If you dream of new BMWs, private jets and five-star resorts, stop now. The research is in, and it shows that rather than making you happier, getting rich just makes you more likely to hurt other people, become greedier and generally turn into a more evil human being.
Not all rich people are monsters, of course, but there are more wealthy sociopaths out there than poor ones. UC Berkley conducted a study on the behaviors of the upper class, and found that they were more likely to plow through crosswalks with pedestrians present, took twice as much candy from a bowl meant for children and even cheated four times as much as poorer people while playing dice for a $50 pot—a pittance compared to their salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even in rigged games of Monopoly, players with the largest cache of fake money grew meaner and stingier. And liberals were just as ruthless as their conservative counterparts.
So is all of that money worth turning evil for? Probably not, according to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. Although people with enough money to live comfortably are understandably happier than poorer folk—hey, it’s hard to be joyful when you’re stomach’s growling—more money does not translate to increased happiness.
Rather, people in the richest nations are more prone to obesity and other diseases of affluence, and always have a craving for something more so they never feel satisfied. We can thank consumer and advertising culture for that one. Not only does acquiring more “stuff” fail to increase happiness, but it causes far more environmental damage than living modestly.
So the next time you start to feel envious of the Armani-clad elitist revving up his Ferrari outside of his exclusive, gated community, think twice. You’re better off on the lower side of the income scale.
image: B Rosen