In a recent TIME Magazine, there was a special section titled “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life.” I thought that many of these ideas were interesting but one really struck me – High Status Stress.
This article asks what if the things so many of us want – nice house, higher-paying jobs, fancy car and expensive private schools for our children – turn out to give us more stress than they are worth. While it is mostly true that the burden and stress associated with lower-income earners lessens as they earn more money and move up the social ladder, this holds true to a certain point. In fact, once you get to a certain level, the benefits associated with increased wealth go away. Research has shown that as you continue this climb, the stress associated with living the “high life” increases so much that it can eliminate many of the positive aspects of succeeding!
Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, conducted surveys that depict this. In 2005 and 2007, he surveyed 1,800 Americans from a variety of income levels (he is now extending this research to more than 6,000 Canadians) and found that “people with higher levels of education and in higher-status occupations and mid-to-higher income brackets are experiencing higher levels of stressors.” Why is this so? Well, the responsibilities that come along with success can make life more difficult if you are work-devoted and highly-driven – two of the characteristics that led you to succeed in the first place.
Let’s say you are in the position of being able to work from home. Some may find that to be dreamy whereas others look at it as a nightmare since they feel the need to always be on and answer every email, text message or phone call they get regardless of the time. Some also strive to have power which can lead to even more stress when you have to manage others. Then there are what sociologists refer to as “micro-impression-management activities.” These include things such as wearing the right clothes, looking a certain way, having a nice house and the perfect family – qualities needed to remain credible. I know many people would gladly trade their problems with these but it just shows that stress is relative to what we are going through.
I found this study to be interesting. I, like many others, do sometimes wish I had more money. I am content with my life but of course having more would be nice and sometimes more money equals more problems!