How to Understand and Overcome Greed

In our quest to become a good human being, we have to face a tough enemy called greed.

Greed is nothing but the endless desire to get more and more things in life. Greed is what dictates our actions and thoughts, if we aren’t cautious enough. It’s greed that tells you to grab that larger piece of pie, or that bigger pack of chips.

Greed is thinking about yourself most of the time, without caring about what the other person feels. Greed destroys friendships, relationships, and is the root cause of bigger mankind troubles like war and corruption.

If you don’t control and become aware of it, your greed will only increase with each passing day. And even if you fulfill your every desire you won’t be able to live a happy life, because it’s the nature of greed to desire for another wish when one wish is fulfilled.

Greed doesn’t have any limit. If you think having that big house or a room full of money will satisfy your greed, you’re wrong. Even if you get that, you’ll want an even bigger house and more money.

Greed is dangerous not just for you, but for our whole human race, and every life on this planet. The plants, animals, and natural resources we have here are limited. If we don’t control our greed, we’ll end up destroying this beautiful planet.

It’s simply impossible to fulfill every person’s wish on this planet. But, if we can’t fulfill our wishes won’t that make us unhappy?

There is a good news. Greed cannot be satisfied, but yes it can be controlled. You can control your desires, and yet live a happy, peaceful and satisfied life.

And no, that doesn’t mean you have to keep low goals in life, or kill your dreams. It only means understanding what you need and what you don’t.

But before you overcome your greed, you have to understand it’s true nature. Why greed arises in your mind? What makes us want that bigger piece of pie? Why we act greedily again and again?

Greed needs an object of desire, something you must have once you’ve seen it. This object of desire can be anything – a chocolate, drugs, gadgets, member of opposite sex, or just a larger piece of pie.

The object doesn’t matter; it’s the intention that matters. And overcoming greed means to overcome this intention that arises, whenever you see a desirable object.

Try a small experiment.

Imagine your object of desire in front of you. It can be anything – choose one that means the most to you. Imagine how it would feel if you had it right now? How would you consume it? How you’ll feel after consuming it?

Now as you’re imagining this, try to observe your mind at the same time – How your mind reacts when it sees a desirable object? What your mind thinks, while imagining you consume those objects? How your mind sends you to a fantasy land away from reality? How it makes you react as if you really have that object?

From these observations, can you guess what it is that makes you act greedily?

If not, here is the answer – It’s your mind that makes you greedy and forces you to perform those actions to fulfill your greed. The purpose of this little experiment is to tell you that it’s not your body that needs those things; it’s your mind that makes you think so.

Your hands are not greedy when they try to grab an object; your tongue is not greedy when it enjoys eating; your eyes are not greedy when they want to see something beautiful. The only thing that makes your body act this way is your mind.

It’s as simple as that. There is no mystery, no external research needed to prove it. You can do this research on your own, and get to know firsthand how your mind tricks you into having those objects. And you can do this simply by observing your mind.

Controlling your mind is the key to control your greed.

So, let’s try to understand this process in detail.

When you see your object of desire in front of you, your eyes see it first, but it’s your mind that recognizes that object. Once recognized, the mind tells you to have that object. And then you take action – like pick up that pie and eat it – to fulfill what your mind says.

If you don’t do that action, you’ll feel incomplete in some way. Because your mind tells you to do it, and you didn’t do it. So there is a conflict inside you that makes you uncomfortable. That’s why when some friend takes something you want, you remember that for long time, because your mind makes you feel that you have been deprived of something that should’ve been yours.

Your mind makes you cling desperately to your objects of desire. If you have to overcome greed you’ve to accept that there is greed inside you. You have to remain alert for any situations in which you act greedily. Only then can you overcome greed.

So, let’s see how we can overcome greed with an example.

Suppose you are with a group of friends having pizza. And one piece is significantly larger than all other pieces. What happens now?

Your mind tells you to grab that larger piece, as it knows you like that pizza. And if you take that larger piece, you can enjoy it for longer time. So you go ahead and take that piece, eat your pizza, and later even forget about it.

This cycle continues every time, whenever you face the same situation. If you were to hang out with your friends for the rest of your life, you would do the same thing again and again. Even if you allow others to have it, you won’t feel happy from inside.

But the problem is this greed isn’t limited to a piece of pie. It attaches itself with every little thing you desire that’s supposed to make you happy; happy for a moment, not any longer than that.

So to overcome greed, we’ve to stop ourself from acting the moment a selfish thought comes to our mind. So as soon as the thought to grab a desirable object comes to your mind, stop right there. Don’t take any action. Just observe your mind at that moment.

Just see what your mind is forcing you to do. And once you become aware that you are being greedy, let that thing go, and instead choose the option that does justice to others too.

Again when greed arises, do this same thing. Stop the moment you realize you are being greedy, understand the greed inside you, let it go, and then choose the option that’s best for everyone.

When you practice this way for few times, you’ll realize that you always had the choice to choose between greed and generosity. It’s only that you never thought you had.

Your mind was conditioned to make you act greedily. This conditioning can be caused by several factors – your upbringing, your society, your friends, and even self-learned.

Whatever the reason, the solution is the same. And when you do this for few times, you’ll be able to do it every time. Most humans aren’t greedy by nature. It’s the world that makes them so, and partly they become so due to their own ignorance.

I known how many times I’ve acted greedily in my life. Only now I realize that it was due to ignorance, and nothing else. I thought only about myself while making those choices. It’s only when I grew up and started seeing kindness all around me, that I realized my mistake and, thankfully, learned to let things go.

I can’t tell you how happier it makes you when you let go of greed completely. Sure it isn’t possible to give everything in life. And you’ll cherish some possessions and experiences. But you’ll never do it at the cost of others’ happiness.

Giving up greed is among the best things that happened to me as I grew up. And if you’re like me in any way, then it’ll be among the best things that could happen to you.

Your life will become more peaceful, happier, and satisfactory, when you give up greed in every aspect of your life. Be it friendship, relationships, or people you’ve never met, you’ll want nothing from anyone.

Learn to overcome greed, and you’ll be on your way towards living a simple and meaningful life.

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About Rahul Singh

Hi, I am Rahul Singh. At life beginner, I teach others the way to practice meditation, live with mindfulness, and connect with their consciousness, so that they can find inner peace, lasting happiness, and meaning and purpose in their lives. I'm also the Author of Simplify Now & Keys to Meaningful Life.