Advertising
Advertising

Greed Is Something We Should All Strive For

Greed Is Something We Should All Strive For

Most of us don’t want to be called “greedy.” Nobody wants to be the person who fills his plate and leaves others hungry or the person who waits for relatives to drop dead so he can get an inheritance. Greed reveals a darker side of human nature.

There are 2 sides to every coin, though. Could there be a positive side to being selfish?

Greed exists for a reason

When someone is uncomfortable with personal security, their anxiety may manifest as greed. This anxiety may stem from trauma or neglect. For example, a person who grows up not having enough to eat may hoard food and overindulge in adulthood.

In addition to anxiety, many greedy people have self-esteem issues. A child who doesn’t get enough attention grows into the adult that must be in the limelight. People who are insecure about their purpose in life sometimes tie their self-worth to having an abundance of items. Stuff is no substitute for being loved, but the person may feel a temporary sense of comfort from material possessions.[1]

With all the negativity in the news, people feel threatened more than ever. You may have noticed an uptick in greedy behaviors as we all grapple with uncertain times.

We can understand why someone behaves this way, but it doesn’t make us like greedy people more. Even if you know why your friend always takes too many slices of pizza, you’ll still be hungry.

Advertising

Taking too much harms others

Taking more than you need might not sound bad, but greed ca be negative for others. Look at what happens when the weather service forecasts a major storm. People panic, and instead of buying what they need, they clear the store shelves. The people who arrive late aren’t able to buy anything because there’s nothing left. Greed may be great for the economy, but it doesn’t do much for the human beings on the losing end.

Broadly speaking, when people fixate on hoarding objects or satisfying a desire for more stuff, they miss out on the richness of life. The person will almost never be satisfied, and after they get what they want, they’ll be on the prowl for the next big thing.

Many people realize they’re being greedy and hide who they are. A person who craves having power may become a politician. To do this, he may have to deceive others and craft a persona that will afford him what he wants. He may say–and even believe–that he wants to help others. He may champion the underdog and speak out against the power-hungry even as he lusts for power himself.

Greed doesn’t have to be terrible

Greed can serve a positive purpose in some contexts. One positive is that it’s a form of motivation. Greed inspires people to push for better social and economic outcomes than they have.

Altruism is a better force for creating positive change, but it takes time to develop it. Greed readily dovetails with consumerism. Our society is built on and supported by greedy behavior, whether or not we like it. The quest for more and better stuff has driven societies to the highest levels of achievement.

Societies that try to function without greed and hierarchy dissolve into chaos. Having a hierarchy naturally causes inequality, but people with more power often take actions that improve our lives.[2]

Advertising

Over two centuries ago, Adam Smith, economist and philosopher, explained that individuals who acted out of self-interest would be supported by the economy and make society better. The greed behind capitalism may seem unattractive, but the results are often desirable.[3]

We saw examples of this prosperity in the US in the 1980s and 1990s on Wall Street. Productivity was high and unemployment rates were low. The stock market made many investors wealthy.

When the dotcom bubble burst and the value of shares dropped, people realized that greed has its limitations. In 1999, American households had a net worth-to- income ratio of 6.3. It has since fallen to 5.3. Even though we’re still doing better than our long term average, we’ve seen a decrease in quality of life across a large portion of the middle class.

Optimistic investors feel that this is part of the natural ebb and flow of the market, but perhaps this downturn was a warning about going for things well outside of our means.

Can it really be bad for us to recognize our limits and live in accordance with needs instead of wants?

Use greed to your advantage

1. Recognize the root of your greed.

Advertising

Greed may be a sign that you have some insecurities to work through.

Someone who constantly has to shop may be trying to fill an emotional void or insecurity with stuff. If you find yourself loading your shopping bags every week, think about why you’re doing it. You may even need to seek professional help to deal with these issues.

2. Use greed to drive change.

Greed motivates you to climb the socio-economic ladder.

The unhappy person can change their life. If you’re unsatisfied with your quality of life, your desire to accumulate things could be a sign to get a better job or capitalize on an idea.

3. Sharing is caring.

Advertising

If your desire for more things ends up making you wealthy and successful, use your power to look out for others.

When you’re top dog, you have a great opportunity to give back. Look at the philanthropic work people such as Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey do because they have the means.

Following these steps gives you a chance to reflect on yourself and affords you a opportunity to make the world better.

Flip the notion of greed on its head

Most of us possess a basic drive to want things that we don’t have. Instead of viewing this as a negative mindset, see it as an opportunity to improve your life and the lives of others.

Featured photo credit: The Digital Artist via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Is greed good?
[2] Time: Greed is Good: Science Proves It
[3] The Economist: Is Greed Good?

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

Trending in Mental Strength

1 If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can? 2 Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself 3 15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Set You up for Success 4 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit 5 How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 18, 2019

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can?

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can?

Think of the last time your bought something you really wanted. How did you feel afterwards? It felt good.

    Now, is there something else you really want? Maybe a new laptop, smartphone, or some nice clothes. Buying that thing, whatever it is, will bring you happiness. When you finally have it, you will be excited to try it out.

    Advertising

          As cliche as it says “money can’t buy happiness,” we feel happy when we buy the things we want. Why is that?

          The Real Reason Why You Are Happy When You Buy Stuff

          Human beings are hardwired to seek instant gratification. You’ve probably heard the phrase instant gratification hundreds of times. To get that thing we want, the moment we want it. This desire for instant gratification came to us as a survival mechanism. I’m not going to talk about instant gratification in details here, if you want to find out more about it, take a look at 5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification.

          While instant gratification is in human’s nature, we live in a society driven by delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is the desire for something but the inability to get it when you want. In our society, you have to wait for your pay day, your meal at a restaurant, your coffee at Starbucks. When the thing you want finally arrives, you get excited.

          Advertising

            Your excitement for this thing, the delayed gratification often elicits stronger emotional responses in you than when you get it. This feeling comes from dopamine a chemical that influences the pleasure centers in our brains.[1] When you become excited for something, you are actually enjoying a release of dopamine into our system. The thing you are actually excited for is almost secondary to it.

            Think about it, how did you feel a couple hours after buying something you waited a long time for? It was probably not nearly as good as when you first got it, or when you’re waiting to get it. It’s natural, it’s a part of human nature.

              In this way the happiness you feel isn’t true happiness. In fact, biologically speaking, you’re just enjoying a blast of dopamine. When this blast of dopamine is gone, you want something new again, which is secretly, more dopamine. This is what that old saying “money can’t buy you happiness” really means.

              Advertising

              There is, however, a way in which money can buy you happiness. It’s just not in a way you think.

              An Alternative to Buying Happiness

              Recently Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA conducted a study where two groups of people were given $40 each.[2] One group was told to spend it in buying a possession, an object, something they wanted. The other group was told to spend it in ways that would enable them to have more free time, for example, having food delivered to save them from cooking, or hiring a cleaner, instead of cleaning their house themselves. When each participant in the study were to measure their happiness to a 10 point scale, those who spent their money on more free time were almost always one whole point ahead of those who spent their money on stuff.

              In a sense, they were happier because they brought themselves out of doing something they didn’t want to do. Just buying more stuff, in the long run didn’t have much of an affect on their happiness, when those who spent money on time found an increase in life satisfaction.

              It was the free time that made people happy.

              Advertising

                It was the quality time that contributed more to their happiness, the money was just a tool they used to get more time. But the money ultimately is unnecessary. All that is required is a re-adjustment of how you measure time.

                Everyone has 24 hours a day. The life expectancy for females is 81.2 years; for males, it’s 76.4 years. Most people have more or less the same time of living. To make every hour, or minute count is the way to create your own happy time. If you are always feeling busy and don’t think you have enough quality time for yourself, you need to make a change to turn things around.

                To be truly happy, make quality time a true value in your life. Find out how to do so in my other article How to Gain More Time Like Making Money.

                More About Happiness

                Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

                Reference

                Read Next