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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.

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Anna Chui

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

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What is life about? What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?

Everyone, from ancient Greek Stoics all the way to modern lifestyle gurus, have answered these kinds of questions in an endless variety of ways. And yet, we still search for a satisfying answer.

Neither this article, nor any other one, can deliver a tangible solution to the curious case of life. And that’s okay!

The truth is, part of what makes the meaning of life so alluring is its engrossing diversity, mystery, and intangibility. However, it’s important to point out that the lack of a solid answer doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for one. The search for what life is about is a journey that each individual person must embark on for themselves. Each person must look for their own, uniquely fulfilling answer to the question.

Fortunately, there are many different behaviors, ideals, and actions that humans have found over the centuries that can be excellent methods to draw us towards that final, inner conclusion of why we exist. Here are a handful of ways to kickstart the adventure of finding out just what life is really about.

1. Love People

Like life, love is one of the most commonly discussed yet, elusive things that humans encounter. Is it a behavior? A lifestyle? A person or object? A relationship with God? It’s used in all of these ways, depending on the context.

However, one thing that always remains is that love is a powerful force for good. Many of the most meaningful things in life are borne out of love — whether we’re loving things, others, or even ourselves.

One of the best ways to find the meaning of life through love is to practice connecting with our families. From parents and siblings to a spouse and children, loving our family is a powerful way to grow in our knowledge and appreciation of what life has to offer.

A spouse, children, friends, life partners, and strong platonic relationships provide a unique and powerful feeling that is difficult to find anywhere else. This is largely because they’re intimately connected to the eye-opening, natural desire to reproduce and leave our mark on the world through posterity.

2. Detox from Technology and Gain Perspective

Next up, we have the extremely important need to detox from time to time. Modern life is fraught with dangerously addicting distractions like social media, that can take up gobs of time without our ever even realizing it. And the effects can go beyond simply frittering away time. In fact, one study suggested that perhaps as much as a staggering 30% of divorces originate with Facebook interactions.[1]

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Life doesn’t simply happen in a vacuum, though. Once you’ve managed to disconnect from those devices and social profiles, it’s important to take that time and energy and redirect it towards a healthier mindset.

Spend time meditating, praying, and even simply dwelling on an attitude of gratefulness. Find things that you’re thankful for and make an effort to express appreciation for what you have on a regular basis (you know, rather than envying others as we scroll through our Facebook feeds).

One of the keystones to life that numerous wise men throughout history always hearken back to is the simple appreciation, gratefulness, and thanks that come with a good perspective.

3. Look for Meaningful Ways to Give Back

Donations and charities aren’t lacking these days. In fact, the phenomenon of charitable giving is at an all-time high. Awareness has skyrocketed in the age of information, and Americans gave a record-breaking $410.02 billion to charity in 2017 alone.[2]

But just because we know how to give doesn’t mean we’re really, truly invested in giving back to others. Real, honest giving doesn’t come out of personal abundance and overflow, nor does it typically take the form of a crisp dollar bill. It comes out of a desire to help others — a desire that can be huge in helping to get a healthy perspective of life.

If you want to find out more about life, consider genuinely giving back to the world around you. Don’t just scrounge up your extra cash and give it to a cause someone else is passionate about.

Find out where your own passions are. What needs and hurts in the world get your heart racing and your mind searching for a solution? Find those, then invest yourself. Give until it hurts. The results are exhilarating. This article can help you: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

4. Try a Hobby

While we’ve already talked about what we can do for others, that doesn’t mean a little self-care isn’t needed once in a while too. We’re not talking about indulging those shallow, fleeting desires like a bowl of ice-cream or a trip to the spa, though.

Small treats are perfectly fine, but they don’t go very far in helping us truly appreciate life itself. Instead, try looking for a new challenge.

A challenge can be the perfect formula for helping to open our eyes to the beauty of the world around us. They provide value without the perpetual responsibility and financial concerns that come with our careers and professional lives.

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Find a hobby that indulges your interests and simultaneously challenges your skills. Dive into a pursuit that has always intrigued or fascinated you, but you’ve never had the time to explore on your own. Practice a new instrument, go fly fishing, try painting, learn a language — the world’s your oyster! This list of 50 low-cost hobbies will inspire you.

If you’re thoughtful in your selection, you may even be able to pursue an interest that can inadvertently develop your life skills and possibly even add to your resume.[3]

5. Overcome Insecurities

Let’s circle back around to the personal, inner thoughts and behaviors. One of the critical elements to a life well lived — and thus better understood — is overcoming insecurities.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Everyone has insecurities.

Sometimes those insecurities are a bit difficult to pin down and see for what they truly are. One of the best ways to rise above the fears and anxieties of life is to work on your insecurities. Try to practice mindfulness, look for thought patterns, analyze your behavior, and identify when you’re being influenced by insecurities.

The more you become aware of your own insecurities, the more you’ll be able to rise above them, prevent selfish behavior, and enable yourself to do things that would have been impossible before.

If you’ve been trapped in a job you don’t like, for instance, due to insecurities about financial failure or peer pressure, overcoming those insecurities at their roots will enable you to move on somewhere else, to ask for that promotion you’ve been eyeing, or even simply move horizontally within the company in order to find better work that better satisfies your personality and talents. [4]

6. Never Stop Learning

Twelve years of structured school (not to mention a mini-career arc through college after that) can leave many of us feeling like we’re done with academics, school, and learning in general.

But the truth is, learning should be a lifelong process. Healthy humans are always in a state of learning. They see what’s around them and want to learn more, understand more, and see why everything is the way it is.

This doesn’t mean you need to manufacture a desire to start reading textbooks on calculus in order to see what life is about. It’s simply an encouragement to start to take an interest in the world around you. Investigate, probe, and learn more about things that catch your interest, and your passion for learning will start to grow on its own before long.

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For instance, even if you pushed yourself all the way through a masters degree already, don’t close the book on your academic career quite yet. Consider going back to school (no matter your age) in order to get a post-master certificate. [5] This won’t just give you an edge in the professional arena; it will also serve as a way to satisfy that inherent desire to learn.

While that’s just one example out of many, the point is, it’s important to find ways to continue learning and growing on a regular basis.

7. Go Minimalist

It’s easy to hear about concepts like “minimalism” and think about extreme lifestyles, like Buddhist monks living in barren temples up in the mountains. But the truth is, minimalism is an easy lifestyle to adapt even in the cluttered, materialistic West.

If you take small steps like avoiding purchasing unnecessary new things, storing seasonal items, and generally decluttering, you can ease into a minimalist mindset without much trouble.[6]

This doesn’t just help with finances and your cleaning schedule, either. A life with less clutter often leads to a clearer, more grateful mindset. And a grateful mindset can be a key part of gaining deeper insight into what this life stuff is really about in the first place.

8. Travel

You saw this one coming, right? Those that seriously travel tend to gain a deeper perspective of life as a whole. The trick is, though, you can’t go into your travels as a fanny pack-touting tourist that’s only interested in “seeing the sights” and hitting up the pristine beaches.

Here’s a good litmus test for you: if you expect everyone to talk to you in your native language as you travel, you’re not in the right headspace.

If you take the time to travel, make sure to do so with the specific purpose of seeing the world outside of your own comfort zone. How are other cultures different from your own? How do other geographic areas affect how people live? What does a developing or war-torn country truly look like?

If you set out with this perspective, you’re much more likely to have your heart and mind opened in ways you never could have expected.

9. Try to Be More Aware

Finally, we have one last, gigantic call to action: be more aware.

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If a person can truly foster the ability to pay attention to everything around them, they develop the ability to break free from the self-centered mindset that all humans naturally slip into when we’re not paying attention.

Just to clarify, this isn’t a call not to pay attention to your own thoughts and needs. They’re important too. In fact, the Dalai Lama said,

“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion.”

Whether it’s ourselves at first or others afterward, truly developing the ability to be aware of and empathize with the life that goes on in and around us is a critical part of understanding just why we’re all alive in the first place.

So, What Exactly Is Life About?

Hopefully, by this point, you don’t really expect an absolute answer to that question. On the other hand, you may not feel it’s a hopeless inquiry, either.

Remember, the reason we don’t have a good answer about what life is about is that it’s too complex to fit into words in the first place!

The complexities and nuances of a “good life” are so profound that they take an entire lifetime of exploration — both of ourselves and the world around us — to even begin to formulate an answer. And even then, we’ve typically only scratched the surface.

When you break it down, the meaning of life is so deep and valuable, it’s worth chasing, even if the end goal is only to catch a glimpse of the glory that keeps us all moving forward day after day.

More About the Meaning of Life

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

Reference

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