So, you have finally accomplished your financial dreams. Through sheer hard work and sacrifice you are now able to live comfortably. You have enough money stored up so that you can purchase anything your heart desires.
Your problems are over, or so you thought. Because now there is a new problem to face, one that keeps you up for all hours of the night. You can’t sleep.
No, I mean that’s the real problem you face…you can’t sleep. But why? After some research you realize this is not an uncommon problem for those with money.
In fact Solomon, one of the richest men who ever lived, wrote about it. He mentioned in Ecclesiastes 5:12 that “the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.” In contrast, he wrote that the sleep “of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much.”
So what’s the deal? Why would he say this? What challenges do the rich face that keeps them from sleeping?
Why the Rich Can’t Sleep?
If I had one million dollars in assets, I’m thinking I would pay more attention to it than the person who only had $5,000 stored up. I would have a lot more to take care of. To be a good steward of that much would naturally demand more of my time.
I would also have seen, as the wealth accumulated, that money could actually work for me instead of me working for it. I’m going to work more diligently on diversifying the wealth into assets (stocks, real estate) and projects (new business opportunities, venture capital) that can expand that return.
And if I had one million dollars in cash lying around, I think that could ignite an inner desire to have more. I mean, once you have reached that point, how much can you actually get, right? Don’t you think that desire for more would kick in and you would want to see how rich you could actually become?
The rich may face these issues but I’m not convinced they actually can’t sleep. I think Solomon may have been hinting at a deeper issue in regards to his “the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” statement.
How Fear Prohibits Sleep
Fear can consume us. It really is a reason we can’t sleep.
We have a multitude of fears. I mean, we leave the lights on at night so we can sleep because of one of our most basic fears – being in the dark.
I had a fear for awhile, growing up in the early 1980s, of atomic bombs. I remember lying awake at night wondering if I could survive if the Soviet Union launched a missile at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, which was about 40 minutes from my house. (I concluded if I went into my closet and stuffed a blanket over the crack at the bottom of the door, I could survive any nuclear fallout.)
So what fears might the rich face that could keep them up at night?
Fear that they could lose it all. (I don’t want to be poor again. But what if this happens…or what if that happens…how would I survive?)
Fear that someone might be coming to steal it. (So, I’ll get insurance, insurance and more insurance. I’ll have umbrella policies for my umbrella policies. Oh…and I’ll ramp up my home security too.)
Fear that others will deceive or take advantage of them. (What angle am I missing in this business deal? It seems too good to be true.)
Fear of people’s agenda. (Do they really like me or do they just want to know me because I’m rich? What are they trying to get out of me?)
Fear of what’s in the future. (How much will I need in retirement? What if my investment returns are only 3% instead of the 8% I was counting on? What if I get sick, need long-term care and that eats up all my savings? Oh…better get long-term care insurance…let me get out of bed and write that down before I forget.)
Fear of harming yourself. (Don’t do anything stupid. You have made it here, don’t do anything to jeopardize your position. I need to eat right. I need to find time to exercise. I need to break off that relationship…oh, that’s going to be painful to deal with.)
Next thing you know, as you are thinking through all these fears – lying in your bed at night – trying to find answers to the questions your fears pose – you have lost a couple hours of sleep.
I’m sure these fears are not exclusive to the rich. Fear is no respecter of persons. It is common to us all. It is definitely something we must overcome for a good nights sleep.
Questions: What fears (financial or otherwise) do you face? Perhaps the bigger question is, how do you work through your fears? What are other reasons you can’t sleep?
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