The unfortunate death earlier this month of Eva Rausing, wife of Hans Kristian, the Tetra Pak heir said to be worth 5 billion, suggests that fabulous wealth doesn’t automatically translate into fabulous happiness. She was found dead at home after her husband was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs. The couple, who met in drug rehab 25 years ago, were said to be taking a cocktail which included morphine, heroin and cocaine. Apparently, Eva had told a friend: ‘If I stay with Hans I know I will die.’
Ever since I wrote How To Be Happier people have been telling me that I’ve been missing something. ‘Isn’t it true that you need money to be happy?’ they say. Well, it’s certainly true that being unable to pay the bills causes a lot of unhappiness. And it’s also true that a bit of money on top to buy at least some of life’s more expensive pleasures – an annual holiday, a decent car, a modern kitchen – can make you very cheerful. But beyond that, there’s really no evidence that more money equals more happiness.
Certainly, with a lot of money you can buy a lot of drugs – and a lot of misery. According to a report in the Mirror, Eva’s family went so far as to hire an eight man former SAS surveillance team to try to prevent her buying drugs. But even they couldn’t stop her.
The list of the rich and famous who died from drugs includes Olivia Channon, daughter of the then MP for Southend West, in 1986; John Hervey who died penniless aged 44 in 1999, despite having inherited around 40 million; Radio Rentals heiress Jayne Harries; John Paul Getty III (grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty) who rendered himself quadriplegic and nearly blind after taking valium, methadone and alcohol, but lingered 30 more years. And there are many more.
Drugs are a big mistake. Never ever imagine they can be the solution to a problem or a fast track to happiness. Money is not a fast track to happiness either. If you’d like to know what is, you can buy How To Be Happier on Amazon.