Wealth Inequality and Happiness

Dec 24, 2021
Wealth Inequality and Happiness
One of the pressing national concerns is wealth inequality. The rich keep getting richer, furthering the divide. But it’s all relative. Americans complaining about the 1% seem to forget that they are likely in the top 1% of the world. The lifestyles of families living paycheck to paycheck are enviable to those in 3rd world countries.
Compared to the rest of history, even poor families are living in the top 0.0001% or so of all humans who have ever lived, when comparing conveniences of life. The poverty baseline has constantly been rising through the centuries. But the thing is, people often base their happiness on those around them, those they can see. It doesn’t matter if you’re living like a king compared to a common slave from a millennium ago. People look at those richer than them and see what they don’t have, but want.
But being rich doesn’t guarantee happiness. In fact, those who have more also have more to lose. The constant fear when you have much to lose can gnaw at the ability to be happy. If money becomes a goal rather than a means, then it’s easy to get stuck in the numbers game of trying to accumulate more and more. When fulfillment is based on meeting the next wealth goal, upon reaching it, there’s nothing more to strive for, unless the goal is set higher. But again, there’s always the fear of losing it, as other people see what you have and try to take a cut.
Money doesn’t make you happy. But it’s hard to be happy without it. Too much isn’t helpful either. There’s a sweet spot of living a happy life without being poor or super rich.
How much is enough money? ...is probably the wrong question. It depends on living costs of the area you live, inflation, taxes, etc. A better question might be: how to be happy regardless of money?
But the thing about happiness is, there’s a baseline. You might be thrilled with a new experience or a new item, but you’ll eventually get used to it. Your happiness level returns to a normal.
The biggest question I have is: instead of looking up and envying those who have what I don’t have, what responsibility do I have towards those who aren’t as fortunate as me? As of right now, if I were to do anything about them, I would be giving out of some kind of guilt rather than goodness out of my heart. I’m more focused on earning income with the goal of being a millionaire. But once I reach that, will I stop and use it for the greater good, or start striving to be a multi-millionaire?
I still haven’t found an answer for If money wasn't an issue, how would you live?