What’s a Snob? (Delaware Coast Press)

Are you a snob? Do you know one? What, exactly, is a snob? In order to know that, we first have to explore why people achieve success.

There are two kinds of achievers out there. The first does it for the sake of accomplishment, and the only person he needs to impress is himself. He will always achieve more, because his energy is focused on getting the job done right. It doesn’t occur to him to worry about what others think. If he is successful, it follows that others will notice and perhaps even benefit from it.

The second accomplishes things in order to impress others. He doesn’t see himself as worthy unless others approve of him and he can feel superior. And this is where snobbery comes in. ‘I have more than you. Therefore I’m better.’ The mistaken idea is that one’s character is quantitative (how much I have), rather than qualitative (is what I have good and does it make me happy?).

Some who produce and/or acquire wealth are rightly called snobs because they need to know that you know they’re superior. Achievement for their own pleasure and satisfaction isn’t enough. ‘Oh, you have that inexpensive car? You live in that neighborhood? How can you stand it?’ Saying these things elevates their standing in their own minds; often lowering that standing in others’.

It might appear as if these people think too much of themselves, but if they truly did, they wouldn’t need to prove it. They wouldn’t waste their time with people they deemed inferior. People who have genuine self-esteem don’t squander their time with people they don’t respect. They might have friends with varying amounts of material possessions, but they’ll always have friends they value and admire. And it would never occur to them to make these friends feel inferior.

Money is relevant, of course, but achievement and fulfillment are the meanings of life. One should never be ashamed because he or she has money, and should never see it as proof of superiority. Money can come from sources unrelated to achievement, such as marriage or inheritance, so virtue is not automatically bestowed by dollars alone.

Virtue is bestowed by a life of self-fulfillment and personal happiness. In fact, ‘Do what you love and the money will follow’ is very often true.

Create your own sense of purpose — one that makes you happy — and any wealth you acquire will add to that happiness rather than be the source of it. A happy person knows how to quietly enjoy the money he or she has.

Of course, we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that it’s better to have more money than less. People love to hear themselves prattle on that money isn’t important or that it doesn’t matter. Well, for those of us who like to come in from the rain or get from one place to another, it sure helps with the mortgage, the rent and the car payment. But that by itself doesn’t translate into happiness. What the money buys is choices. Choices are a good thing, but just because you have options doesn’t mean you’ll use them well. The world is full of miserable people — some with money and some without. Happiness stems from many sources, and great wealth isn’t the complete answer.

The attitudes people hold about money tend to be black and white, and are often off the mark. Either money is evil (a good excuse for low-achievers to feel better about themselves), or it is absolutely necessary to be of any significance (a good excuse to be a snob). But the truth lies in-between. Leading a meaningful life, defined by the attainment of meaningful goals, will bring happiness. The money that might result from that can surely help subsidize that happiness, but it will never be happiness itself.

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