Nietzsche once said that "possessions are usually diminished by possession" and if that doesn't make sense now, it will once you ponder these greed quotes about avarice, ambition and breaking free from both. To free yourself from greed, you have to chop at desire's emotional roots and these greed quotes do just that.
- "To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness." In this quote about greed, mathematician Bertrand Russell calculates how much you lose by fixating on stuff you want to possess. Addicted to the ecstasy of acquiring more objects, your joy shrivels up and dies because you never stop to appreciate what you have; on the contrary, your life—like that of a junky's—is all about the next fix. Denying yourself that new tablet computer or big screen TV will remind you what's it like to not have something, making you appreciate what you do have all the more.
- "My greatest skill has been to want but little." When Henry David Thoreau gave up everything he owned to go live in a cabin at Walden Pond, he experienced the freedom of living simply, without greed. This is why he believed "there is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of life getting his living." Whenever you find yourself comparing your car or suit to the slick stuff the office big shot sports, remember this greed quote and imagine the noble things you could be doing instead of working so hard to get them.
- "Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: You want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment." Mark Twain's quote about greed hits on a truth any "Mad Men" fan should already know: Stuff is never just about stuff. You might lust for weeks after that new sports car, but the minute your friends make fun of it, your desire dies. That's because you never really wanted the car in the first place; you wanted the status.
- "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind." The character of Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street" took a lot of flack for coming out in favor of greed, but maybe he has a point. After all, greed isn't just about possessions or money; it's also about the drive to achieve a better life. The problem, though, is that Gekko confused ambition with aspiration and someone like that can never find satisfaction; he will always want more. Don't make that mistake.
- "An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit." As Pliny the Younger's greed quote reminds you, most pleasure comes from the hunt and the chase, especially if you perpetually want more. If that shiny new smartphone lost its luster the minute you handed over your credit card, consider that it might have been your greed—not your need—driving you to buy it. That's because greed is rarely about real desire; it's all about acquiring, getting, winning and buying.