Being Rich: Not That Tough After All

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 10:01 AM EDT

I don't think this will come as a big surprise to anyone familiar with the real world, but it might come as a surprise to the Fox News set that endlessly glorifies all those job creators. It turns out that the rich and powerful don't lead especially tough lives after all:

A new study reveals that those who sit atop the nation's political, military, business and nonprofit organizations are actually pretty chill. Compared with people of similar age, gender and ethnicity who haven't made it to the top, leaders pronounced themselves less stressed and anxious. And their levels of cortisol, a hormone that circulates at high levels in the chronically stressed, told the same story.

The source of the leaders' relative serenity was pretty simple: control. Compared with workers who toil in lower echelons of the American economy, the leaders studied by a group of Harvard University researchers enjoyed control over their schedules, their daily living circumstances, their financial security, their enterprises and their lives.

...."People in a company at all levels may be affected by the market and its unpredictability," she said. But while rank-and-file employees may worry about being laid off, chief executives can pretty much rest assured that "they'll keep their position in society, their superiority, their lifestyle and their income" even if the organization over which they preside suffers, she said.

Worrying about whether your division will meet its revenue goals is unquestionably stress inducing. But guess what? Worrying about being laid off, not finding a job, losing your home, and not being able to buy food for your kids — that's a lot more stressful. People in the middle and at the bottom of the pile live tough lives, and lack of money and control make their lives even tougher. The rich should probably extend them a wee bit more sympathy than they do.