Psychologist Charles Richards probes the unconscious ideas and patterns of thought in attitudes about money in his book The Psychology of Wealth (2012). Wealth should enable a positive mindset, supporting a deep appreciation and enjoyment of life. Happy people serve a higher cause or principle beyond the mere accumulation of assets and selfishness. A healthy attitude towards wealth, according to Dr. Richards, includes proficiency, creativity, discernment and generosity. A positive wealth attitude is empowering to the wealth owner and everyone around him. But there is a cold and dark side to wealth. It’s miserly, abusive, arrogant, self-serving, indulgent and disempowering. The dark side is driven by greed, fear and insecurity.
There are an awful lot of very wealthy jerks out there who are unhappy and mean no matter how rich they get. They live with a perpetual internal sense of lack and desperation. Even though they have plenty of money, they are missing the key ingredient to positive wealth psychology – self-confidence. A successful household is well informed and secure about their financial position; while a miserly rich person is more concerned about beating and impressing everyone else.
No matter how much wealth they accumulate, there are miserable millionaires who feel resources are limited, so assets must be aggressively guarded and jealously protected. They can never have enough money. Driven by fear and greed, life is reduced to a sad imperative: “I must get and protect mine before others do”. It’s true that we must work hard to accumulate and protect wealth but it must always be from the perspective of a greater, nobler cause, which is warmer and brighter than dark greed. A negative wealth mentality is unpleasantly sad and dim. Be happy and let the sunshine in your Estate Planning War Chest so it’s not so cold and dark in there.