Greed Makes You Sick

“The diseases of the rational soul are long-standing and hardened vices, such as greed and ambition — they have put the soul in a straitjacket and have begun to be permanent evils inside it. To put it briefly, this sickness is an unrelenting distortion of judgment, so things that are only mildly desirable are vigorously sought after.”


Greed causes a person to do crazy things — things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. So does ambition. These vices make people behave outside themselves, outside the bounds of what they generally know to be ethical behavior. It’s as if they cause you to forsake your morals.

They put your “soul in a straitjacket”, as the quote from today’s entry in The Daily Stoic explains. The real you gets hamstrung by some sort of out-of-control force that wants what it wants. Like Seneca said, “this sickness is an unrelenting distortion of judgment,” meaning that that your normal mind and reasoned choice are crippled and unresponsive.

You end up craving and wanting things that you ordinarily wouldn’t. “Things that are only mildly desirable are vigorously sought after.” It sounds like addiction. It sounds like mental illness. And it is! Greed makes you sick, on the inside.

But you will end up with less than nothing. Because greed gives you nothing.

And because greed is a form of fear, you will find yourself enslaved by that fear. Always wanting, always craving — an illness that knows no end, and no satisfaction. There’s never any pleasure.

Resist! Fight back against the illness of greed!

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