What drives people, once they’ve reached that point, to keep pursuing more?
Research regularly points to two central questions that people ask themselves when determining whether they’re satisfied with something in their life: Am I doing better than I was before? and Am I doing better than other people? This applies to wealth, but also to attractiveness, height, and other things that people fret about.
“But the problem is,” Norton says, “a lot of the things that really matter in life are hard to measure. So if you wanted to be a good parent, it’s a little hard to know if you’re being a better parent now than you were a year ago, and it’s also hard to know if you’re a better parent than the neighbors.”
This instinct to measure and compare doesn’t disappear once people have an obscene amount of money. “The problem is, Am I doing better than I was? is only [moving people in] one direction, which is up,” Norton says. And if a family amasses, say, $50 million but upgrades to a neighborhood where everyone has that much money (or more), they feel a lot less rich than if they had stuck to the peer comparisons they were making tens of millions of dollars ago. Hence the ever-shifting goalposts of wealth and satisfaction.
SO CHILL OUT…You have it all already, now receive it.