A lot of people seem to believe that poor people are unhappy. Clearly, these people have no idea about poverty, or happiness for that matter. On the contrary, if you look at rich people’s lives, you will find that the richer you are, the more difficult it is to have a life of fulfilment. Especially, if you are someone who has inherited the wealth, instead of earning it. In a fictional story, you might become the Batman; but in real life, chances are, you would be a Donald Trump. Anyway, I am not going to talk about rich people’s intelligence. My concern is whether the money affects our happiness, and if it does, then which way?
The most important factor in the quest of happiness is freedom. While your bank balance may give you freedom in buying certain items, it limits your choices in terms of what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Which, according to me, is much more important than the former. Accept it or not, you and I are victims of consumerism. Our principle is lifestyle. So, here is what we do: we surround ourselves with all kinds of things that are supposed to make our lives comfortable. Then we turn blind. We start pretending that anyone who has not got such luxury, must be unhappy. And we keep telling the same lie to ourselves and those around us, to feel good about our life. But, it’s a lie and it will remain so.
Secondly, when you are born (and brought up) with a certain kind of social status, there are certain expectations from you. These expectations arise, not only from your parents and near-and-dear-ones, but even from your own self. And you make your career (or life) choices by comparing your options with the ones you have had in the past. Your expectations are already set. That way you are never going to start from wherever-you-want-to. There is a certain kind of baggage you will be carrying. And you will always do, thereafter.
Coming back to the point of happiness, when you have the luxury in everyday life, most people around you expect you to be happy. They keep telling you that you are lucky to have so many good things in your life, and therefore, you should be happy. As a rich person, you are entitled to be surrounded by fools. As you would realise, this never works. If you try to convince yourself by this dull-witted logic, you will most likely fail. Soon, you will realise that people don’t understand you. And once that happens, the happiness will abandon you further.
You would agree that whether we are rich or poor, we need friends and family to be happy. In short, relationships add a significant value in our lives, and make us happy. But every relationship requires sacrifices, of one kind or the other. That again takes us to our basic values. Have you made sacrifices in order to achieve something, while you were growing up? If not, then you are going to struggle here too. Humility is not something you can buy at a grocery store.
On the other hand, it is rather simple for poor people. For them, it’s easier to find meaning in their lives. Because, if you are poor, every little action of yours leads to an important change in your life. That way, you are more satisfied, and happy too. A poor man knows he cannot control everything. In a sense, he is freer than a rich man. He accepts whatever comes his way, and if something goes wrong, he always has his poverty to blame for. No doubt, there is suffering, but there is no dissatisfaction.
Some people will find the above logic absurd. I do not want them to understand each word of it. Nor am I asking you to donate all your money and live a life of poverty. I want you to observe both the lives closely, and make your own judgment. My only point is, when we have more, we complicate our lives. We forget to understand the essence of life. Which is to live – one day at a time, one moment at a time. And we find ourselves on crossroads, as if no one understands us. It will not happen, if we can just let that baggage go and feel free within ourselves.