There is no relationship between material wealth and one’s happiness and status in the society. It is deplorable that people in the medium and lower class make themselves suffer an unnecessary amount of pressure to own something they cannot afford just to impress people they do not know in order to fit the level of society they do not belong to. The illusion is also expressed in the kind of jobs that people get involved in despite the continuous lack of job satisfaction. Finally, wealth perception is expressed in one’s behavior towards others since many people live in disguise of wealth while the same life is characterized by total struggle.
One can clearly say that wealth, status and happiness illusion is a major issue of concern among many people. However, the problem can be blamed on the manner in which children are raised. As children grow, their thinking is shaped by immediate environmental factors. In this instance, the immediate environment is the parents, elder siblings and the general neighborhood. Young kids are very conservative, and they incorporate most of what they observe to their thought systems. According to Lewis, as these children grow up, they get a society that is obsessed with wealth (56). In addition, they are brought up by people who have a misleading conception about wealth. These experiences create a certain mindset in children similar to that of the society. They not only get obsessed with wealth but also mislead about the true meaning of being wealthy.
Therefore, it can be concluded that both the obsession and the misconception about wealth are socially learnt. If people grew up in societies that have a different attitude, then they would perceive wealth differently. Today, there is a unique generation of people who can do anything to raise their status. Some even live beyond their financial means to appear wealthy. Some even sacrifice personal happiness to obtain wealth. The force behind this is the notion that wealth is all about material well-being. According to Lewis, many people learn the hard way when they pretend to be something they are not. This is obvious from his experiences while attempting to live life of the upper class (67).
The misconception about wealth has been perpetuated across many generations. In the past, people considered wealth to be physical materials. In this manner, people were compensated for the labor offered with material items such as food and other material goods. By this time, people never knew about money. As time went by, money was introduced as the main medium of measuring value (Zinchenko). No business could be conducted without it; with the rise of money, certain practices such as usury emerged. With such practices, the core definition and understanding of money and wealth became blurred. By now, wealth was no more considered in terms of the physical materials owned, but in terms of how much money one had. Consequently, there emerged a stiff competition between individuals as people tried to outdo others in the field of wealth.
With the appearance of money, people began to be more obsessed with it, and this led to a rapid diversification of the business activities. The main reason behind this diversification was to obtain as much money as possible. As a result, people began competing in the business sector, and they could compare each other to ascertain who was richer. The competition further increased the obsession of wealth.
When money acquired the abstract concept, people began undertaking various activities to increase the amount of money they had. Some focused on natural resources as a source of wealth. Today, some of these natural resources have been depleted by a few selfish individuals who only think about how they can have more wealth. These few individuals have set a certain standard on what they want to achieve wealth wisely. With this target, these people may cut down trees, dig quarries or use any other resource without thinking about the future. Some individuals can even grab land or sell land at higher prices to obtain wealth. They do not mind about the victims as long as they are getting money out of it. Some people have also gone to the extent of manipulating financial statements and data to get wealth (Atkinson, Harrison and Stack 44)
Therefore, the whole problem can best be described as wealth misconception. The misconception is in terms of “how much” money one has. The problem of how the money is acquired is not an issue. People can manipulate other people’s bank accounts to steal from them. People fake signatures to fake checks; they tell lies to get extra coins. In short, every person aims at climbing to the next economic level to be like others. It sounds crazy when some people sell disposable goods to get money; these may be foodstuffs that may be unhealthy. However, all this may not be so as long as they have a financial value. It may seem obscene, but these are the real things that are happening. Michael Lewis in his essay “The Mansion: A Subprime Parable” notes that problems arise during transition of an individual living in the lower class to the upper class. Inability to cope up with the upper class lifestyle forces an individual to flee back to the lower class (Lewis 86)
The illusion of wealth has made man totally unconscious on what is moral and what is immoral. Selling drugs to get money sounds immoral, but to some people, it sounds like a rich business opportunity. The concern for human well-being comes last and money first. Confiscating human body parts sounds obscene to many people, but not to those who are obsessed with wealth and economic status (Atkinson, Harrison and Stack 44). Some people may assumingly sell themselves to obtain wealth and climb the status ladder. Murder sounds like slaughtering a chicken since it has some monetary value attached to it. The conclusion is that uncontrolled desire for money kills the normal human conscious replacing it with a ‘crazy’ inhuman heart.
The reason why many people are employed in their particular jobs is not that they enjoy these jobs. Some would change them if they had an opportunity. However, some people even stick to stressing jobs because of money. That is the reason many employees remain demotivated regardless of the management’s efforts to motivate them. That also explains why some people are continuously unproductive despite the high level of skills. The problem is not the work or working environment (Atkinson, Harrison and Stack 44). The problem is not also the salary or the terms of work. The concern is that these persons are not working to obtain job satisfaction but to get money. However, their attitude would not change if their salary were tripled. The basic cause of their demoralization is lack of inner self-motivation, which is enhanced by job satisfaction. If all people did what they loved most, the managers would have a simple job since no one would be forced to work. In addition, nobody would be reporting to work late. The obscene behaviors noted among employees are caused by the obsession attached on wealth. One can force himself into a pathetic working environment to get money and handle multiple stressing jobs to get to a similar social class as friends.
The real picture is seen in the way people try to live. It is not clear on who said that wealth is defined by certain physical elements (Franklin 67). In the society today, people have a list of definitions on what a wealthy person looks like. Wealthy people are defined by the houses they have. It is surprising that people have to do anything to live in certain estates where wealthy people live. Some people may not even have the money to rent those houses, but they occupy these houses for prestige purposes. These people may do this to appear famous among the colleagues. They have to put up with the pressure of paying rent with the little salaries they get. Consequently, they may not have money to cater for other bills such as school fees and medical bills among others. The outcome is predictable since certain conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and unstable mental state are inevitable. The situation could be avoided if someone chose a low class house that is affordable. There is less stress and one can do extra things with the money saved (Emerson 49).
It is also amazing to see people who buy big cars that guzzle fuel instead of small, simple ones. The motivating factor is to get a ‘name’ among friends, colleagues or neighbors. These people believe that big cars are associated with wealth and high economic status. They may have raised economic status for a short instance, but it changes out to be stressful in the attempt to maintain the car (Franklin 46). In some cases, people may live in low class estates, but they drive big cars. It is true that they get a ‘name’ among the people, but they suffer from continuous stress. The situation becomes even worse when people take loans to purchase such big cars. The consequences are enormous given that the owner will be under pressure to fuel a car as well as repay the loan. The salary may be small, and the car would be maintained while other bills are being ignored.
Some people would even buy mansions rather than rent or buy small houses that are cheap. It does not make sense for someone to buy a ten-roomed house while he or she lives alone (Emerson 23).
Contrary to what many people think, material wealth does not guarantee happiness in life. It is evident across the world that many rich people are continuously sad. The current paper is not advocating for poverty, but it should be noted that happiness depends on an individual and not the material property (Emerson 14).
The desire to have material wealth is common among many people. In some instances, they are discontented with what they have to the extent that they can commit a crime to acquire something. Others move ahead, and though they get material gains, they live unhappy lives full of regret and guilt. The wealth they once longed for becomes the cause of their high blood pressure and other heart problems (Atkinson, Harrison and Stack 34). Finally, these people may die when they are very unhappy. In such a situation, wealth does not lead to happiness but constant misery.
Most people who are rich are mainly associated with pride and ignorance of the poor. In most instances, they live in gated and secluded homesteads. Their lives are characterized with individualism and isolation. They only care about the things that work in their favor. For some people, this can be fun, but for those who are in that situation, life is always a living hell. Their lives are always full of emptiness and solitude; most of them are constantly depressed and demoralized. The standard community discriminates them, and functions associated with them are always unattended. Finally, wealth creates more misery to them than joy. The contented people, who may not be as wealthy as they are, live better and more joyful lives.
Wealth is considered the main cause of instability among many families. While many standard people live in contentment and peace, many rich people suffer from constant family wrangles. The majority of the wealthy people are victims of sexual perversion and indulgence. As a result, husbands and wives are in constant conflict and fights. Most of these families end up in divorce and separation. The impacts are not only felt on the individual emotional state but also on children.
Most of the children born in rich families are also victims of indulgence. As these children grow up, they are introduced to the life where one gets what he or she wants. They are usually provided with excess cash at their disposure. They, therefore, look for all possible means through which they can spend the excess money (Emerson 6). Consequently, the majority of them end up abusing drugs and alcohol in the name of enjoyment. Others engage in sexual perversion, and they constantly collide with the law enforcers. These children are a source of shame and regret among parents. The parents are always unhappy as many issues associated with their children usually come up. Some parents even become victims of premature death due to the stress got from the children. It is surprising that those children born in standard or poor families are always disciplined and focused. While children from wealthy families cause shame to their parents, children from poor families bring joy and pride. Consequently, parents who constantly get anxiety from their children live miserable lives, while those who receive pride live dignified lives (Emerson 4).
Wealth brings in a new lifestyle in all aspects of life. The main change is in the field of diet. Previous research has illustrated that junk food is commonly associated with the rich people. While junk food appears sweet and readily available, its effects are evident. Most of these junk foods have cancerous substances that stimulate cancer and other health problems. Most of these people are victims of cancer as well as heart conditions. High blood pressure is inevitable among the wealthy since they eat junk fatty foods. Their children are prone to obesity, which is attributed to junk food. However, this is not common among the poor and standard families where junk food is unaffordable. These families always afford standard food and nothing excess. Consequently, diet-related diseases are rare among these people.
Finally, wealthy people are the main target of terrorists and thieves. While the poor and average people live in gateless communities, wealthy people live in gated and neighborhoods surrounded with electric fences. They are always in constant fear and insecurity. They always think of how someone is planning to steal what they have, which results in too many sleepless nights (Atkinson, Harrison and Stack 45).
Wealth obsession has made many people believe that real joy cannot be found without material possession. As a result, people do many things to be rich. Some steal, while others live beyond their means to appear wealthy. People live in expensive estates, drive big cars to appear rich among friends and colleagues; some do odd jobs to acquire wealth. However, obtaining it may be the beginning of other problems that may lead to lifetime misery.