Ambition or Greed – Choose the Right Emotion

Love or Obsession? Admiration or Jealousy? Ambition or Greed – choose the right emotion. Our emotions define the quality of our life’s experiences. As a first step to self awareness, we should start to realize our emotions and gain an understanding about why they exist.

A lot of us exist at the plane of action and behaviour; we don’t know or understand the importance of thoughts and emotions and how they influence our actions.

Ambition or Greed? How do they differ? There is a fine line between the two which is blurred in today’s fast-paced world. Every individual should realize the difference and choose wisely.

Greed makes you self-centered. It makes you rise up the hierarchy at the expense of others. This is naturally so, since the ultimate objective is for yourself. Greed is believing that you should own it all because you have deserved it. Ambition, however, is a whole new ballgame.

Ambition is about having the desire to create positive change. It is about selflessly working for a cause. Ambition is about bringing others on board your ship too. It is realising that the seas are wide and that everyone can set sail, but you dare to set first.

Physical vs Emotional Comfort

When we experience emotions that cause us to feel drained or unhappy, we need to introspect and discover the worth of such emotions. One of the emotions that spiritual gurus and religions warn against is Greed. In fact, some religions label the emotion of Greed as a sin. When we experience greed, we feel a need, a dissatisfaction, a wanting sort of emotion.

It is the exact opposite of experiencing the positive emotion of contentment and satisfaction. Also, a person who gets into the habit of feeling negative emotions like greed, lack, and wanting will have trouble creating the positive emotions of adequacy and contentment. Associated with greed is the emotion of emptiness which lowers a person’s self-esteem.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed. ~ Mahatma Gandhi (Tweet this)

We live in a materialistic world these days that has a huge range of items to make our lives comfortable. But some introspection will reveal how much discomfort that material items we cannot afford to purchase actually add to our lives. When a person experiences a lack, a need, a wanting or emptiness, jealousy and low self-esteem—which are all associated with experiencing Greed—can we call the person comfortable?

Material items are all great and positive and we should surely enjoy the physical comforts they add to our life. But, we must be careful not to trouble ourselves emotionally if we can’t afford certain items.

A Case in Point

The subprime mortgage crisis that brought global markets and economies crashing down is a clear example of runaway greed. Risky subprime mortgages that carried high risk of default were packaged into derivatives which were not only traded widely but companies like Lehman Brothers leveraged as much as six times their total worth and gambled that entire amount in subprime-mortgage-linked derivatives in order to make a killing.

When the defaults started happening in the subprime mortgage market, all the derivatives that were riding on subprime mortgages went bust. Along with them, companies like Lehman Brothers, investment banks and many banks with significant exposure to subprime-mortgage-linked derivatives or to companies that had invested heavily in such instruments went under.

Before you could say Jack Robinson, the contagion had spread to equity markets and soon to economies across the globe necessitating a massive period of government-led rescue efforts of corporates, banks and the economy. This entire economic crisis was eminently avoidable and was manufactured by the greed of people out to make a killing in the markets.


Ambition or Greed – choose the right emotion, for Greed is a disregard of responsibilities. Ambition involves a management of priorities. There is a fine line that exists between several emotions and one must be careful not to cross over to the other side to the negative emotion. Life is, in many ways, like walking on a rope and the one who walks with balance is the real winner.

The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise. ~ Maya Angelou (Tweet this)

Ambition is positive while Greed is negative, Love is positive while Obsession is negative, Admiration is positive while Competition is negative . . . the list can go on and on. Choose the right emotion and experience the difference.


About the Author

Supradeep Mukherjee is an author, trainer and broadcaster. Educated at Hindu College and the Delhi School of Economics, he has consulted with a number of corporate organisations, radio stations and academic institutions. His areas of interest include Personal Development, Parenting, Relationships and Lessons in Living from Mythology.

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