“I was happier when I was not a billionaire”
Those were the words of a 21st century billionaire
As I scrolled down my Facebook page, I was able ‘to-not’ resist an attempt to think (analytically) about that sentence. Here is the product – a 400 and something words exegesis.
First, the statement doesn’t deviate from what we know about the hedonic psychology – when we seek happiness solely from an extraneous source (material things outside of the mind), you enjoy a happiness surge (when, say, a feat is accomplished) however, it levels back – very quickly.
To internalize the idea, consider this: I will assume you have had a major accomplishment you got ecstatic about in the last few years. (It doesn’t have to be becoming a Billionaire. In fact, the probability that a billionaire is reading this is way less than 1 millionth of 25)
From a scale of 1 to 10, how will you evaluate your happiness, years before the accomplishment?
During the period of the accomplishment?
And, finally, month/years after the accomplishment? Be honest.
Marriage, or getting your dream car could be an archetype of such accomplishments.
Take a sheet of paper, draw a graph of happiness against time. I would be very surprised if I don’t see an inverted U curve. With only an exception: if you are nonhuman.
Two, the statement doesn’t deviate (again) from what we know about a popular stoic philosophy and the prospect theory – we are terribly loss averse. To customize the last sentence, simply ask yourself “how will I feel if I get demoted at work or lose 10% of my money” … Bingo! There you go.
Nassim Taleb put it aptly “when you become rich, the pain of losing your fortune exceeds the emotional gain of getting additional wealth, so you start living under continuous emotional threat”.
In fact, Seneca advised practicing poverty “There is a noble manner of being poor, and who does not know it will never be rich.”
To cap my argument, our savior, Jesus Christ has very much intimated these philosophies and theories during his conversation with the rich man (Mark 10:17-31) I will argue compassion and affection to others are the *real* source of happiness. Because they extricate all forms of negative emotion: jealousy, anger, hatred, and fear, which in actual fact, are responsible for our unhappiness.
No wonder the (adequately) inundating messages by Jesus Christ about love.
Again, negative state of mind like hatred, anger and fear are obstructions that stop us from achieving our happy state. Positive mindset ushers *LASTING happiness NOT (necessarily) Ferrari (or a million dollar). Enduring happiness can only be achieved via the practice of genuine love and compassion.