Money is a very essential part of life. It is what allows economies, businesses and lives to continue growing. Adults spend half their week at work or preparing for work and it’s all to receive the enormous check at the end of the day. Look around and there is actually nothing that isn’t involved with money. The clothes that are worn, the groceries bought, gas for transportation, and so much more. To most people, money is vaguely just money, but it’s a lot more substantial than that. Americans need to realize the effects money can have on a person’s happiness, health, and who they are.
There are many stereotypes about the more wealthy and less wealthy. Actually, there are quite a few negative outcomes that can come from the amount of money earned. According to co-author Michael Kraus, “Lower-class environments are much different from upper-class environments. Lower-class individuals have to respond chronically to a number of vulnerabilities and social threats. You really need to depend on others so they will tell you if a social threat or opportunity is coming, and that makes you more perceptive of emotions.”
Research published in psychology science found that people of lower economic status were better at reading others’ facial expressions than wealthier people. Also a UG Berkeley study found that in San Francisco drivers of more luxurious cars were four times less likely to stop and let pedestrians walk across the road than those in less expensive cars and were also more likely to cut off other drivers. Not saying this goes for everyone but those who have more money or wealth might have less compassion and empathy. Gaining so much money can cause someone to walk around with a big head, meaning they believe they’re better than everyone else.
Obsessing over money can kickstart the release of body chemicals like dopamine, that actually produces a “high” similar to the chemical high of a drug. This can ultimately lead to negative consequences and harm an individual’s well-being. For example addiction to gambling which can lead to losing every last penny. Or addicted to materialistic objects to make themselves look rich.
Many Americans buy what’s popular or trending because they want that acceptance from others around them. A lot of these people aren’t as rich as they look. There is a huge difference between being rich and looking rich. If one was to spend all their money on a nice car, house, clothes and so fourth, they might not have any left over. In reality they aren’t actually rich because they haven’t spent the time to save up that money. It’s their mind telling them they need this and that to fit in. But will money actually buy happiness?
Money can get in the way of things that actually matter such as love and happiness. Extremely rich people actually suffer from higher rates of depression. Not the money itself causing it but the never-ending strive for wealth and materialistic possessions that lead to an unhappy life. According to Michael Norton, a Harvard business school professor, people turn to different dimensions to measure up. A good example is your wealth. Norton explains how many questions people ask themselves are, “am I making more money?” or “Does my house have more square feet?” or “Do I have more houses than I used to?”.
Once this amount of money is actually achieved, it doesn’t stop them from wanting to compete with those around them. “And if a family amasses, say, $50 million but upgrades to a neighborhood where everyone has that much money (or more), they feel a lot less rich than if they had stuck to the peer comparisons they were making tens of millions of dollars ago. Hence the ever-shifting goalposts of wealth and satisfaction.” says Norton. Sometimes Americans don’t buy things because they want to buy them, they buy them because they feel like they need to buy them. People will soon come to realize that even the richest Americans in the world, who can afford anything they want, are not content with life.
Money can buy you temporary happiness but in order to genuinely be happy, you have to put aside those materialistic objects and really focus on what matters the most. There’s always the chance of ruining relationships or trust when it comes to wealth. When worrying too much about what your neighbors of friends think of you, you may lose sight of reality trying to compete to be the best. There are plenty of things individuals can do in order to control emotions and end that goal to make everything a competition. Feelings matter more than materialistic objects. This leads one to ask, how can I be rich and happy at the same time?
The first thing to focus on inorder to become rich is NOT money. Contributing editor, Jeff Haden, says “See money not as the primary goal but as a byproduct of doing the right things.” People can get easily distracted by how much their income is and forget about what provides the most progression. Secondly, is looking out for others and thinking about not only themselves. Keep track of the amount of service getting done each day. Ultimately believing that their success will soon follow after the success of others, whether they help one another achieve this or simply encourage each other. “So they work hard to make other people successful: their employees, their customers, their vendors and suppliers…because they know if they can do that then their own success will surely follow”, Haden explained.
In order to live happily, one must gain respect for themselves. To do this, they need to gain respect for those around them as well. For example if a business owner provides their employees with a higher pay and the benefits, they’ll have a lot more appreciation with the opportunities set on the table. “Excellence is its own reward, but excellence also commands higher pay–and greater respect, greater feelings of self-worth, greater fulfillment, a greater sense of achievement…all of which make you rich in non-monetary terms” (Haden, contributing editor). When picking a career or job, one should pursue something that they’re already naturally good at.
This will get them ahead of the game. Since each individual has their own talents, not everyone will strive to have the same exact job. Lastly, to get on the right track for success, there must be goals set and achieved. Setting up a routine and following this with no hesitation. “Wishing and hoping won’t get you there. Sticking to your routine will, especially when you ruthlessly measure your progress, fix what doesn’t work, and improve and repeat what does work. Success is almost guaranteed when you refine and revise and adapt and work hard every day to be better than you were yesterday.” (Haden 11) Before they know it, they’ll be rich and ultimately proud of the way they got themselves there.
In conclusion, money does not define a person for who they are unless they allow it. Money is a huge part of everyone’s life and can, at length, brainwash a person into someone they don’t want to become. The amount of income won’t shift a person’s happiness drastically, it is the way they choose to use it that will define them. Being smart with how wealthy you are will matter in the long run. Being careful with how obsessive one might get on their weekly paycheck or repeatedly spending it on pointless things that will only cause you to go downhill. Money can impact our sense of morality, our relationships with others, and mental health. I think that it was mainly based on correlation and comparing similar attributes with the more or less wealthy. As Americans, we need to help family, friends, and neighbors to understand the difference between wants and needs. This can surely help us become more successful.