How Much is Enough?

Do you ever think to yourself, if I just make "this" much more money, or move into "this or that" position or opportunity, I will be content?

You are not alone ... so do the wealthiest 1% in the world, according to a groundbreaking article The Secret Fears of the Super-Rich taken from The Atlantic:

"Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.The respondents’ average net worth is $78 million, and two report being billionaires. The goal, say the survey’s architects, was to weed out all but those at or approaching complete financial security. Most of the survey’s respondents are wealthy enough to ensure that in any catastrophe short of Armageddon, they will still be dining on Chateaubriand while the rest of us are spit-roasting rats over trash-can fires.

The results of the study are not yet public, but The Atlantic was granted access to portions of the research, provided the anonymity of the subjects was strictly maintained. The center expects to present the full conclusions gradually at upcoming conferences and to publish them over the next several months. The study is titled “The Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth,” but given that the joys tend to be self-evident, it focuses primarily on the dilemmas. The respondents turn out to be a generally dissatisfied lot, whose money has contributed to deep anxieties involving love, work, and family. Indeed, they are frequently dissatisfied even with their sizable fortunes. Most of them still do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess. (Remember: this is a population with assets in the tens of millions of dollars and above.) One respondent, the heir to an enormous fortune, says that what matters most to him is his Christianity, and that his greatest aspiration is “to love the Lord, my family, and my friends.” He also reports that he wouldn’t feel financially secure until he had $1 billion in the bank.

Such complaints sound, on their face, preposterous. But just as the human body didn’t evolve to deal well with today’s easy access to abundant fat and sugars, and will crave an extra cheeseburger when it shouldn’t, the human mind, apparently, didn’t evolve to deal with excess money, and will desire more long after wealth has become a burden rather than a comfort. A vast body of psychological evidence shows that the pleasures of consumption wear off through time and depend heavily on one’s frame of reference. Most of us, for instance, occasionally spoil ourselves with outbursts of deliberate and perhaps excessive consumption: a fancy spa treatment, dinner at an expensive restaurant, a shopping spree. In the case of the very wealthy, such forms of consumption can become so commonplace as to lose all psychological benefit: constant luxury is, in a sense, no luxury at all."

It's shocking to think that some people need $50,000 to feel secure in life, while others need $1 billion, while still others need simply $2 a day ... the only conclusion we can derive is we are all subject to our human condition, and that we will never, ever feel content unless we choose to:

This whole idea brings fresh perspective to the importance of trusting God in our lives, and generosity to His Kingdom for deep, surprising fulfillment.