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You're allowed to want more

"Nice people don't want more"

I want more money.

There, I’ve said it – The Unspeakable. And, to be honest, it felt fucking uncomfortable.

Because “nice” people, “good” people, don’t want more money and material shit, do they? Nice, good people are grateful for what they have. They are givers, not takers. They value and appreciate what they have rather than hankering after more.

Wanting more money makes us feel that we are – or will be judged to be – ungrateful and greedy.

Call me cynical (I answer to most things), but maybe this has something to do with long-term historic social conditioning by the few who have the most to keep the many who have less from going after more. Various religious doctrines have ably abetted this, with the (admittedly probably rather distorted) message of “Yes, things are pretty shit for you in this life – but if you don’t keep your head down and play nice, you’re going to have an even shittier time in eternity/your next life.”

Is wanting more ungrateful?

I think we can all agree that it’s ungrateful and, frankly, very wearing, when someone disregards what they already have and constantly whinges on about all that they don’t have. However, wanting more isn’t necessarily like that, is it?

Wanting more can be a direct result of appreciating what you have. Take cake, for instance (don’t mind if I do!): if you want a second slice, it’s because you enjoyed the first one. It’s possible to be truly grateful for what you have and also to want more of it. Especially if it’s cake. But please do feel free to come up with your own non-cake-based analogy if you prefer (I’m all about everyone shining their own weird and wonderful light, after all!!).

“New Age” spiritual thinking around the Law of Attraction and manifesting emphasises the importance of an abundance mindset. This way of looking at things makes gratitude key to receiving more: it’s by really tuning into your feelings of appreciation for all that you have that you start to attract more of it. I love the way this turns on its miserable head the idea that gratitude requires you to stay exactly where and as you are.

Is wanting more greedy?

OK, if wanting more isn’t necessarily ungrateful, is it greedy?

I did a quick google search for the definition of greedy and the first result that came up was: “having or showing an intense and selfish desire for wealth or power.”

I’m a little perplexed by the inclusion of “intense”. The more than 640 million people living below the World Bank’s poverty line of $2.15 per day probably feel a pretty intense desire for wealth, and who the hell would call that “greedy”? Further googling reveals that “wealth” is an abundance of money. Who gets to define abundance, I wonder? Compared to the aforementioned 640+ million people, those on the UK’s national minimum wage of £10.42 per hour have an abundance of money. Compared to the world’s billionaires, though? Not so much.

Of course, if someone wants more with no regard for any damage they do to others in the process of acquiring it, then “selfish” seems like a fair enough label, as does “greedy fucking bastard”. To return to the cake analogy (because why not?), this is taking a second slice when others haven't had any yet.

But a desire for more money doesn’t have to be selfish, does it?

Person A and Person B both want more money. Person A steals from their employer, and Person B takes on a second job. Are one, both or neither of them selfish?

Person A wants more money to pay for potentially life-saving treatment for their terminally ill child. Person B wants more money to buy a sports car. Are one, both or neither of them selfish?

I’m not suggesting there are correct answers to those questions, by the way. My point is simply that our views on whether wanting more money is greedy shift depending on the circumstances of the person who wants it, what they want it for, and how they go about getting it.

What we want isn't more money...

And do we ever want money just for the sake of having money? Maybe what we want is not more money but more of what money does for us.

Even the person who saves and saves without spending is unlikely to want the money simply because they enjoy sitting and looking at it: they want the protection and security it brings, the knowledge that they have the means of looking after themselves and their loved ones in difficult times.

What if I’d started this blog by saying that I want more security, freedom, peace, joy, growth, kindness, laughter, love, light…more happiness? Would I have felt or been considered greedy or ungrateful?

Of course, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that money doesn’t buy happiness (eg a walk in nature can bring joy to the soul and costs nothing). But it’s also true that money helps to remove many issues that can cloud our happiness, and enables us to do much that promotes happiness, both for ourselves and others (that walk in nature brings a lot less joy if you can’t afford the glasses you need in order to see where you’re going).

And the same is true for all the good stuff I listed. Money helps. And if we’re talking about something like wanting security for ourselves and those we care about, then a bit of cold, hard cash is pretty damn vital, isn’t it?

Maybe “I want more money” is simply shorthand for “I want more of the good stuff that I really value in my life.” For me, that feels far more comfortable - how about you? And what would more money bring more of for you?

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