The Ten Evils (Part Two)

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
Greed, by Liz West

Greed
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 figting!»
Don’t take pictures of me while I’m fighting!, by Tambako the Jaguar

Anger
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.

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8 thoughts on “The Ten Evils (Part Two)

  1. Steven says:

    I disagree that you shouldn’t let anger drive you. You shouldn’t let it control you, and you shouldn’t act out of anger, but it can be a very powerful motivator. For me, when there is something that makes me angry, it gives me energy to change my situation and improve my life. I use it to push myself through challenging situations.

    And it seems like you’re suggesting people bottle up their emotions. This is bad advice. People should communicate their emotions, and express them, but they should do so in a mature and responsible way. Blowing up isn’t a mature way to behave, but to suppress your emotions and not share your feelings isn’t healthy.

  2. TLS says:

    I agree with Steven. There is nothing wrong with anger, it is one of the basic emotions. The problems come when you don’t deal with it properly.

    I occasionally get angry, and have been told time and again, “You shouldn’t be angry,” while there are good reasons for me feeling this way. (For the record, I am a woman, and a lot of people seem to feel uncomfortable with female anger especially.)

    Feel it, express it in a mature way, communicate it as needed and make changes as necessary. Take a walk to blow off steam if you need to. Repressing anger (and other strong emotions) is what leads to blow-ups and serious dysfunction later on.

  3. em says:

    @Steven: it seems to me that he doesn’t suggest bottling it up at all. he suggests doing things to control it such as exercise, meditation, and lower your stress. Anger can be a good motivator, I agree. But only if you are able to take that anger and rationally think about the situation before reacting. But that doesn’t mean its the anger that drives you, its the need to not be angry again that drive you. Acting when you are still in the heat of your anger is dangerous. Just my thoughts on the matter.

  4. kristine says:

    Ajax123

  5. sillygirl says:

    It might be even more helpful to realize that anger is only the scab on the wound – the root is somewhere in fear or frustration or hurt. Untying those knots will release energy to do something in a positive direction – perhaps what people are thinking about when they say anger motivates.

  6. Maya says:

    I am really loving this series of posts so far. Trent, you bring a nice perspective to these abstracts.

    On the subject of anger I sometimes wonder if there isn’t value in distinguishing between two different types: Anger that raises adrenaline and causes someone to say or do something they later regret, versus anger that motivates someone to take action against a wrong in a constructive, long term manner.

  7. kristine says:

    Maya- I agree.

    I think the type of anger you refer to is better called righteous indignation. Without anger, even outrage, there would never have been a civil rights movement in this country. And women would still be considered property. It is because those treated unfairly got angry enough to act, not because people just calmly looked around and said, hey, you know what? Maybe women should vote too, and maybe all our kids should go to school together. Heck, let’s pass an amendment today…pass the coffee, please.

  8. tentaculistic says:

    I would have expected “greed” to have been taken in a whole other direction than scarcity vs abundance, at least on this website. Always interesting what thoughts get touched off on any topic, and how different people would have talked about totally different things!

    “Listen to others. Don’t just wait for them to take a breath so you can interject your own thoughts.” I never thought of that kind of conversational style as greedy, but I guess it is. I get very impatient, and find myself doing that way too often. One of the things I remember the clearest from Last of the Mohicans (the book – I remember pretty much everything from the movie since it had Daniel Day Lewis in it!) was how it talked about the way in which Hawkeye and his Indian brother and father spoke with each other, especially in disagreement – with thoughtfulness, pausing to absorb the other’s statement and really think about it with an open mind, being willing to be convinced, not just listening enough to make a counterargument and thus win the argument. I read that 15 years ago, and it stuck with me.

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