08/27/2013 07:02 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2013

The Wealthy Are Not Narcissists Despite New Report

A new study from University of California at Berkeley psychology professor Paul Piff, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, says that being wealthy increases narcissism.

After interviewing more than 1,200 of the wealthiest individuals over the past 30 years, I can tell you it's not narcissism. The difference: Middle class believes rich people are arrogant, but the truth is the wealthy are confident.

The negative projections and derogatory labels placed on the rich are endless. One of the most common is that the rich are cocky, arrogant people who think they're better than everyone else. The truth is, successful people are confident because they repeatedly bet on themselves and are rarely disappointed. Even when they fail, they're confident in their ability to learn from the loss and come back stronger and richer than ever.

During the recession of 2008-2010, the rich took massive financial losses around the globe, but when interviewed many said they were confident in their ability to earn all the money back even faster than they initially acquired it. This is not arrogance, but self-assuredness in its finest form. The great ones develop their confidence over a period of years, but really catapult to new levels when they suffer a catastrophic loss and make what appears to be an impossible comeback. Once this happens, they no longer fear losing, knowing they can always make the money back.

As any fear-based thoughts diminish with each experience, they direct more of their mental energy towards thoughts of love, abundance and gratitude. This elevated, fearless consciousness keeps them moving towards what they want, as opposed to moving away from what they don't want. This often doubles or triples their net worth quickly due to the new efficiency in their thinking. Eventually they begin to believe they can accomplish anything, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As they move from success to success, they create a psychological tidal wave of momentum that gets stronger every day, bringing their confidence so high it is often interpreted as arrogance.

Don Shula said, "If you're going to take gambles, you must have one thing: self-confidence."

Selfish and self-absorbed?

The middle class believes the wealthy are selfish and self-absorbed. Guess what? It's true. The difference is the middle class thinks it's wrong while the wealthy thinks it's right. The masses are programmed to believe at an early age they should put the needs of others in front of their own. While this sounds like a spirit driven, high-level philosophy, it's the worst advice you can get.

When you fly on a commercial airliner, the first thing the flight attendant tells the passengers is, "in case of an emergency, please secure your oxygen mask first before you help anyone else - even children." This selfish strategy has saved many lives, and the premise is simple: If you're not taking care of you, you're not in a position to help anyone else. You can't give what you don't have, and if you're struggling to pay your bills while volunteering four nights a week, you're probably hurting more people than you're helping.

The philosophy of the wealthy is to get rich, get what you want, and help others in any way you wish. Your volunteer work, while noble, won't touch anywhere near the number of people you could be helping by creating a new product or service that makes life easier for or better for other people.

Any self-made millionaire will tell you there is a period of time in the beginning of the wealth building process where you must focus on yourself and your business in order to succeed at an uncommon level. They know it's not the highest level of thought, but it's necessary to create massive success. Once their fortune is secure, they are able to elevate their thinking if they wish, to the plight and suffering of others. They don't believe they are obligated to give back, but many choose to.

Meanwhile, the masses are toiling away with the best intentions while not being able to give much to themselves or others. They are capable of everything the rich are capable of, but few ever break out because their beliefs are so heavily ingrained in their consciousness that it keeps them blind to higher levels of thought.

Duke Ellington said, "Selfishness can be a virtue. Selfishness is essential to survival, and without survival we cannot protect those whom we love more than ourselves."