them to keep climbing.