I’m sure that by now, all of you have heard the news that Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, bought a baby yacht to keep his big yacht company. The story is that he could not fit a helicopter landing pad on his regular yacht which is longer than a football field so he needed a baby yacht for his helicopter. Don’t be fooled. I think I know the real story here because I lived through this. Mr. Bezos’ significant other told him that his big yacht was lonely and having a baby yacht to keep it company would increase everyone’s happiness. This is exactly how I ended up with a puppy, Hope, a year ago. I was told that Harvey, our five-year-old Golden Retriever, would be much happier with a companion. Harvey’s look now tells a different story. It says “what were you thinking?”
All joking aside, many do have concerns about how the increasing wealth gap between rich and poor will impact our society. I don’t begrudge Mr. Bezos spending his money however he wants to but the fascination in the news about this expenditure does tell us something about how people view wealth. I think that there are many people who believe that the accumulation of wealth or things can lead to higher levels of happiness and fulfillment for them. My observations tell me that this is not always true. In 2010, Princeton University conducted a study led by economist, Angus Deacon, and psychologist, Daniel Kahnemann. As reported in an article on wealth and happiness in Time Magazine, the study concluded that “no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.”
Anecdotally, we see in our practice that for many people, as they age, they seek a simpler existence. In the movie Field of Dreams from 1989, James Earl Jones as the writer Terrance Mann said that “for it is money they have but peace they lack.” For many people I meet, I could say that it is money they have but time they lack. Whether it is accumulating money, things or something else, we should all take the time to actually figure out what we want and try to determine whether getting it will bring us the joy that we anticipated.
This week’s selection is:
On Being with Krista Tippett
A Peabody Award-winning public radio show and podcast. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives.