A couple of weeks ago I posed the question, "What Would You Do With $25 Million?" There weren't any comments here but the question got posted to a forum by someone else which led to some interesting answers there and on Twitter and Facebook
Most people said they would use it to try and make positive changes in the world. They'd keep some so they didn't have to worry about tomorrow's house payment or education for their kids. But, for the most part their answers were altruistic and their plans for making a difference were elaborate.
That got me to thinking about the wealthy who do have that kind of money and even more. I know a number of them and all but a couple continually obsess over something (currently the economy) that leads to them not being happy.
According to a New York Times business section article in September 2004 at the pinnacle of the stock market, 23 percent of brokers and traders at the seven largest Wall Street firms suffered from depression. That was three times the national average. They were among the most affluent in the country.
In his brilliant book, "Life, Inc." Douglas Rushkoff cites reports by scientists and sociologists that "have concluded that affluence produces rapidly diminishing returns on happiness.
Rushkoff goes on to say that people say they want two things and these two things have been repeated over and over again.
- They want to belong to a group, a tribe, a community.
- They want to make a difference.
Could having these two things be the real definition of affluence? I believe they are. We've been led to believe that working hard and striving for more was the American Dream. I think it was a lie and as a result we've lost the connections we once had to our tribe and our community. We spend our days working at jobs we often hate and our nights isolated and locked in our castles with no authentic, social connections.
We can change things. We can reinvent our selves. We don't have to worship consumerism. And, we don't have to go through life alone. In fact, by accomplishing number 1 above we will more readily be able to accomplish number 2 and make a difference.
The truth is that it might be the only way. Let's talk about this.