The Greatest Paradox Of Becoming Wealthy

Socrates once said: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

He went around talking to experts of all professions, asking them questions that they ought to know as a professional but could not answer.

When he then confronted them about the fact that they could not answer such a simple question they became arrogant, defensive and did not accept that they had no idea, which sprung forth his quote above.

The wealthy follows a similar premise, for they often understand that money is not the answer.

They act like they are happy in the public eye, because it sells, but often still have thousands of struggles on their own.

And while they know this, we believe that, due to their wealth, they must be happy. We are like the professional too arrogant to see the truth.

Take a look at the suicide and depression statistics among the wealthy and studies regarding their happiness and you will see that money cannot be a cause for happiness, else those statistics would be vastly different.

And the studies that have been done by researchers for decades support this point, including the very discussed Princeton study in 2010 that found well-being only to rise until an income point of about $86,000.

Many follow-up studies thereafter also support this, although with a different income number as the cut-off point. All numbers range within $35,000 — $210,000 depending on family size and location, but never more than that.

That being said, the problem is not necessarily that we are too arrogant to see this truth, but maybe too hopeful.

We struggle so much in life, have so much to worry about, and try so hard that we want an easy fix. And while money may not be the easiest of fixes it at least gives us a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thinking that money causes happiness gives a relatively straight-forward path to walk with a clear goal. If that goal is taken from us, we suddenly have to figure it all out on our own, which has a large possibility of being wrong.

But, deep inside, we do understand that money does not cause happiness. But since we are so hopeful we look at the wealthy with astronomical expectations, causing them far more stress and pressure than they would have otherwise.

Every mistake they make gets shamed, every frown, bad day or tear is unacceptable, and they are reminded of it everywhere they go.

Everybody, no matter where they are from, no matter how well-off they seem, no matter what is going on in their life, struggles. Everybody has their own demons, their own stories and their own difficulties to deal with, yet the wealthier you get the less it is allowed.

In that case, the paradox of wealth is that it actually creates more pressure.

Which is exactly why so many successful people crash in such dramatic ways. A lot of them simply do not have the energy, self-awareness and self-love to deal with the constant barrage of expectations.

Very few wealthy people are so comfortable with themselves that they have nothing to hide. Most of them, instead, choose to portray something they are not, while some put up a giant wall filled with their own ego.

But since they portray themselves to be happy it amplifies the hope that everybody else already has, creating an even more ingrained belief and reinforcing the entire cycle.

If more wealthy people would be openly comfortable with themselves more of us might understand that it’s not about the money but about how we treat ourselves, and then we would expect less from being wealthy and take more responsibility now.

If you think this is cliché or overused, then I ask you: Are you still chasing money or are you happy where you are? Do you truly believe money will solve everything? If not, then why do you still try the same thing?

I know you understand that money is not the answer, but you have to act with that knowledge in mind and do not turn a blind eye to it.

Otherwise, even if you do become wealthy, you will have created a belief of wealth yourself that causes you to pressure yourself in everything you do.

Let go of the idea that money makes you happy entirely. Act based on how happy you are now for now. And, should you ever reach wealth, fame or success, you will treat it with far more freedom.

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” — Jim Carrey

Remember: Money only amplifies what is already there. It does not solve anything alone.

With more money you will not change. You’ll simply spend more on the things you are spending money on now and your character will only deepen in it’s characteristics.

That is all. Meaning that if you want something to change, do not wait for the money.

And if Socrates were alive today, I would hope that his quote would change to: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing and act accordingly, and that is that I know money changes nothing.”

Originally published at Quora.

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