Poor little rich boys (and girls)

When I was a kid, in the days before video games, my orthodontist kept the kids piled in his waiting room happy with comic books. My favorite were always the “Richie Rich” comics. As you may recall, Richie Rich was the richest kid in the whole world, who owned two of everything, and could satisfy his every desire. As a child in a home where we were always living on the financial edge, I found Richie’s stress free life (assuming his dastardly cousin wasn’t around to mess things up) an incredibly relaxing thing to contemplate. Everyone could say “money doesn’t buy happiness,” but I figured that poverty doesn’t either, and money does buy a lot of offsetting compensations.

I was therefore amused to read today that a lot of nouveau riche people are troubled by their sudden wealth, which takes away the need to strive for your daily bread (and shelter). Turns out that life can become pretty meaningless when you would need several lifetimes to spend down your wealth. Fortunately for these sad people, help is on the way:

SO YOU’VE made your first million. Or your 10th. Or your 20th.

Suddenly you are very, very rich. It dawns on you that you have more money than you could possibly need in a lifetime.

What do you do now?

Joan DiFuria of Kentfield and Stephen Goldbart of Berkeley can help you decide.

Partners in the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute based in Kentfield, the two psychologists serve a wide clientele of very rich people seeking purpose and meaning in their newly gilded lives.

Clients’ decisions – arrived at after an intensive day-and-a-half retreat – can be all over the map, from wanting more family time, to forging a new romantic relationship, to learning a foreign language or playing a musical instrument. Most want to find a passion beyond making money.

Some of the pair’s clients have enjoyed a sudden windfall – through inheritance, stock options, sale of land or a business. Most have spent the bulk of their lives in the pursuit of wealth, “giving all and everything to it,” DiFuria said.

At some point, they realize that money has not bought them happiness.

“They feel guilt, a lack of ease,” DiFuria said. “They have all this stuff – why are they not happy?”

Clients are looking for new goals, new identities, and Goldbart and DiFuria have devised a way to help them make the transition.

We should all have these types of problems.


2 Responses

  1. A nostalgic stroll…. Richie Rich and Casper were my faves, and Archie too. And in my best Bob Hope voice, “Thanks for the memories…”

  2. Bookworm,

    We know the cure for poverty–more affluence. But what is the cure for affluence? This amazing American economy is bringing wealth as a social and political problem to a whole new level. The nobility of other countries througout history had at their disposal, along with vast wealth, a family tradition and heritage to go with it. Exceptions, primarily tyrants who made their way through force or fraud, exhibited the same lostness as our nouveau riche today.

    Of course, were I to be cursed with such a fortune, I would know what to do with it.

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