Sudden Wealth Syndrome

I was watching the Daily Show tonight (hilarious, as always.) There was a filmed interview with a two therapists who named and treat a condition for our times: "Sudden Wealth Syndrome" - in other words, the psychological issues which particularly affect the newly rich.

Jason Jones was his usual snide and snarky self, and I personally found the interview rather offensive. I will grant that because of current politics, the wealthy seem like fair targets. It's hard to work up a lot of sympathy for some über-rich jerk. And I'm certainly not defending the behavior of much of the 1%...but that's neither here nor there.

This is a teaching moment.

The therapists were trying to make a point (and perhaps they would have made it, if Jason Jones hadn't been so terribly obnoxious.) That is: wealth does not buy happiness.

These clients were not born rich. They are ambitious strivers. They probably believed that if they just made X amount of money; if they just had enough bucks to buy Y or do Z, their lives would be complete. Happiness would simply descend upon them, forming a protective bubble, shielding them permanently from life's pain or moral responsibility. This is precisely the false fantasy that causes people to behave so badly as they chase their goals.

The world is full of people who pursue the wrong objectives in the mistaken belief that once they have attained them, their problems will vanish. In reality, neither possessions nor professional success nor attainment of finite end results, in and of themselves, will ever give a thinking person true happiness. Achieving one's goals might give one a sense of pride and confidence and control over one's life, and these are all necessary for personal development -- but here, it's not the goal itself that provides the satisfaction, but rather the journey.

If you chase money, power, goals your whole life and then acheive them, ultimately to discover these things don't make you happy, then what? Where do you go from there? You're at a dead end. This is where these "poor rich guys" have found themselves. I thought it was unfair to mock them. These are not trivial issues, but rather fundamental to the human condition. They want what everyone wants: to be happy. The question is, "how?"

Happiness can only be found in the appreciation of this moment; of being aware of our journey and all the steps along the way.. Nothing in the future is going to make you happy if you don't know how to be happy right here, right NOW.

Happiness is not a set of ideal conditions but rather a way of seeing the world.

Of course it's great to have money, security, love, good health, freedom from fear and worry, but in life, these things are transient and never guaranteed. If your emotional well-being depends upon them, that means the rug can be pulled out from under you at any moment. I don't deny that love or success or health or freedom add value to our lives, but true spiritual happiness comes from deep within the soul.

Nothing, added or taken away, can change that.

Maybe it's time you stopped chasing goals, regardless of what they are, and focused on what it means to be happy now . Instead of living your life obsessing about what you don't have or what you are not or what you have not been able to achieve, live your life in gratitude for what you do have and what you are and how far you have already come.





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