The truth about wealth and happiness is more complicated than any study can say. An example is Evan Spiegel, the 25 year old CEO of Snapchat. In 2013, it was reported that Spiegel turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. When people read these reports, they thought Spiegel was crazy. But here’s the thing. Spiegel comes from a wealthy family. His dad lives in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. Also, Spiegel was able to sell some of his stock in Snapchat to investors for millions of dollars.
So the fact is, when he turned down Facebook’s $3 billion offer, Spiegel was not saying “no” to being rich. He was already rich twice over. And what did that money — his father’s and his own — buy him? It bought him a relatively risk-free chance to spend the rest of his life running a global technology company. It bought him a pursuit. Having a pursuit that means something to you is not the same thing as having happiness, but it’s something like it that can’t quite be quantified in a study.
Obviously, the topic of wealth and its relationship to happiness is complicated and conversations about it are laced with judgement. And that’s why it so fascinating to read a thread they have on Quora where rich people are answering the question: What does it feel like to be finically rich?
Here are some of the most candid thoughts from the thread. Some of them are heart-warming. Some are brutally honest. Some are very surprising.
“I don’t believe very much in the hedonics argument about wealth – that the more you have, the more money you need to maintain a certain level of happiness. Happiness has mostly to do with relationships and the quality thereof. I doubt that it’s a metric that can be measured effectively by economists to come to a conclusion.” — J.C. Hewitt
“I thought, if I could make 10 million dollars then it must be too easy. In fact, I honestly thought, everyone else had probably already made 11 million dollars. So then I felt poor again. I now needed 100 million dollars to be happy.” — James Altucher
“Rich people are prone to all the same maladies and emotions as anyone else, and at the same frequency. And certainly, in some cases, money itself can cause stress and unhappiness. But, with one difference — if you’re unhappy and rich, you have money. And money buys creature comforts.” — Steven Kane