2) What owns you
The pursuit of wealth in America is intense; it is apparent everywhere and seems to be the chief aim of the American people. Because of their eagerness to become rich as soon as possible they are all in a constant hurry. You may see people in the streets almost running to their offices, at luncheon they do not masticate their food, they bolt it, and in less than ten minutes are on their way back to their office again. Everyone is urged on by this spirit of haste, and you frequently hear of sudden deaths which doctors attribute to heart failure, or some other malady, but which I suspect are caused by the continual restless hurry and worry. People who are so unnaturally eager to get rich naturally suffer for it.
It is the general belief that Americans do not live as long as Europeans. They make money easily and their expectations are high. I have known many Americans who, in my opinion, were wealthy people, but they themselves did not think so; in fact, they said they were poor. Once I asked a gentleman, who was known to be worth half a million of gold dollars, whether it was not time for him to retire. He pooh-poohed the idea and said that he could not afford to give up his work. In reply to my inquiries he informed me that he would not call a man wealthy unless he should be possessed of one or two millions of dollars. With such extravagant ideas, it is no wonder that Americans work so hard. I grant that a man's mission in this world is to attain happiness. According to Webster, happiness is "that state of being which is attended with enjoyment," but it is curious to observe what different notions people have as to what happiness is. I know an Englishman in China who by his skilful business management, combined with good luck, has amassed immense wealth; in fact, he is considered the richest man in the port where he resides. He is a bachelor, over seventy years old, and leads a very simple life. But he still goes to his office every day, and toils as if he had to work for a living. Being told that he should discontinue his drudgery, as at his death he would have to leave his large fortune to relatives who would probably squander it, he gave an answer which is characteristic of the man. "I love," he said, "accumulating dollars and bank notes, and my enjoyment is in counting them; if my relatives who will inherit my fortune, take as much pleasure in spending it as I have had in making it, they will be quite welcome to their joy." Not many people, I fancy, will agree with the old bachelor's view of life. I once suggested to a multi-millionaire of New York that it was time for him to retire from active work, leaving his sons to carry on his business. He told me that he would be unhappy without work and that he enjoyed the demands his business made on him each day.
-- America Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat