If there is one thing that will ruin your kids’ lives, it’s greed. Teach them while they’re young how to pull the plug on greed and you will have prepared them in a very important way to not only survive but also thrive in the real world. You may want to start with this lesson:
Lesson: How to defeat the enemy that is greed. As you get older, you are going to discover an enemy that everyone has to deal with at some time in his or her life.
This enemy isn’t like the bad guy in your video game or the bully at school who tries hard to make everyone scared and miserable. Even though you cannot see this enemy, you can defeat it by the way you live and the choices you make.
This enemy is “greed.”
What is greed? The feeling of wanting everything you can think of is called greed. Greed is not a good thing. In fact, it’s like a very bad disease. It starts small and, if allowed to grow, it will take over your life.
Greed will make you a very miserable person.
Greed causes temper tantrums and makes people self-centered and arrogant. Greed is very sneaky.
What greed feels like. You know that twinge of envy you felt when your best friend showed you her cool new phone? Or when another friend said really loudly at lunch how his dad is buying him a brand-new car for his 16th birthday?
How about the day you find the new Christmas catalog in the mail — the one with every cool thing in the whole world — and you want every single thing in it.
Multiply that feeling by 10 and you’ll have a good idea what full-blown greed feels like. It’s not good.
The problem with greed. The problem with greed is that it drives us to do things that are hazardous to our futures. Greed says it’s OK to have everything we want now and to figure out how to pay for it later. Greed whispers in our ears, telling us lies that make us unhappy with what we have, where we live or who we are.
Greed is something everyone has to deal with, and the sooner you can learn how to defeat that enemy, the better off, and happier, you will be.
The antidote for greed. “Antidote” is another word for “solution” or “treatment.” The antidote for a terrible ear infection is antibiotics. The antidote for greed is to be thankful for what you have already, not always wishing and hoping for things you do not have.
You prove your gratitude when you are willing to give away part of the “3 Ts”: your time, your talent and your treasure. Everyone, no matter how young or poor, has some or all three.
Time. You get 24 hours every day: 1,440 minutes or 864,000 seconds every single day! No more; never less. You can’t save some of that time today so you’ll have more time tomorrow. How you use your time every day is a reflection of your character.
Talent. This is what you can do. Everyone has special talents — things they are good at doing. There are things you can do easily that others have a difficult time achieving. It’s your talent, and you have been blessed with it. It doesn’t make you better than others, but it makes you unique. You are one of a kind.
Treasure. This is what you have; your possessions. It’s your money, but also your toys, game systems, clothes, collections — everything that you own.
Become a giver. If you have never been a giver, it may seem quite odd for me to suggest you should just give away any of your time, your talent or your stuff. But that is exactly what I mean.
If you want to make sure you are never defeated by greed, learn to be a giver.
When you give to others, it helps you to be grateful for what you have. Giving is the way to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Instead of misery, you feel joy. In place of dissatisfaction, you find contentment.
Give your time. The way you give your time is to volunteer. There are lots of ways kids can volunteer to make their communities better.
Give your talent. Think of ways you can do those things you’re really good at to make someone else’s life easier or more enjoyable. Perhaps it’s your church or school. It might be helping your grandparents understand their new smartphone, or washing windows for a neighbor in only the way you can. You are amazing!
Give your treasure. Giving away part of your money and other possessions is quite simple. Observe a need, then do something about it. You can give to a homeless shelter, to a family going through difficult times, or to your church or other charitable organization.
Become a giver. It will greatly improve your life.
Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living.” Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.