This country was built on the American dream, where everyone is driven by the primary belief that if you could dream it, you could achieve it. And you never want to stop at where you are at. Our capitalistic society has taught us to look upon what others have and allow it to motivate us to want it, too. But, when did we allow things to consume us to the degree that nothing we acquire satisfies us?
Consider gambling. Some people get hooked on the rush, regardless if they win or lose. Once they get a taste, they keep chasing the high. They want it again and again, until either they’ve achieved it or they lost it all. Not to say that dreaming big means losing everything, but the insatiable bottomless pit of need can become a terrible addiction. Greed devours and always destroys. Nothing good can ever come from greediness, no matter how good the prize might look at the end. What greed creates, it destroys. When our monetary hunger is never satisfied, we are driven to achieve at all cost. Competitive people are full of greed, and most competitive individuals function best when they are outperforming everyone around them.
Competitive people know that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. They do whatever needs to be done to achieve their primary objective. The end justifies the means. Acquisition is the name of the game. Self worth is a reflection of what one has attained. You rarely hear someone say that they don’t care to make anymore money then they are currently making. Usually the more money someone makes, the more they are not content with what they have. It’s chasing the dragon. We work and work, but for what gain? How much is enough, and will any of us ever truly be satisfied?
It’s not often that a person comes along and decides to give up all their material possessions in the hope of changing lives. It’s rare for a wealthy, affluent and educated lawyer to decide to reject all possessions. Mahatma Gandhi was born wealthy and eventually became an educated lawyer. He later would not only give up eating meat to become a vegetarian, but he also decided to take the vow of aparigraha (non-possession), samabhava (equability), and brahmacharya (vowing abstinence against sexual relations, even with his own wife), influenced by the sacred text of the Hindu, the Bhagavad Gita. Gandhi is considered today to be the father of the independent movement and a proponent of helping those living in poverty. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Gandhi is famous for saying, as he was the ultimate example of what he taught and spent his entire life mastering – humility.
Unfortunately, there was and always will remain only one Mahatma Gandhi in our history books. No one today is expected to give away all their wealth to live off the land or on some organic farm, wear a robe, go without sex, and meditate to become enlightened. But we do have those that are abundant and are rumored to be the 21st century types of Gandhi-like givers with big hearts. Oprah Winfrey is one such example of true altruism, as she’s been known to give away cars, money and more to those in need. And while some of us may not be rolling in Oprah’s kind of wealth, we should try to learn from successful individuals like her, who millions believe in because of her charity and her heart.
What are you known for? Being a competitive individual who will stop at nothing to rise to the top? Or do you genuinely care about those around you? So, you’ve got a lot of money. Maybe you’ve got great initials after your name due to your education and status in life. Good for you. But, how much do you really need? And can you honestly say you are satisfied with what you have? Or has it started to consume you? There’s a fine line when you start to acquire things.
Today, there is only one Oprah Winfrey. It’s truly hard to find successful, yet truly charitable people. Some hold great worldly wealth but are poor in spirit. How much should we acquire before we can say that we are happy? I know this is rather cliché, but it’s my belief that no amount of money in the world can buy happiness. While having money definitely helps, it isn’t everything. And I think that once people start acquiring lots of money, greed eventually takes over. Money can change your life in a good and bad way. I’ve seen money change people’s personalities as well. Humility goes out the door and people stop being down-to-earth. Just because you are accomplished and wealthy doesn’t mean that your ego has to infect the situation. Neither your things nor your education should define who you are.
Here’s a question: If you had to give up everything (and I mean everything), could you and would you? Even if you have kids and a family and had to live simply without all of your possessions? I don’t think most of us could or would. We are living in the century of more is better. When are we ever going to go back to humility, giving to others and living simply? I don’t know if we can. I am skeptical of wealth and success and if altruism is possible anymore. If it is, it’s very few and far between. Where money is involved, greed often takes hold. It’s just reality.