“You don’t seem to realize that a poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help” — Jean Kerr
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In this quote, Jean Kerr is drawing a comparison between poor unhappy people and rich unhappy people. She argues that while both may be unhappy, the poor person is actually in a better psychological position. This is because the poor unhappy individual retains some “hope” that acquiring money or financial security could potentially solve their unhappiness.
Even if unrealistic, this hope acts as a coping mechanism. Meanwhile, the rich unhappy person lacks this hope, since they already have wealth yet remain unhappy. So Kerr’s point is that being poor at least provides the potential consolation of believing money could buy happiness, whereas the rich do not have this illusion and thus may feel their unhappiness more acutely without the buffer of hopeful thinking.
Overall, the quote is suggesting that poverty can paradoxically be psychologically preferable to wealth when both are accompanied by unhappiness.