When Goldman Sachs announced that their staff would receive multi million pound bonuses this Christmas, people countrywide felt overwhelmed with pangs of envy and anger. Why were they not in that position? Why is it that only the rarefied few can live life without financial worry, how happy they must be?
Two issues immediately arise from this total misconception, namely:-
1. Money does not buy you happiness.
2. Never look at what others have or do, because you never know the full story.
I say this after years of experience in dealing with the unhappiness of the wealthy in their relationships and lives generally. I can say without hesitation that I have yet to meet a stonkingly rich person who was actually happy.
One only has to look at the fact that Roman Abramovitch, seemingly one of the world?s richest man, recently checked himself into a clinic for stress and misery. So what is it that most of us would perceive as the answer to our dreams, that in reality turns into a nightmare. I believe that I have some answers.
Many rich people who inherit, feel burdened by the wealth that they have. Those with huge homes face massive taxes and constantly bemoan that they cannot live the lifestyles they desire because of such constraints. Even quasi-royals have been put in this position.
The road to success may be paved with gold and can be heady and exciting but those who have ‘arrived’, often face a genuine feeling of deflation and lack of goals once they have done so. This in turn imbues them with an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction. Some look around to try and reproduce that feeling of elated success only to fail miserably in new ventures outside their own expertise. How often have we seen the rich fall.
People who attain power inevitably want more. Success and power are very strong aphrodisiacs leaving some with the inability to enjoy what they have in a quest to attain more.
Those who have struggled through life from the depths of poverty to the headiness of the pinnacle wealth most often wish to disassociate themselves from their beginnings, thus leaving themselves isolated from friends and family who would in the main have given them grounding to enjoy their wealth. How often do we hear of the rich celebrities who fall from grace, addicted to drugs/alcohol, and complain about feeling utterly alone.
I have acted in many cases for the wealthy. Their relationships are constantly under strain in many different ways. People do not appreciate how unnervingly awful it can be to be the wife of a powerful and wealthy man. They can never let their guard down in the looks department or feel totally without fear that the man might be a target from a younger opportunist woman who cannot wait to take their place.
Many rich middle aged women instead of enjoying their wealth live in a perpetual state of worry, botoxing themselves endlessly and having their bits constantly reshaped in the hope that they can retain their husband?s attention. Many cannot conceive of eating more than a lettuce leaf pushed around their plate during what others might envy as ‘women who lunch’. They do not lunch, so much as starve in a fancy setting.
For people like Victoria Beckham, there is an endless task of looking thin and beautiful on a daily basis. To do this is a fulltime job in which she constantly finds herself derided by the media for so doing. What an utterly exhausting and unrewarding way of life when to have fun with her family and friends without putting on a public show would bring her so much more pleasure.
Whilst others may believe that it must be wonderful to keep up with the Jones’s or Abramovitch’s, the reality is that it is a permanent headache to be one step ahead of your contemporaries whether it is in relation to clothes, bags, cars or yachts.
Others might envy the enormous financial settlements currently being given to divorcing wives. I can, however, confirm that in many cases the receipt of £50million is no compensation for the loss of future companionship, love and affection. Prada, Lowe and Fendi may be good but they are not that good and no replacement for love.
These women, living in their ivory towers, counting endless pots of money can only look down and wish that they had the ordinary love, happiness and an inner calm.
I am also aware from the many cases in which I have acted of the enormous pressure on wealthy men to keep up appearances themselves. Many who have chosen to trade in an ‘older model’ for a younger one, find themselves utterly exhausted in having to live a lifestyle that is simply not commensurate with their age.
How they long to sit in front of the television and have a simple life, instead of which they find themselves in their sixties whizzing around night clubs, having to perform the sexual virility that is utterly exhausting for them. Many who have changed their lifestyle in this way wonder what on earth they have done and secretly long for peace and tranquillity.
So what does bring real wealth and riches today? After much research into the mega-rich, I believe that ‘time’ is the new wealth. The ability to enjoy the fruits of your hard work seems to be the source of happiness today, with so few able to do so.
With the advent of computers, faxes and emails most of us find the pace of life and work like a hurtling express train on a never-ending journey. What most of us yearn for is some time and tranquillity, the ability to spend time with those that can make us laugh and feel the richness of life itself.
How many long for the ability to take a walk without the mobile ringing or the blackberry vibrating. The ability to read a book without interruption, to relax enough to watch a programme all the way through. To catch up with old friends and not to have to dress up to impress.
So with Christmas nearly upon us, don?t envy the rich, feel sorry for them and look to your own life and how you and your friends and family can put back into your life what really matters.
Consumerism is a drug but, like all drugs, only brings temporary comfort. What brings long term happiness are happy relationships and the ability to be comfortable with yourself. Money can bring a more comfortable misery, but time and contentment is the only route to real happiness.