The need to acquire material goods and money is commonplace in today’s society, and it always has been.
For certain people, this pursuit can turn into an obsession that can lead to illicit or even illegal behaviors. This is the behavior known as greed; it’s a psychological phenomenon that has been the focus of many studies and debates.
Greed is a powerful factor influencing how we interact with each other in our daily world.
In this piece, ReelNat explores the psychology of greed and the reasons why people are prone to chase wealth at any cost, even if that could mean compromising their beliefs and connections.
ReelNat will also discuss the negative effects of this behavior and provide solutions to overcome the sway of greed.
Table of Contents
What Is Greed?
A selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed | motivated by naked ambition and greed – Merriam Webstar Dictionary
Excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. – Dictionary.com
The insatiable and uncontrollable desire for material wealth or possessions is referred to as “greed” and can also be defined as the unending seeking of power and wealth at any cost.
Greed is a powerful force that causes people to acquire power, wealth, and possessions; it is often expressed as an unsatisfying need for more, often at the cost of others and the common good. Although greed is typically linked to the pursuit of money, it can be observed in other areas like relationships, status, and fame.
A lot of people who are greedy wouldn’t consider themselves as being greedy; however, greed, as defined by the desire to accumulate more than what we really need or deserve in a particular transaction; this requires us to understand exactly what we need to be satisfied and learn to live with this. Someone might say that it’s not about getting what you want but wanting what you’ve got; it may seem naive to some because it sounds like it does not take into account goals, ambition, success, achievement, and the desire to be greater to make and have more, but if our career is solely based on gaining an ever-growing amount of money and fuel our egos, then this behavior without self-control or integrity, it can encourage greedy behavior in the form of loyalty, theft or betrayal, manipulation fraud and, in the simplest sense violence.
A Brief History of Greed
Greed is a universal human desire that has been around throughout the ages. It is traced to ancient texts of religious and philosophical thought, in which it was frequently viewed as a vice or a sin.
In various societies, greed is associated with excess, which is believed to be destructive and can cause personal and social damage.
According to a publication by Academia, the genesis of greed and lust can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the human race. In the early days of human civilization, resources were limited, and people needed to be competitive to access food and shelter as well as other essential needs; this led to the creation of the “survival of the fittest” mentality. It also created a climatic environment where people were driven to obtain the most resources over their fellows for their own survival and success.
As societies became more complicated and complex, the desire for wealth and power was institutionalized. The advent and rise of capitalism within the Western world during the 17th and 16th centuries led to an atmosphere that valued independence and wealth accumulation. The system of economics placed the importance of pursuing profits and encouraged people to focus on their own interests above everything else.
The desire for material wealth is a dominant influence in many societies. According to the study by Oxfam, 2153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion who make up the poorest half of the global population; this huge gap in wealth has been blamed on the pursuit of profits at the cost of environmental and social well-being.
The story of greed can be described as a complicated and multifaceted phenomenon with its roots in the very earliest phases of human development. While the desire for wealth and power may provide motivation and innovation, it could also be destructive, perpetuate inequity, and cause harm.
But what makes some individuals constantly express greedy behavior while others don’t? The answer lies in the realm of their psychological disposition.
Why Are People Greedy: The Psychology of Greed
The concept of greed is part of our human nature, and there are many opinions about whether it is either good or bad because it has fueled technological advancement that has benefited society in certain ways.
The belief is that greed-driven capitalism has helped raise the social standing of low-income people who were able to achieve higher standards of living. Here are some reasons people are greedy.
Fear is a factor that could cause a person to indulge in greedy behavior. A fear of financial struggles or loss could manifest in the form of a desire to acquire more wealth and resources; this anxiety can lead to a lack of generosity and sharing with other people. The ability to overcome fear through meditation, therapy, or other methods can decrease this greedy behavior.
People require money; they need to be able to meet their needs and care for their families. People in poverty always have unmet needs and an ever-growing number of issues that require funds to solve.
Sometimes, they may even borrow to cover their expenses and then borrow to pay back their debt; this is a never-ending cycle of indebtedness. The result is that they feel forced to pursue money at all costs to, at the very least, not get to the point of embarrassment, shame, or guilt; it’s a burden.
The competitive nature of a person can lead them to become extravagant; this may lead to a desire to be better than others and obtain the most resources in competition with another, which can become a consuming obsession; it could result in self-interest and greed.
People who aren’t content are never satisfied with their lives, regardless of the stage they’re at or the status they are. They live in a constant state of desperation, and this affects the way they spend their money and their desire to earn money.
Someone with the mindset of scarcity might believe that there won’t be enough resources available to meet their needs or demands. They might accumulate things or cash for their own survival, although this could be harmful or excessive over the long term. A shift in attitude toward one of abundance could assist in the reduction of this type of anxiety.
Unmet Emotional Needs
Greed is often a result of feelings of trauma or unmet demands. To fill the empty feeling of emotional pain, one may try to make use of objects or possessions. What happens if it becomes an addiction or if there’s not enough money to finance the habit? The constant need for cash.
The feeling of envy is anger or desire for something that another person has. It is a major factor behind greedy behavior when a person tries to get what they think they do not have. Being able to appreciate what one has and cultivating gratitude can reduce the feeling of envy and consequent greed.
People who feel insecure do not think about the things they can do. They are always comparing themselves to others and feel inadequate; they are always looking to live against a set standard, leading to an over-desire to earn money.
Insufficiency of Compassion
An absence of empathy or compassion for others could lead to an individual’s inability to share wealth or resources. An individual who is greedy might view their needs as more significant than other people, which can lead to a tendency to accumulate wealth. The development of compassion and empathy will aid in reducing this kind of greed, and by the way, be careful because even empathy for others can become toxic.
By gaining empathy, you can imagine yourself in another’s position and feel how they’re experiencing a feeling, but sometimes, people begin to practice toxic empathy to the point of offering emotional support and assistance to those around them and do not realize how it affects their mental health and well-being.
Toxic empathy does exist and can be detrimental to your mental well-being; the toxic effect of empathy is when you are prone to over-empathizing with other people, which can trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, and exhaustion.Read More: Toxic Empathy: When Compassion Turns into a Burden and How to Protect Yourself
The desire to have material possessions could be the main factor in excessive desire. People can be enticed to things that are material and feel that they must accumulate increasing quantities of them. Realizing the fragility of material possessions and focusing on relationships and experiences can be a way to combat this urge to accumulate material things.
Gambling addiction, addiction to substances as well as other forms of addiction may fuel the need for more resources, which can lead to a sense of greed. Becoming aware of addiction and the root causes behind it can aid in tackling the root of this type of greed.
Unconsciousness about oneself can lead to excessive behavior. It can be difficult to identify one’s own patterns of behavior, specifically those that are damaging or over the top.
Impacts of Greed
You may be wondering how the over-indulgent desire for money can lead to poverty. When desperation is a result of desire and impulsive decisions, it can lead to bad choices. For people who are desperate, the need to make money quickly frequently overpowers their ability to make rational choices, and this can lead to incorrect financial decisions, which could result in the loss of funds you have.
Greed can be a cause of debt. When you take on loans to pay for the requirements of a certain lifestyle, it can put you in a difficult position financially because you don’t have the money to support that level of living. How are you going to finance it? Plus, taking out loans to invest in schemes that aren’t legitimate since they promise to pay you 10 times your investment in just 5 days is a joke. What happens if they don’t fulfill their promises?
Have you met anyone who manages their money with no strategy? They save and save without end, but not with the intention of creating wealth. In the midst of a lack of funds and the desire to soften their burden, they do not spend or invest the money they have. It’s difficult for someone with this attitude to overcome poverty.
Susceptibility to fraud
A desire to earn money fast makes you vulnerable to scams and fraud. There are people who have ridiculous and absurd terms that play on the desperate nature of greedy people.
We can’t discuss the effects of greed on people without also mentioning how it can put you in a position to scam those close to you. A greedy individual will be more inclined to be deceitful in their dealings with others, particularly when it comes to finances; they can be manipulative and take any action to satisfy their desires, including defrauding others of their hard-earned money.
Unhealthy money habits
The greedy nature of our society can lead to unhealthy spending habits such as gambling, buying too much, and more. What is the reason people bet and gamble even while it’s unfit for them? One of the results of being unhappy is finding yourself confronted with situations where you need to go over your budget or satisfy a desire that can be detrimental to your financial well-being.
Have you ever encountered an entitled person? They believe that they have the right to everything, even money. If people are motivated by greed, they’re eager to find money everywhere and feel that they are entitled to the income of their relatives and friends. Feeling entitled to the things they did not work for.
Someone with an entitlement mentality may have extreme confidence in themselves or the belief that they should gain from every circumstance.
If someone who has an ego-driven view does not receive what they want, it is not uncommon for them to lash out at people with frustration or anger. Their mood fluctuates frequently and is particularly pronounced when things don’t go their way.Read More: Entitlement mentality: No one owes you anything!
It is ironic that people who are greedy and want to be wealthy tend to overspend. Keep in mind that greed doesn’t just refer to money. A desire in the pursuit of power, status standing and possessions, food, etc., can influence the way you spend money to a detrimental degree.
An unending and constant need for things you don’t have could create anxiety. Constantly trying to figure out how to obtain what you want while keeping a lifestyle at the level you clearly can not afford can cause anxiety, and the stress that comes with it can cause you to make a lot of wrong choices.
Loss of human capital
No one would like to be associated with a person with a greedy and selfish need to make money; this means that greed has the capacity to isolate you from a network of people who can influence you into making better decisions; this goes with saying that it becomes difficult to navigate through situations that require people that can help.
The Effect Of Greed On Your Relationship With Money
Remember the word “excessive” that we use to describe greed.
The excessive need to make money is not the best way to create wealth. Making more money will always be a need because aside from taking care of your personal finances and gaining financial freedom, you should build generational wealth for your children; that is a plus.
This means that you must take more steps than normal to get the ball in motion, but the need for money should be under control enough to keep your financial sanity from making decisions that will harm your financial goals.
The relationship between money and greed is not a positive one. It can create the illusion of wealth, but over the long term, you’re likely creating bad habits with money and losing money.
Quick question: have you been a victim of Ponzi scams? And why do you think, regardless of the results, people continue to be victims?
There are legitimate and good reasons to require more money, but have you considered whether your urge is driven by greed? When greed becomes the primary driver in your decision-making regarding money, it can cause greater harm than benefits, and it is possible that you will never reach the point where you believe you’re in good shape because greed leads to more greed, and it’s an endless cycle.
How To Overcome Greed: Breaking The Cycle Of Greed
Greed comes in different forms. Some say giving means lacking what you will need in the future. Others think there isn’t enough to give to others yet, and for others, accumulating and keeping as much as they can would help them get ahead. All these are greedy mindsets.
So the big question is, how do you beat the urge to be greedy?
Quit The Scarcity Mindset
The concept of scarcity is the belief that you don’t have sufficient resources to give away. Whatever amount of money or fame, status, and clothes (whatever you are looking for to feed your greed), you will continue to feel that there is not enough to give away.
If you’re a person who has the mindset of scarcity:
- It might be difficult to share your possessions.
- You will continue to feel inadequate.
- You will complain over and over again about not having enough something.
If these words sound like you, then you’re likely a victim of greed due to the scarcity mindset and you probably learned this from someone else who was also suffering from the mindset of scarcity as well.
If you decide to let go of the fear of scarcity, the journey to a life of abundance starts, and greed starts to leave you.
Build the Abundance Mentality
The exact opposite of the mindset of scarcity, the abundance mindset can be a key to immense success in all areas of life. The abundance mindset is the faith that there’s lots available for anyone looking.
As Napoleon Hill’s famous quote, “You are what you think about,” when you believe in abundance, you’ll have plenty.
The word “abundance” refers to a large amount of. If you search for it, there are several possible meanings, such as ample quantity, relative plentifulness, affluence, or wealth.
The Law of Abundance is a universal law that states that everything we can ever desire is abundant, available, and at our fingertips. According to the law of abundance, there’s an endless abundance of energy, love, success, wealth, health, and whatever you desire.Read More: The Law Of Abundance – How To Manifest Your Desire And Change Your Life
Stop Comparing Yourself
Comparing yourself with others causes you to fall into the trap of greed, as you would like the same things that others do, but the experiences and possessions that others enjoy are endless, so if you want to be able to match their lifestyles, your ambitions won’t end. You’ll continue to want more and accumulate more until limitless levels.
Instead of looking at the things that others have, concentrate on the things you own by using your resources wisely instead of thinking about how you could have what others have on the basis of comparison.
As with any other habit that is good, it is possible to be generous. The practice of this virtue will allow you to be better at generosity because the more you are involved in the pursuit of doing the best for others, the greater your soul’s desire to assist others, and more opportunities to show more generosity will be presented to you. You can not be greedy if you truly do things from the point of generosity.
Develop A Gratitude Attitude
It is gratitude that fuels an abundance of generosity. The feeling that you’ve been given something is enough to make you want to share your gifts with others, too. Someone who feels deprived isn’t motivated to give due to their mindset, feeling victimized and cheated.
Gratitude can be a powerful emotion. We can find the joy we are looking for everywhere else by sending and receiving simple “thank you” messages.
Do you mean to say “Thank you,” or are you just saying it politely? Neuroscientists found that people who feel gratitude when they say it will be happier and healthier. It’s not a new-age fad to express gratitude. It’s an aspect of human nature that reaps real benefits for those who genuinely mean it.Read More: Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain
Network With The Right People
If you don’t know by now, influences rob off on people’s shoulders; we are generally influenced by other people. If you’re trying to alter behavior, it is crucial to surround yourself with people who lead the kind of life you would like to lead; this will help you understand the way they deal with situations and the lessons you can take from their experience.
Networking, for some, is a ladder, a rope, or even a bandwagon. No matter what you think, it has proved to be a necessary benefit for business owners in the 21st century, regardless of whether it’s a small shop like an office cubicle or something like a massive empire.
Networking is crucial for success in all fields; if you’re looking for an employment opportunity, looking to increase your company’s reach, or just looking to make new acquaintances, networking is an essential element.Read More: Networking Quotes to Inspire You to Connect With People
Save And Invest
To overcome your desire to be greedy and have more, you need to be in a position where you’re not selfish and overly lust for money. To achieve this, you must have a sense of security. Saving and investing will help to build a feeling of safety and security in your finances, and you won’t have a perpetual situation of emergency without a backup plan for your finances.
It’s as important as anything else, so don’t get overwhelmed by all you see. Being content with what you are able to do and what you have, regardless of what you observe around you, will make you feel at ease.
Stop Feeding The Greed
If you feed an addiction, it will grow. In the case of greed, you may feed it by:
- Making purchases on impulse.
- Intentionally seeking to make money at the cost of others.
- Inflicting defeat on competition through manipulative behavior.
If you know what leads you deeper into the greed cycle, you know how to starve those things.
Eliminating greed through abstaining from doing things that encourage it is a good way to maintain happiness.
Recognize the Roots Of Your Selfishness
Greed is a sign of selfishness. Where does your selfishness originate from?
The best method to tackle any issue is to address the root of the problem because once you have removed the roots of a bad habit, it will cease to exist.
The roots of greed mostly originate from our experiences since childhood.
Maybe you were raised in poverty and knew that in order to be considered good enough, you must be rich, regardless of the clothing, money, status, or any other material possessions you consider to be important, or maybe you are at the opposite side of the spectrum, where you were raised in a position of privilege. Your wealthy parents esteemed highly the most excellent of excellence, and to impress them, you strived to be the best of the best, but nothing you did was ever considered good enough, and you were required to search for more wins and more, and then you got greedy to satisfy the hunger you felt until it became an unstoppable habit.
The possibilities of greed’s root are endless. All of it is connected to the need to feel good and important – identity concerns.
Self-concept refers to the overall understanding and perception of yourself and how you relate to others. It is formed from your opinions about your personal and social identities. It is based on what you think about yourself and how you view your own life. Self-concept means your perception of yourself and how you see yourself in the world.
Your self-concept can influence how you think, act, and behave in all aspects of your life. A strong self-concept can be developed by taking the time to reflect on your own identity and focusing inwardly.Read More: Concept – The perception of yourself that you have
Remember Those Who Helped You
If it wasn’t for your father or mother, friend or a good samaritan, who do you think your life would be? If they decided not to do anything to assist you because they were just looking to make their own money, where would you be today?
It’s time to emulate the model of the people who gave you a chance, of the ones who refused to give up on you, and of the people who were there when you needed them the most.
The thought alone can give you the power to let go of greed.
Remind Yourself Of Those Who Didn’t Help You
This is not meant to inspire you to hate those who could assist you but choose not to; this is a reminder of times when you felt abandoned, and you might feel compassion for others who are in that same boat.
Tell anyone, “I know what it is like to be in this position, and I’m not going to leave you to feel as depressed as I was.”
Find Compassion for Others
If compassion isn’t there, it is impossible to think of anyone else but yourself, and this leads to greed, but if you choose to share in the feelings of others, it will help you become less stingy and more inclined to assist others.
- Take a look at the sick.
- Listen to the stories from the older people.
- Listen to the plights of other people.
- Visit the disabled.
- Listen to your friend share their problems.
- See the perspective of the poor.
The more you learn about and understand others’ problems, the more compassionate you will become and the more selfless you will be.
Feel The Joy Of Blessing Others
We don’t only give to help meet the needs of others but as a way to put smiles on their faces. It could be a gesture of appreciation or helping an elderly person climb the steps; it is a way to lift their spirits.
If you can take some kind actions and experience the happiness of the recipients, you’ll become enticed by generosity and let go of any desire for greed.
Be The One To Show Love
What’s your objective?
If you want to get rid of the temptation to be greedy, consider living in and being full of love for other people. True love, the genuine kind, will slay every vice because love is the king of virtues.
If you are looking to display love in all that you do, greed will not have a place in your life.
The Purpose Of Having Much Is To Give More
Maybe you’re not aware of the purpose of having a lot; that’s the reason you’ve gotten over-indulgent.
The reason you should have more isn’t to hold and desire more but that you can give to those less fortunate, and more will come.
To give is more blessed than to receive, as they say.
Focus On Impact
The most important thing we do in life is how we impact lives. Everything we own is something that can be used to change lives. If not, our possessions are worthless if it doesn’t affect the lives of others.
Refine Your Self-worth
In the past, we set out to defeat greed by recognizing the root cause of this addiction. We realized that greed, just like other behaviors, originates from a relationship with self-worth.
If you want to eradicate greed from its root and eradicate it from your life, you need to address your concerns of self-worth.
View Money Only As A Tool
Money is just but a tool. So, instead of dwelling on money as it can lead to greed, concentrate on the positive ways you would like to utilize your money.
To better understand this, look at the way you can see your money in terms of a resource to make smart use of.
What Does The Bible Say About Greed
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.Ecclesiastes 5:10 KJV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;Hebrews 13:5 NIV
never will I forsake you.”
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”Luke 12:15 NIV
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.Matthew 6:24 NIV
Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.Proverbs 11:28 NIV
Dishonest money dwindles away,Proverbs 13:11 NIV
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.Proverbs 14:31 NIV
The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live.Proverbs 15:27 NIV
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end.Proverbs 20:21 NLT
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.Proverbs 22:1 NLT
He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.Proverbs 22:9 NKJV
The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.Proverbs 28:22 NIV
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.Proverbs 28:25 NIV
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.
Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.James 5:1-6 NIV
Greed can manifest in a variety of ways and for various reasons, but the main aim is to be a person who thinks not only about themselves but also about the well-being of those in their lives. A life free of greed is achievable and begins with a positive and abundant mindset and confidence in financial security, so you have to be up and doing.