Olympics 2016, and Happiness vs Wealth?

As of this writing, the United States medal count stands at 10 Gold, 8 Silver and 9 Bronze with 27 new world records established. We gather around our TVs to watch our favorite sporting events and can’t help but be inspired by the myriad personal stories that are told during these few weeks. As we watch the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat multiple times daily, we are touched by the struggles and perseverance of these amazing athletes across the globe. We also hear much about the economic and political conditions of the hosting city, and those of the athletes’ home countries. We are offered concentrated glimpses of other cultures, the resilience of the human spirit, and a paradox in many cases regarding means vs achievement, happiness, and gratitude. Many of these athletes have achieved a current quality of life that certainly cannot be correlated with their original resources (wealth, environmental, political). Money clearly did not buy them opportunity or happiness as they had little. 

A somewhat clear observation is the correlation between economic wealth and social progress, yet looking more closely, you can see that some countries (United Kingdom, Finland, New Zealand and the Netherlands) are enjoying more social progress with less wealth, while others (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) have more wealth and less social progress.

It’s also interesting to see the United States, while high on the scale, ranks behind at least a dozen other countries on the Social Progress Index. Is it really less pleasant to live in the U.S. than Slovenia? Perhaps so. Few of us are proud of our news headlines these days.

A possible conclusion is that culture plays a role in the rankings, implying that perhaps after certain basic needs are met, means no longer correlates strongly with quality of life. Wealth isn’t everything. The United Kingdom, Scandinavian countries, Canada, New Zealand and Australia clearly put more emphasis on quality of life, family, and relationships than on per-capita wealth.

While we remain vigilant to protect and grow our clients’ wealth, we are steadfast in our focus on goal achievement, believing that a number alone won’t bring you happiness. We aim to help you reach financial freedom, as you define it, allowing you to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. 

The Olympic Games bring the world together on the athletic front and offer an environment that can neutralize the various socioeconomic conditions. We’ll look forward to more of those stories that evidence the human spirit at its finest. Go Team USA!