The Psychology of the Rich vs Poor
Updated: May 19, 2019
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone”.
This was said by Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century philosopher and is still as true today as it was back then, maybe even more true today.
What he was saying was the more things you can avoid buying, in particular materialistic/frivolous things, the richer you will become.
The main difference between the flow of thoughts between the rich man and the poor man is the conception of sufficiency and lack. The rich man will think about how to spend his time and money properly, while the poor man is always looking for more free time and more money. If you paid the rich man £1,000 and the same to the poor man, these thoughts would not be altered. The rich man would think “right, what is the best way to spend this £1,000, how can I make it work for me or bring me value.” The poor man would think “I need more than £1,000, this is not enough.” The money will not work for this man due to his flow of thought and it will not create any value for him. This is why a lot of people who are on good salaries still struggle financially. They think having a bigger wage will mean they will have more money, but it does not change their flow of thoughts, they still chase even more money but continue to purchase frivolous things that are just more expensive than the things they were purchasing when they were on a lower salary.
It is good to be ambitious, the idea of “Argh, I’ve only earned £1,000 this week, I want to be earning £1,500 next week” is fine, so long as you have the energy to make it happen, this is the thinking of many business owners as passion helps generate growth. However the key here is, spend the £1,000 correctly first, then go out and achieve £1,500 next week. Do not sit at home angry because you feel cheated out of £500. This is how the poor man thinks and it is what drives them to purchase materialistic items to make themselves feel better or hunt for more “free time”.
The poor man does not make use of the opportunities that become available to him. The poor man always believes he has a lack of opportunities, he strives for an opportunity, but when one comes knocking, no matter how big or small, he turns it away, always chasing the next one and eventually throws away all of life's opportunities. The poor man does not realise he is throwing away all these opportunities. He is telling himself “I really want a break, I just need one opportunity and I’ll be set up for life” while being totally oblivious to how many options he actually has available.
The poor man's lack of opportunities is one part of the constant “lack of” mentality. The poor man will regularly say “I have no time”, “I have no money”. It seems to him, that life is constantly depriving him of something, especially when he looks to people around him and believes they have more opportunities, more money and overall a better life than he does.
This psychology is another important aspect that separates the rich mind from the poor mind. The poor man is heavily influenced by the financial decisions and lifestyles of those around him. Social media has fuelled this poor psychology even more as it distorts the lives of everyone, who only share their best moments, whether it is their holiday, new pencil case, new shoes, new job, social media paints our lives as a perfect, happy painting. This painting is what drives the poor man into his deprivation, he believes he should be having this lifestyle, but he is not as fortunate as “Catherine next door, who has just bought a new caravan in Afghanistan”. This FOMO (fear of missing out) psychosis and comparison of other people's lives is what prompts the poor man, and most of our generation to make imprudent financial decisions.
The rich man has a very stoic psychology, his lifestyle or financial decisions cannot be altered by anyone around him. He has the clarity in his mind to know that whatever decision he is making is the right one for himself and himself alone. He never believes “he is missing out on something”.
The concept of thinking you have a lack of means you are being influenced by some outside force, you are trying to conform to what you believe to be the normalities of society. The poor man will say things like “I need to”, “I have to”, it means his mind is in the state of a victim, or feels trapped, he is submissive and feels under pressure of circumstances and “must” conform to the rules and act in a certain way in order to achieve. That is why he is “constantly struggling against the world”. The poor man will always blame somebody or something for their misfortunes.
The words of the rich man are “I want to”, “I am going to”, his mind is free, he is not going to save more money because he “has to”, he is going to because he wants to. The rich man will never blame anyone else for his failures, he accepts his mistakes and takes them as opportunities to learn something new. The poor man is afraid of failing, another reason why they do not exploit their opportunities. Once again highly influenced by those around them, they are terrified of looking like a failure to their peers or worried they will be made fun of.
In summary, the poor man wants to feel safe, while the rich man wants to feel free. The poor man’s psychology is that of a survivor, he is constantly having to survive, suspicious of people, alert and tense, worried about bills, making sure he has X to pay for Y and eventually enters a state of simply living to work rather than working to live.
I’ve always believed that to be the best you can be is to have an “inner scorecard” that only you and you alone can fill, whatever you believe in your own mind is right, just do it, if somebody else believes your financial or lifestyle decisions are incorrect, dismiss them and move onto the next topic.
A common contradiction of the poor man, in spite of his constant lack of money, is to claim that “money is not important”. The two main reasons why the poor man thinks like this is because:
It’s his way of convincing himself that he only wants money to survive, he is not interested in the freedom money creates and so should be entitled to more money.
He wants to convince those around him that money is not important in the hopes of preventing them from being in what he perceives to be a better position than his own.
The first point is another piece of the puzzle for damaging your mind if you think like a poor man. However the second point illustrates the damaging effect the poor man can have on those around him.
The poor man, already on the path of self destruction is one of the main contributors to societies lack of influence. The poor man’s mind is the biggest breeding ground for the crab mentality. The poor man is fearful of anyone around him being successful, the simple idea being “if I can't have it, I do not want you to.” He becomes jealous and hateful towards the potentially rich man and must do all he can to pull him back down into the depths of the poor man mind. The most dangerous fragment of this psychology is it is usually built up subconsciously; the poor man is completely unaware his mind is thinking like this and when he shares negative thoughts about the potential rich man’s new idea for example, he simply views himself as being “a good friend” because he “does not want to see him fail”.
The poor man, unless he changes his outlook, will eventually believe he has no hope, which drives him into paranoia, proclaiming he will “have no one left” and must prevent these people he relies on, socially or financially from succeeding.
The rich man always cares about the interest of others, because his way of thinking is “If I can help make him a success, if I can support him in any way, this will produce more opportunities for me in the long term, a successful person will be within my circle”. Rich minds will always help each other, they will always go into business together because of this way of thinking. When two rich minds have a problem, they will not produce a solution unless both sides can be the winners.
The poor man does not think like this, he does not believe in such problem solving, he believes that if someone wins, another must lose. Like the crab in the barrell, the poor man cannot amend his thinking to “helping him get out will be valuable to me.” This is why, once again, the poor man misses out on opportunities, he’s worried he is getting ripped off in some way, “there is no way he is doing that for me, there must be something else in it for himself.” Unfortunately in the world of Camlas, this is why it is very difficult for me to convince other people to invest with us, there is always a disturbing notion in their minds that me and Harry Potter are potentially accumulating stacks of cash with our wands and not letting them know about it.
The poor man always believes winning comes at the expense of others, this is why the poor man dislikes successful people. His immediate evaluation of the rich man is “Oh he must have robbed a poor person.” The poor man basically believes that the rich man has got rich at his own expense. This means the poor man has no desire to listen or learn from the rich man, he is very ignorant and hates the rich man talking about his success or offering any advice as he perceives it to be boastful or patronising towards him.
In conclusion, the main difference between the rich man and the poor man is that the rich man is the one who is always willing to learn and change himself, while the poor man is the one who is constantly waiting for the world to change for him.
I’ll finish with our Camlas motto:
The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources.