Why do so many rich people walk around with unhappy and glum faces?
Well, I don’t know about rich people who aren’t celebrities. Some are happy, some aren’t. But celebrities are a special shade of rich. They’re rich and famous, which is a big difference.
It’s like the old saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.” But the harsh reality is many people still think money, fame, and status will overwrite the stresses of being a celebrity. Being rich already leads to a certain distance from other people, a loneliness due to no longer having the same common problems as lower or middle-income people. But with celebrities, everything is magnified.
People are taught to constantly pay attention to celebrities, talk about them, judge them, place unwelcome expectations onto them. And the celebs themselves are in the business of encouraging that behavior. If they’re forgotten, they’ll likely lose their fortunes as well. That is a very unusual and stressful kind of life, where you make a living entirely on the attention and approval of the masses, without actually having any serious impact. It’s like being a politician who can’t vote on anything, but takes all the blame if something goes wrong.
But what about just rich people in general, not celebrities?
Generally, people who don’t have enough money to be called rich think that once they get lots of money, they’ll live happily ever after. But, in reality, many rich people are more stressed and unhappy than daily wagers living month to month.
Most rich people just want to get richer, either out of fear of loss, the urge to enter a higher-income crowd of even richer people, or just plain greed and obsession with numbers. It seems like the wish to be richer is never-ending. In the pursuit of wealth, people start overvaluing money and undervaluing the things it can’t buy. As a result, they start ignoring their family, friends, relations, health, etc. I won’t say they do it deliberately. But, it’s obvious to an outsider much more than to themselves. To earn more, in most cases, you have to work more, and while working more, you would have less time for other important elements of your life. People who constantly work to expand their income, but don’t use any of it to craft a more liberated lifestyle, grow richer, sure, but also increasingly isolated.
Another reason for isolation is that rich people and celebrities consider distancing from others a status symbol. Basically, they want to flaunt their wealth, and show they are different from other people. They can buy and do things other people never could. The reality, though, is that no one really cares that much about them. Consider rappers, and how much of their fame is based on presenting a lifestyle of extravagant spending. But only a tiny fraction of famous rappers stay famous for decades. There will always be someone newer and more interesting to take the spotlight, so unless they truly enjoyed doing those expensive things, what was it all for?
I want to be clear: it’s not the money itself that causes unhappiness. Becoming wealthy enough to live the life you want to life is one of the greatest achievements a human being can reach. Money is unfairly demonized by people who have settled in life, who do not have the courage to better themselves and increase their income. So they like to spread wise-sounding myths like that money is the root of evil. The reality is that money is a prime motivator in life, just like family, sex, food, or adventure. You can live your life motivated by these things without letting them rule you and dictate your emotions.
Other than the isolation, and distinction, another reason rich people often are unhappy is that their increased assets bring on more responsibility. Not just to preserve wealth either. Many individuals feel guilt after reaching a certain income level, and feel like they must give it all back somehow, but even giving to charity can be done in the wrong way, where it doesn’t leave any lasting satisfaction.
Well, this is a broad discussion. The way I see it, there are a million reasons to be unhappy, whether you are rich or poor. But there’s only one reason you need to be happy: because you choose to be happy. That’s it.
In the context of our discussion, I have an interesting article to share: The Homeless Millionaire: How Making Money Is Only Half the Battle. In that post, I explain how being a millionaire is no guarantee of happiness. In my view, it’s the emptiest goal anyone could have. That post can give more points to this answer. You can also explore the Knowledge Base section on my website for answers to questions relating to lifestyle, happiness, and money.
To sum up, having wealth is no guarantee of happiness. Rich celebrities and rich non-celebrities can still live a stressful and unfulfilled life, if they are neglecting other things that matter to them. To be happy, one should enjoy the minutest things in life, respect himself or herself, and remember what the money they strive for is actually meant to buy.
Please feel free to reply if you need clarification.