We often dream of success…however, we define it. But to place a twist on attaining success, one wonders whether the good life is always good. Are the very things that so many individuals strive for, such as a high-paying and powerful job, a beautiful house, a wardrobe of nice clothes in desirable sizes, and a fancy education for children to prepare them for carrying on this way of life: Do these very things turn out to be more trouble than they are worth? In fact, it is believed that the psychological burdens associated with being a low-status individual (i.e., poor) grow lighter as people move up the social ladder, but that is true only to a certain extent. Once individuals achieve more success, the mental and physical health benefits associated with greater affluence fade away. As individuals near the top, life stress increases dramatically, and its toxic effects essentially cancel out many positive aspects of succeeding. Basically, it falls Plop.
High Status Stress
The stress of high status is also a reason for caution. Schieman, Yuko, and Van Gundy found that people with higher levels of education and in higher status occupations with higher income experience higher levels of stress. Some factors that contribute to stress include more authority and autonomy, non-routine work demands, involvement, and longer hours, may lead to more conflicts between work and home. This was due to the rationale that the very trappings of success can make life harder for those who are more driven and work devoted.
Power is another benefit that is a stressor. Having authority over others binds people to all sorts of interpersonal conflicts and management turmoil, leading to very high stress. In the same way, the smaller details associated with micro-impression-management activities, such as getting the right clothes, the right haircut, and the big enough house, as well as raising the attractive, athletic, community-serving kids that will get into Harvard, all contribute to stress.
Also, in high-status communities, such activities might be a requirement rather than a choice in order to maintain credibility. Individuals have to wear the right suit to work or have to live in the right neighborhood, or else people will not take them seriously. Because millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet and would probably be willing to trade places, Time magazine writer Warner warned, “Be careful what you wish for.”