More on Greed Risk and Desire

“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.”

-Chris Rock
europe

Managing money often results in behaviours that might be regarded as greed or human competitiveness . Some folks feel an adrenaline rush at the prospect of making unexpected money. Creating wealth is often perceived to be a vehicle to a better quality of life or standard of living but can also awaken greed, which we began discussing in last week’s post.

Our investing brains come equipped with a biological mechanism that is more aroused when we anticipate a profit than when we actually get one.

Your MOney and Your Brain ~Jason Zweig

Human nature has evolved over millenia in competition with others. Within isolated island smaller tribal communities appear to live in relative harmony, perhaps even without competition or strong desires. With the introduction of external influences, comes desire, competition and inevitably conflict.

The potential of gaining or losing something of value – greed – this culminates in a selfish desire for something. Who of us can free ourselves totally from the desire for a better life?

Better an empty purse than wrongly got money

(Betre tom pung enn rangt skaffa pengar)

Swedish Proverb
Recycled hand bags

Greed is often characterised by a weak capacity for independent judgment with a strong appetite for measuring up against one’s peers.

The pride of dying rich raises the loudest laugh in hell

– John W. Foster

So is competition and desire a unavoidable part of human existence at some point?

Is greed wrapped up in maintaining our reputation? Is it based on our social status or our perceived performance amongst peers?

What do you think of the quotes and sayings here.


Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Join in the discussion of Sunday Sayings* by leaving a comment.

*Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog which has now morphed into Sunday Sayings. I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

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41 thoughts on “More on Greed Risk and Desire

  1. Having never in my life had money – except when we saved up and used it for travelling – this is a concept at a bit of a remove.
    Now, living on the age pension, financial greed is well out of my ken: but I just bought an electric wok, so basic greed isn’t.
    [grin]

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My late father-in-law wasn’t wealthy, but he had enough to meet his needs, and more importantly, his wants. He never desired anything more than what he had. He bought lotto tickets, and I asked him what he’d do with the money if he won it. He said he’d give it to me. He was truly a contented man, and probably the only really content person I’ve ever known.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely gesture of your F-I -L, Chris. I have often thought about teh consequences of lotto winnings and am a little frightened of how it might change one’s life and one’s relationships…. for better or worse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lifestyle choices – good point, Lisa. We often desire a better lifestyle than our means, and some even get into financial difficulties if they rely on credit too much. Living within one’s means is a good way to curtail excesses, don’t you think? If you can’t afford it right now, don’t do it until you can. The idea of saving seems to have lost popularity.

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      • I do agree with that statement, untill you can… I bought a big house with a big loan when I moved to France to run a B&B. I have promised myself when it sells I will buy a little apartment, no loan. For the rest my life is pretty simple.. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the first saying. and if that’s the goal with which money is made , there is less of greed associated but more like necessity. I need wealth to have the freedom to do what i desire truly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Without funds to do the things we need to do and dream of doing is difficult, but that being the case, it is helpful to re-examine wants versus needs. Do we really need the large house with the pool and spa? Or do we merely just want it? Each person’s level of need will differ, but wants are different from needs, in that needs are things that are essential for life, wants are essential for comfort. I sit here with surrounded by plenty of things I wanted and got through desire and money but I did have a time when need had to govern my life, and becoming tired of that lifestyle, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to implement my plans of how to change that. To tie this to the saying, Pratibha, options is what we need to effect change from needs to wants. Needs based lifestyle has limited options, don’t you think? Therefore, one must use creativity and imagination to make that tolerable in one’s own mind. Sadly for society, some might even choose criminal creativity, the majority don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, the adage is ‘The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.’ Not money itself. It’s an inanimate object with no sense of right and wrong and no moral character. Here in the U.S. we have a TV series entitled “American Greed.” They spotlight many real-life instances of people who have become wealthy through illicit means. In many cases, murder is one of the means people use to garner riches, and an exit plan for others. I always note how some of the scams people create are technically ingenious and can only wonder what they could have accomplished if they’d taken a legitimate route.

    We all come into this world naked and screaming; clutching nothing but our souls in our hands. And that’s pretty much how we’re going to leave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Alejandro. We have nothing to begin our lives and take nothing concrete with us when we leave, so we spend all our lives accumulating things! Aren’t we a strange species? With the exception of the bowerbirds, no other species accumulates possession or wealth. Some have better options, but this creation of a society on material wealth is peculiarly human. Has money and desire become our ‘reward’ which governs our behaviour? Why else spend a lifetime accumulating possessions for someone else to dispose of or cherish?

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  5. Dear Amanda, 🙂
    I do believe that the trap of power and money will always catch a multitude of people. But that should not deter us from trying to show them that there is something greater than that…

    But, oh yes, Amanda – I really, really, really want to be rich! I would like to be very rich! Rich – in everything most wonderful and deep. Like love and inspiration and beauty… and money! 😉

    Each and every time I happen to walk nearby one of those old persons who are rummaging in garbage containers. Or poor animals – homeless cats and dogs – trying to gain people’s attention for food and love – I tell myself that maybe, one day, I will be able to help. One day…
    It hurts too much to keep it in, without that hope.

    And also I dream about a line of hotels, where people can not only have a wonderful, relaxing and exciting vacation, but also can learn to love various arts – like painting, photography, stories, poetry, and music – creating a small spark of creativity within them, during their stay there.
    With the hope that they, when they come home from the vacation, will not forget it, but that it may be nurtured and grow…

    Greater than money…

    My blog is an attempt at reaching for the dream. 😉
    (now, where are all the rich sponsors hiding… 😀 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greed is at its most basic rooted in desire, I think. If only desire could be channelled into the betterment of all folks, not just the one or the few. How could we encourage or influence that?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s funny how so many of us associate money with greed. I would say that is true to an extent: some of us are motivated to make more money either because we simply like having more or want to afford more. Others are motivated to make more money because money is a necessity to us and those who are dependent on us.

    Money is a sensitive topic, and in general many of us don’t talk about our money matters (e.g. how much we earn, how much we spend, how much we have in savings) out in the open or even to friends. So from that angle, money is a marker of someone’s social status. I don’t think greed towards money is the only issues, but I think budgeting and learning to save is a skill many of us don’t have. Many people I’ve met look forward to pay week – it’s a time where they can go and buy something for themselves. I’ve always found this very odd. Growing up, my Chinese family was actually quite frugal and my parent always taught me to save first before buying anything. It’s something I do these days and am not someone who counts down to pay day.

    I think you made an interesting point in your comment to Pratibha from distinguishing wants from needs. A lifestyle focused on needs-choices can simplify our life so much: recognise what we truly need, less time spent on worrying about wants which could be wants in just a moment of our lives, less clutter and a more logical mindset. Over the years I’ve lived by this mindset too, buying only what I need or if I am buying something that I want, to be able to justify that as a need in some capacity.

    Also on a random note – people seem to look down on others who work for free (including volunteers). For instance, some writing freelance work I take on is not paid – I don’t have an issue with it because it’s what I want to do. Funny how work should always be tied to getting paid. Well, all of us need work for money but not everything we love doing needs to earn us money.

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  7. Hi Mabel!
    Great comment! Especially regarding distinguishing wants from needs, and pointing out folks who think short term with their money. It reminds me of the movie – The Castle – where the family accumulates all sorts of things they can’t use, simply because they are bargains! Eg. Jousting Sticks! Perhaps this type of buying might stem from a poverty stricken upbringing. The desire to have that freedom to buy ‘whatever tickles their fancy,’ might be a reaction against never having enough money to buy something for themselves when they were younger?
    I am similar to you in that I save up for something I would like, and don’t buy it immediately, with a few exceptions. It frustrates the MOTH as he is a great bargain buyer and seems to have worsened in his retirement! I heard this week that 50 % of Aussies have less than $1000 in their bank account at any one time. Concerning stats!
    Volunteers are so underrated and save companies mega bucks, yet volunteers are seen as pseudo workers with less significance as that of a paid worker.If anything they should have more significance.

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    • You bring up a good point there: when we were young, we might not be able to afford what we want. When we’re older, we might be more in a position to do so, hence splurge. There’s a feeling about being able to buy something for yourself: you’ve wanted it, you’ve waited, you’ve rightfully earned it. If that statistic about what Aussies have in their bank account is right, it is a very concerning one indeed. Cost of living in Australia isn’t that cheap to say the least.

      Volunteers can be looked down upon and what they do is important. However there are some volunteers who think they should be very important. Too often I’ve heard the phrase ‘I’m just a volunteer’ as an excuse to get out of something such as when things are going wrong on the job. At the end of the day, all of us, paid and unpaid, are significant and no one better than the other.

      I am not sure how I did not see your reply, Amanda. My apologies 🙂

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      • No problem with not adding the comment, Mabel. The odd one sneaks through without notification.
        Re volunteers: I guess some folks use this as an excuse if something goes wrong and they don’t want to accept responsibility for it. But they ARE responsible for a mistake they made. In shirking responsibility, they are devaluing their own position and indirectly suggesting that mistakes are a given part of their duties, because they are ‘only a volunteer.’ Everyone makes mistakes but should volunteers aim for a mediocre level of job satisfaction because they are unpaid? Would it be accurate to say that because they are unpaid they are not prepared to bust their gut for the job or strive hard to be accurate?

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      • Being a volunteer comes with responsibility. After all, as a volunteer you are performing work and it’s no surprise quite a few organisations have volunteer inductions explaining a volunteer’s roles and rights. I do think many volunteers put in a lot of effort in volunteering and are well-meaning. But at the end of the day, they have to remember volunteering is not something to take lightly given its responsibilities.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I must admit that I probably spend too much time worrying about money. There was a time in my life where we were deeply in debt and I seemed only to be working to pay my debts. Having $20 to spend was a big deal. It is true money does not bring happiness, but not having it sure brings on a whole lot of unhappiness. We did not live beyond our means in anyway, we just seemed to hit a run of bad luck and were woefully unprepared…wife had major injury, house fire, other unexpected expenses, etc. Lots and lots of stress and I probably didn’t handle it in the best way. Luckily that time is in the past and I now live more defensively. But I still over worry about reverting back to that time and not having money to take of my loved ones properly which brings on so much stress and depression. Live defensively!!

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    • Live defensively! Interesting and many thanks for your comment. My apologies for the late reply to your comment, as I just found it in my spam folder, and quickly un-spammed you!
      I am sure it is a stress to worry about providing for a family as you want to offer them the best chances in life. I have been so very fortunate to have had Income security and a house, for most of my adult life, so I did not feel that pressure except for a short time when I was a young umemployed teen. $20 was hard for me to find in those days too. It made me seek out life choices to ensure that I would not be in that position again. My parents though, grew up in the depression era and have a totally different attitude towards money to me. They are so very frugal, to the point of being obsessive. They ended up with quite a bit, but at the cost of friendship and respect as they jealously guarded their money. A run of bad luck with income can put your behind as you pointed out, and you seemed to have had more than your fair share of that. It must have left a legacy of concern for you. I am glad it has turned out okay for you. I feel like the next generation will be much poorer economically than we were, unless they are one of the lucky few.

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  9. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. To me, there’s a huge difference between overwhelming greed and enlightened self-interest. But human nature, like all of life, is both cooperative and competitive. I agree that that balance can change with circumstances. Now, what we need is a huge shift toward cooperation. Over-arching rule-breaking greed will produce an actual hell on earth. https://petersironwood.com/2018/06/05/the-day-from-hell-why-does-anyone-care/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, Petersironwood. Well observed that all life is either competitive or co-operative. I guess one or the other works best depending on the circumstances and environment as you alluded. With climate change hovering as a shadow over us, I see co-operative behaviour as better skilled at coping than competitive. And really – it is the only way our species will have a chance to survive it and reverse some of the detrimental environmental effects. Thanks for the link. I will take a look.

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