(v) Myth: People respect wealthy people.

‘Mr Bashful, I’m wealthy, and people respect me because of it. That makes me happy.’

There is a chance they respect your money, not you. If they do respect you, it’s more likely because of your achievements, not your money.

And even if they do respect you for your wealth, it’s not respect, it’s envy. Given half a chance they’d swap places with you. Is that the sort of respect you want?

Or maybe it’s the power you enjoy over people? When people respect you for the power you have, it isn’t respect, it’s fear. So you need to ask yourself, why do you want people to fear you? And then the question becomes: why do you fear people?

Instead, how about gaining people’s respect (not fear) by your actions and by your words? Not by the thickness of your wallet. You can do that by being rich or poor.

Q. ‘Being rich I don’t have to worry about people disapproving of me. I can relax and be myself.’
But we only discover ourselves, and grow, when people can be honest with us, and feel safe telling us our shortcomings. Their disapproval can be a handy moderator. If we didn’t care what other people thought of us we could end up insensitive, self indulgent, eccentric and isolated. It’s normal and healthy to have to deal with what people think of us. It only becomes a problem when we fear what people think and moderate our behaviour to please them. Making yourself rich to avoid that fear seems silly. If we fear people’s disapproval so much that we need to be rich to avoid it, we’re hiding from a problem. A far better strategy is to get to know ourselves, and trust ourselves, and learn to deal with the pain of disapproval.

Anyway, if people accept what you say simply because you are rich, their view is tainted. It’s suspect. Further, their compliments might be too tempting to disregard, which means you have set yourself a trap.

The real freedom is to be yourself irrespective of how much, or how little, money you have.

In short, if you think being rich will encourage people to respect you, then you have a few questions to ask of yourself.

For more reasons why money doesn’t make us happy, click here.

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