Greed is a powerful motivator. Defined, the word means “an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.”
Worry, on the other hand, is a very different emotional state. If greed is “intense, selfish desire,” worry is “a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.”
They are different, but I’m starting to recognize they might have more in common than we think. Because, in many regards, they produce the same negative outcome in our lives.
Greed and worry have the same effect: The accumulation and possession of more things for ourselves than we need. And subsequently, the missed opportunity and joy of giving to others.
Both worry and greed keep us from living our best lives in the same way.
From the outside, we recognize greed as blatantly negative, maybe even evil. It is something we assign to others, but rarely see in ourselves. Greed has far too many negative connotations to ever assign the motivation to our own hearts and minds.
Worry, on the other hand, is rarely seen as such a negative emotion. In fact, we sometimes use the phrasing with pride, “Oh, I’m just a worrier.” Or perhaps even more frequently in passing, “I’m just worried that…..”
Worry, you see, is more culturally accepted than greed.
Worry is seen as prudent and wise, even thoughtful at times. But don’t be fooled, there is a likelihood it is producing the exact same result in our lives as greed and selfishness.
It keeps our fists tightly clenched on money and possessions.
It seems to me there are only two reasons that keep people with means from being more generous with their money and possessions. Either 1) they intentionally want to keep as much for themselves as they can (greed), or 2) they are so worried about the future they can’t imagine giving away money or time to someone else (worry).
Two very different emotional states… but the same result.
We would benefit from recognizing their presence in our lives. And taking intentional steps to overcome them.
If either condition is present, the antidote is to intentionally pursue their counterparts: selflessness and hope.
Through selflessness, we give ourselves to others. We take the very resources (time, money, energy, talents) used for selfish gain and spend them on someone else.
Selflessness is often overlooked as a key to happiness and living our best life because it appears to run contrary to the very notion. But only when we embrace service and selflessness do we find lasting significance. Selflessness benefits the receiver and it benefits the giver. It is the ultimate win-win situation.
Hope, on the other hand, is the counterpart to worry. While worry brings anxiety by focusing on the problem, hope directs our attention to the solution. It allows us to see the obstacle through a different lens and replaces debilitating worry with life-giving expectation.
It frees us to become generous and giving. When we worry less about what we will eat or drink in the future, we open our eyes to those around us who are unable to eat today. And we are freed to give out of our excess.
May each of us live our lives to their greatest potential. And may we no longer allow greed or worry to keep us from them.