This was originally one exceptionally long post. I chose to split it into five pieces for readability purposes. I’ll post a segment each day this week.
As mentioned previously, I was recently leafing through a book at the library discussing Japanese martial arts (I believe it was Budo Secrets) when I came upon a sidebar that listed the ten evils that prevent people from improving themselves.
As I read through the list, I couldn’t help but see how each of these evils – or character flaws, as I would perhaps describe them – have held me back in my finances, my career, and my life in different ways.
While thinking about these ten terms, I consulted a dictionary and spent some time reflecting on how each of these has held me back – and can hold you back, too.
(I decided to highlight these evils with some wonderful Creative Commons photographs that illustrate each of these traps.)
Here are the third and fourth evils from that list. You can check out the first two evils as well.
Greed, by Liz West
A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved.
Whenever I think about greed, my mind turns to an idea I’ve talked about many times on The Simple Dollar, the balance between abundance and scarcity.
A mindset of scarcity is a breeding ground for greed. It believes that there is a certain limited amount of anything and that the only way to get ahead is by grabbing what you can and holding on tight. If someone else gets a raise, it doesn’t mean that the company is doing well, it means only that you’re getting less – at least in the mind of a person with the scarcity perspective.
A mindset of abundance, on the other hand, believes that there is an unlimited amount of most things and that grabbing and holding onto things is rarely the way to get the most out of your life and career. If someone else gets a raise, that’s reason to celebrate because it indicates that the company is doing well and that a valued co-worker is getting appreciated for their contributions. In the mindset of abundance, someone else getting something is only a net positive for you by association.
A mindset of scarcity makes it very hard to succeed in life. Your primary drive is to take resources and keep them from others. Alliances only serve to enhance how much you accumulate – and when an alliance doesn’t enhance your situation any more, it can be tossed aside. A mindset of scarcity is a long sequence of burnt bridges, financial difficulties, and dead ends.
A mindset of abundance is a source of success. It enables you to step back and see the broader picture. You’re able to make choices that don’t necessarily serve your needs, but improve the situation of those around you. A consistent habit of doing this creates a situation around you that’s full of lasting value and, often, lasting wealth.
The opposite of greed is generosity, and it’s a powerful virtue to have. When you aid others in a genuinely meaningful way, that aid lifts their life in a positive direction. By direct consequence of the things you share with that person, your life is lifted in a positive direction.
Listen to others. Don’t just wait for them to take a breath so you can interject your own thoughts.
Celebrate when others succeed. Their success is never a negative for you, even if they’re getting the exact promotion you hoped to get.
Share your knowledge, your skills, and your time, particularly when what you have to give comes easy for you and very hard to the recipient.
These are acts of generosity and abundance. These acts serve to build up those around you, and we as humans always strive to meet the best of those around us. Raise them up and you raise yourself up by association.
Don’t take pictures of me while I’m fighting!, by Tambako the Jaguar
A strong feeling of displeasure, hostility or antagonism towards someone or something.
Anger is an incredibly strong emotion, one that often clouds our ability to make good decisions in a situation. When we’re driven by anger, we lose touch with our own ability to read situations and respond appropriately. Even worse, an angry person often distorts how others react, as interacting with an angry person is much different than interacting with a calm person.
Anger drives people away. It alters our ability to understand those around us. It reduces their ability and desire to be fully honest with us out of fear of our anger. It creates relationships based not on mutual respect and trust, but on fear and careful manipulation.
Anger is the killer of strong relationships.
The opposite of anger is peacefulness and calmness, the ability to address a situation without your own emotions boiling over the top. Not only does it maintain your own ability to make good decisions in a situation, it also keeps the people around you from moving into an emotion-based state from which little good can come.
One of the most useful tactics for managing one’s anger and encouraging peacefulness is to simply reduce one’s stress level. When I am under stress, I am sometimes quick to anger. Whenever that happens, I always see later on that not only did I take actions that caused the situation to turn out worse, I also caused the people I interacted with to interact with me differently, both then and often afterwards. It’s yet another reason why it’s worthwile (for me) to focus on minimizing my stress whenever and wherever I can.
I tend to de-stress through exercise and meditation. Whenever I exercise and meditate daily, my stress level is naturally lower and I’m able to maintain a level of peacefulness in my life, which is the backbone of the strong relationships in my life.
I also de-stress by getting adequate sleep. When I am exhausted, I tend to respond emotionally to everything in both positive and negative ways. When I am fully rested, I am able to check my emotions, particularly my negative ones.
Anger is a natural feeling, but it should never drive you. It can be controlled and, for the sake of your relationships and your life, it should be controlled.