August 9, 2016

How to Balance our Needs and Desires

My last two articles here and here were about attitude. Here are their messages:

  • We can’t allow our circumstances to dictate our level of happiness.
  • The road to optimism is not always easy to navigate.

My talented, kind friend, Aryan Gupta, wants me to continue writing about the theme of our mindset. His request is an extremely practical one:  explore the difference between a small desire and greed. Let’s begin by defining greed:

“Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.”—Google
“A selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.”—Merriam Webster

We all have legitimate needs and desires. It’s only when those wants become obsessive and selfish that they can be labeled as greed. Here’s how some of us live:
  • Stand in line for 12 hours to get a bare minimum of food.
  • Live in teeny apartments, cars, or grass shacks
  • Must choose between medical/dental care and food
  • No indoor plumbing
  • Need to walk for hours to find even filthy water

Naturally, everyone has a reasonable wish to have plenty of food, clean water, shelter, and clothing. These are basic needs. In order to meet these necessities, we require money. Individuals usually have strong ideas about how they want to create income, too.

My husband has made wise choices that allow us to live a fairly comfortable lifestyle. If poverty-stricken individuals saw my house, they might wonder how many people live in it.

I want a nice house, and I am lucky enough to live in one. Let’s look at what happens when greed is taken to the maximum degree:

Louis XIV of France (The Sun King [Le Roi  Soleil])

The selfish and self-centered nature of this most flamboyant of French kings is legendary. He called himself “The Sun King” because he compared himself to the Greek god, Apollo, who was the god of the sun—among many other attributes. What does that tell you about Louis XIV?!!!

This is a portion of his palace, Versailles. I’ve been there; it’s huge.

This is a bedroom in the palace. I would be too intimidated to step into it, let alone sleep in it. It’s the room of a man who loved himself, and only himself.

Nicholas II (The last czar of Russia and the last ruler of the Romanov dynasty)

This is the emperor who allowed his people to starve. He also watched as protesters were shot outside his palace. Nicholas lived in his own little world. He truly had no feeling at all for his fellow countrymen.  

The czar didn’t deprive himself, though. Below are two examples of the kind of jeweled eggs that the House of Faberge would have made for him. Some of them would have cost millions in today’s money. The necklaces Faberge made for Nicholas would have cost almost four times as much as the eggs.

My Conclusion

“Those who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”—Proverbs 11:28 (NIV)
“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)

Each person certainly has a right to work for a comfortable life. When the desire to live well becomes selfish and obsessive, that can lead to greed.

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