It’s actually better to not be too wealthy.
It’s better to be middle class, and if that sounds crazy to you, let me explain. So three, different levels, right? You got poverty, I don’t think that’s a good situation to be in, if you’re born into poverty, obviously, there are a lot of obstacles in your way, it doesn’t offer nearly as many opportunities and there’s a lot more disadvantages, if you’re born or live in poverty. If you’re in the middle-class, I would argue that that is the best place to be and if you are born into a lot of wealth, there are actually a lot of problems there that you don’t face in the middle class, and I think the upside doesn’t actually outweigh those downsides. Now, I’m sure that you have some friends who are wealthy, or you know some people in school, or in your class, or some colleagues, or people on social media or whatever, you know, some wealthy people, and initially on the surface level, they may seem very happy, they may seem to have it all, oh my god, you know, his dad bought him a new Porsche and she got a new, you know, whatever, the thing is, when you actually talk to a lot of people that come from wealthy backgrounds, on average, they’re not any happier, in fact, they have bigger problems usually, or at least very different problems than what you and I would face.
So there’s two common situations, first, you got the trust fund babies, and this is where, essentially, the person doesn’t need to work for the rest of their life, their family, there’s this family wealth that they’re going to inherit and they’re taken care of, they don’t need to work at all, and I know some people like this. It sounds great initially, but there are some problems. So first of all, you’re gonna face that existential crisis much sooner than anyone else, and dealing with that, when you’re pretty young, is challenging. This is why you see a lot of people who are born into wealthy families, getting involved in like drugs and other not-so-good things, because it’s harder to find meaning and purpose in their life. So someone like me, I got to find a job, I got to work, and medicine was my calling, and I mean, we respond to incentives as humans, so if I was a trust fund baby, would I still have the drive and the push to go through like, to work really hard as a premed, and then, work really hard in med school and then matched into plastic surgery and do all that? I don’t know, I mean, if I knew that I could just like, coast and chill and still be taken care of, maybe I wouldn’t have the same level of drive. So I would argue that if you are born into a lot of wealth, it’s harder to be as ambitious, as driven and to find purpose and meaning in your work, you’re kind of forced to find that elsewhere, and that’s more challenging.
Now, the second situation is a family business. So let’s say your mom or dad started this wildly successful family business and now, as you’re getting older, you have the choice. Do you take over the family business or do you not? If you take over the family business, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Your family is happy that you’re going to make good money, your family is going to be taken care of, your kids, et cetera and you don’t really have a choice, because if you say no to the family business, then, you’re going to be disowned, your parents aren’t going to be happy with you, they’re going to be pretty upset and chances are, you probably won’t make as much money, you won’t be as comfortable. So what a lot of people do in that situation, is they feel forced to take over the family business. Oh, boo-hoo, you had to inherit your dad’s 2 million per year business or whatever it is, it sounds great, but what if you really wanted to be an artist? Or you wanted to be an actor? Or you want to be a doctor even? Those options become much less appealing when you have the proposition of a business that maybe you don’t enjoy, but it’s a lot safer, it’s going to pay better, etcetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So if you are born middle class, I would argue you have this opportunity to light that fire under your own butt and make something meaningful. And here’s the thing, people talk about money and happiness and if there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s when people talk about that one study, the $75,000 per year income is the plateau for happiness. Turns out, net worth is a better measure than income, obviously. And there were two interesting findings that came out of a recent net worth study, and the main one I want to highlight, is that being self-made resulted in higher average levels of life satisfaction and happiness compared to a windfall. So if you win the lottery or inherit a lot of money, you’re going to be happier if you earn that and that kind of makes sense when you think about it.
The reason I’m writing this article, is because it’s so easy for us to get caught up in these victim mentalities, these victim mindsets, where we see how life is unfair, where we see how, you know, this other person has it easier and why is my life so hard? And this sucks. But when we actually stop and think about it, it becomes really clear how lucky we are. Even something as simple, as not being born into massive wealth, I think that actually an advantage, at least that’s the story I tell myself, it helps me sleep at night and it makes me happier, but when we stop to actually think about how awesome our lives are, so I just finished a 48-hour fast, and I ate that first bite of food and it was so satisfying and I’m so grateful to be able to eat the foods I can eat, especially after Crohn’s disease when I had to be so restrictive, and at times, I still need to be restrictive when I’m flaring, just being able to eat good food, oh my god, it’s such a joy, sucha pleasure, you know? Not being born into massive wealth, that’s actually an advantage, I feel so much more driven and like motivated and like, I’m going to do something big with my life and I don’t know if I would have that if I was born into wealth. And here’s the cool thing, whether or not you believe my arguments, that doesn’t really matter, at the end of the day you get to decide your own narrative, your own story, your own beliefs, but you alone decide whether or not those beliefs serve you or not, and obviously, this belief, that I am better off by being born middle class and working my ass off and working six months in the library in 11th grade so I could buy my first laptop, I think that story serves me and at the end of the day, only you will decide what story you take. So you can choose to be a victim and say, you know what? Life’s unfair. Or you can take ownership. What’s it gonna be?