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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a very unhappy person and I do not understand why. I have a good life and I make a good parnassah. My children are bright and healthy. My wife is a great mother and wife. We have a large family with a few happily married children and grandchildren.

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However, if I am being honest, I have a few affluent friends and I am jealous of them. I know that each one of them has his own issues and that I should appreciate the brachos that Hashem has given me.

I know that I have nothing to be jealous of, and yet…

I do believe it has something to do with the way I was raised. My parents always compared me to others and often put me down. They would say things like, “Who would believe he would amount to anything?”

I was not a great learner, but I tried to always work on my middos and baruch Hashem, I think I turned out alright. This is the one area I struggle with. Dr. Respler, please help me to be a happier person.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

There seems to be two issues here and I will try to address both.

First you mention being unhappy. You seem to insinuate that not being rich like some of your friends is adding to this unhappiness, but really your feeling of unhappiness and your wishing to have more money are probably two separate concerns. Being happy is something you have to actively work on and likely has little to do with having more money. You already are halfway there as you recognize that you are feeling unhappy.

You have to work on changing the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough. Don’t let your parents live rent free in your head. Instead of repeating that you are not good enough, make a list of positive affirmations to say. For example,

  1. I have a beautiful family.
  2. I am a successful person.
  3. People like me.
  4. I like myself.

Say these things every day, even if it seems weird to you. It will help you feel happier as well as grateful.

Lastly, it is imperative that you focus on your strengths. Make a list of them and remove it every night until you convince yourself that they are true. This will help you feel more self-confident.

It is also important to do things that are fun. Yes, you probably have a lot of obligations, but doing something you enjoy can help you feel happier. One way to do that is by exercising – even taking a nightly walk with your wife will increase your endorphins and help you spend some quality time together.

Now for the second issue – money, an issue that plagues many people. We are living in a generation where finances are very difficult for most families.  So often I hear people say that they would be so happy if only they had more money. While I agree that having money to pay your bills helps many people feel calm, that doesn’t equal happiness. In fact, for many people having money, being rich is a great nisayon.

Let me give you some examples:

Those with money are often unsure if people like them or treat them well to get a donation or a favor.

Some wealthy men have told me that going to shul is difficult. They just want to daven, but find themselves interrupted by others who are trying to get donations for their various needs and causes. One gvir told me that he would try to drive to a shul where they did not know him, sometimes even in disguise, so that he could daven in peace. He did not want to give out hundreds of dollars while he was davening and people did not respect his boundaries. It made davening with a minyan very challenging for him.

Another factor is dealing with one’s own married children. I know of situations where children stop speaking with their parents as they feel that they are not getting enough money from them. It is sad that some children feel entitled to endless money if their parents are very wealthy and use their relationship to manipulate the situation for their own benefit.

Of course, not all wealthy people have this nisayon, but it is something that some wealthy people struggle with.

Lastly, some wealthy individuals have a very hard time when dealing with family. They feel that all of their family members are always looking for ways to solicit money from them for any cause.

Yes, being rich seems nice, but it definitely comes with its own challenges. I wish you hatzlocha in finding happiness within yourself.

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.