Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Being rich is not enough to solve all your problems

Some issues in life cannot be fixed no matter how much money you throw at them

There are several steps to take to achieve true happiness and being wealthy is not one of them. Getty Images
There are several steps to take to achieve true happiness and being wealthy is not one of them. Getty Images

Having money can be great. Just looking at people sailing by on a yacht as you sit on the beach or accelerating past in a sports car along Sheikh Zayed Road can make us feel envious. Here in the UAE, we are surrounded by those who appear to have a lot of disposable cash to play around with.

Just because you have money, it doesn't mean you have found a job you love or know what you want out of life.

Zach Holz

On the surface, it's easy to wish you had what they have. They will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or how they'll pay the rent this month. Their biggest decision is if they will head to Paris or the Maldives for their next holiday. Or at least that's what we like to project on them. To an extent, it's true. Money can give people choices and experiences that others simply don't have access to.

However, it all gets a little more complicated when we examine issues affecting the modern world, because money can't solve everything. Some of you may be reading this and thinking, "So what? I would kill to have a rich person's problems!" But there are some issues that cannot be fixed, no matter how much money you throw at them.

Problems money cannot solve easily

Being obese

Developed and wealthier countries often have higher rates of obesity. Just because you are wealthy does not mean your lifestyle habits or weight can be controlled any better.

Divorce or family drama

This happens no matter how much money you have, and wealth can make those conflicts even more complicated than they already are.

Not being able to sleep

Your racing thoughts or back pain don't care about your bank balance. They will still wake you up at night.

Knowing what your purpose is

Just because you have money, it doesn't mean you have found a job you love or know what you want out of life.

Boredom

It seems like the more wealth people have, the less they find exciting and interesting.

Traffic jams on your commute

Both the Ferrari and the Honda get stuck in the great equaliser of the traffic jam.

Health issues

Whether you have cancer or heart disease or mental health issues such as schizophrenia or Borderline Personality Disorder, you will still be affected no matter how much you earn.

Problems that worsen the richer you are

Knowing if your friends or family actually like you

The more money people have, the more they tend to look over their shoulders in suspicion. Are the people around them there because they love them as a person? Or just because they pay the rent?

Caring for your possessions

The more expensive something is, the pricier it is to maintain it or insure it. For example, a Bugatti Veyron's oil change costs Dh70,000, according to the chief executive of Royalty Exotic Cars in Las Vegas.

Using your creativity

Being wealthy can stop someone from developing their creativity or resourcefulness because in most scenarios, they can just pay someone to make a problem go away.

This column is not designed to make you pity the rich, far from it. It actually points us to common challenges we all need to overcome, no matter how many assets we own or how much debt we owe. As American psychologist Abraham Maslow showed in his groundbreaking Hierarchy of Needs, a 1943 psychological motivational theory featuring a five-tier model of human needs, the path to true happiness has many steps.

Having money may help with the first two steps at the bottom, physiological needs and safety needs, but there are five levels above those (belonging and love, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic and self-actualisation) that must be resolved before the highest level of "transcendence" is reached. Great spiritual teachers have long preached that it does not take money to be free of suffering, and that wealth can indeed be a hindrance in the process.

All of us, no matter our socio-economic status, have to work hard to climb the ladder of needs. Money only helps us boost up one or two steps. The rest, we all have to do, no matter how much cash we have in the bank.

Dubai schoolteacher Zach Holz (@HappiestTeach) documents his journey towards financial independence on his personal finance blog The Happiest Teacher

Updated: November 14, 2019 08:31 PM

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