“It is wrong to assume that men of immense wealth are always happy.” – John D. Rockefeller
Many people think that money is the answer to a greater assurance of security and well-being. But is this always true?
There is a widespread perception that people who enjoy financial comfort are happier than others, but this is not always the case. There is evidence to show that external achievements can create both positive and negative feelings for individuals and families, as successful people are not sheltered from the hurt and pain of life, such as health issues, relationship problems or loss and grief. Moreover, many successful people find that their status creates other problems – both social and emotional – which few understand or empathize with. Not only are they generally too embarrassed to recognize the challenges that they encounter, but they also suffer a double stigma since money or wealth is supposed to make them happier!
As one of Dr. Lami’s clients once said:
“Growing up in a wealthy family, we were taught not to talk about money and society expects us not to have problems or challenges because we have money. This is so untrue. We have the same emotions and feelings like everyone else. We get hurt, we grief, and we have our own relationship issues. However, it is more difficult to admit to ourselves that we have difficulties because of all the money we have. But people, regardless of how much they have, share the same desires and have the same personal and emotional challenges, and it has nothing to do with one’s wealth.”
Money, therefore, is not the answer to all of our life’s experiences, since it cannot replace our innate desire for love, appreciation, acceptance and growth.
There is no shortage of people who can advise on investments or ways to save money. However, as the needs of successful individuals have become more complex, financial advisors have been challenged to adjust their services in order to satisfy those needs. As a result, some financial advisors have started to take a “therapeutic” approach to financial planning. They have recognized the importance of not only providing clients with sound financial advice, but also having a professional on hand to help them understand their relationship with money and how their feelings and beliefs about it influence their financial decisions.
Case in point, 17 years ago I was approached by the CEO of a well-established financial firm in London to develop and head their wealth psychology advisory practice to help their private clients deal with life challenges associated with their financial status. The practice was set up to help the firm’s clients understand their relationship with money and wealth and how it affects their well-being, personal relationships, marriage, parenting, wealth transfer, estate planning and more.
Offering consulting and counseling services regarding the emotional complexities surrounding money and wealth to clients at the financial firm in London (and later on in my own private practice in Beverly Hills), it became apparent that many successful and intelligent people – who have almost everything money can buy – experience unfulfilling personal relationships, challenges with their partner or children, and/or a sense of anxiety, stress, emptiness or inner dissatisfaction, but are not able to explain why.
Without their conscious awareness, money had not only impacted various aspects of their personal and professional lives and their relationships with family and friends, but also compromised their physical, mental or emotional well-being. It was clear that many highly accomplished people experienced challenges caused by their success.
As our society is increasingly affected by the exponential increase in choices and opportunities available to make money, and thus by the many illusions and inaccuracies regarding money and wealth, it is important to learn and understand the impact that money has on our state of mind and our overall well-being.
In the face of our fast-changing world, understanding our relationship with money, success or achievements and how it affects our happiness is key in maintaining our emotional, mental and physical health as well as our peace of mind.
“For a successful entrepreneur it can mean extreme wealth. But with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference.” – Richard Branson