All told, 10.4 million households in the U.S. have $1 million or more in investable assets, according to a 2017 study by investor research firm Spectrem Group. Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it?
You may want to reconsider those feelings of envy. Does the money really make life any more enjoyable? As Bill Gates once said, "A hamburger is still a hamburger, millions in your pocket or not." Read on for our roundup of reasons why you should feel perfectly content to live on Main Street.
1. Happiness can be bought — but most rich people aren't doing it right
Do you have enough money to eat, pay for health care, and make the rent? If so, you're off to a good start. Research shows that as long as your basic needs are met, you've got as much of a shot at living a joyful life as anybody else.
In fact, the relationship between money and happiness is surprisingly weak. A positive experience, such as working hard to attain a goal or falling in love, will make you happier than a new Porsche. Over time, the Porsche will rust, dent, and age. The car simply won't be as thrilling to drive as it was when you first bought it. But the memory of a first love or receiving a reward for your hard work won't as quickly deteriorate.
Indeed, money can be used to have more of the positive experiences that make us happy. But research shows that people who are well-to-do don't often spend their money this way.
2. Small delights bring more joy than big, expensive ones
A series of small, frequent treats — a pedicure, a day at the beach, a box of chocolate-covered strawberries — is more fulfilling than a big, blowout, annual gift to yourself. In this way, even millionaires are limited by their funds. If a millionaire wants their fortune to last, they can't spend it all at once. And if the goal is happiness, money should be spent in a way that brings constant delight, even if those delights come in smaller packages.
Remember: Eating an entire, 12-slice cake in one sitting is not 12 times more pleasurable than eating one slice at a time. Similarly, most people who play the lottery would prefer to win a $50 ticket and then another $75 ticket at a later date, rather than win a one-time lump sum of $125. So, even if you can afford to treat yourself to one big present, you'd be wiser — and happier — to gift yourself a series of small ones instead.
3. Anticipation promotes happiness
If you're rich enough to buy yourself every new gadget the moment it hits the market, you're robbing yourself of anticipation — that feeling of yearning and desire which delivers a more intense feeling of happiness when we finally attain the thing from which we've been deprived.
The pleasure that arises from immediate consumption simply doesn't match the staying power of the happiness we feel when we get something we've been yearning for. Here's an example from researchers who study happiness: People often derive the most joy from talking about and looking forward to a vacation than the actual experience of the vacation itself.
4. A fancy vacation might sound like bliss, but it can often bring problems
The Notorious B.I.G. said it best: Mo' money, mo' problems. Here's another way to think about it: People buy big ticket items expecting one thing, but often they get something else. Let's take a yacht, for example. Warm sun, deep ocean swims, navigating through foreign seas — what could be bad about owning a 200-foot yacht?
Well, what about the huge, hidden price tags — such as the cost of storage and maintenance? What about mosquito bites, and stormy seas, and engine glitches, and that fear of sharks you never knew you had until you bought the darn thing?
Consider how it might feel to have a yacht on which to sail around the world, but you can't find a willing companion to join you for the tour. Because, you know, some people have to work. But not you! You're rich and you've got a yacht — and now you have a whole new set of troubles to worry about. Happiness is in the details, but it's easy to get caught up in the illusion.
5. Rich people tend to spend more time working
Our happiness is largely determined by how we spend our time. As a person's income rises, they typically begin to devote more time to working, running errands, and shopping. These activities are known to drive stress and anxiety — not happiness.
More than anything else, it's leisure time that breeds happiness. But, of course, it's a balance. If we're not working enough, we often find ourselves right back in the throes of stress and anxiety. "Am I spending my time in a way that's worthwhile? What's the meaning of all this stuff?" Striking a balance between work and play is important whether you're a millionaire or not.
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