The other day a friend and I were talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
We wondered that while some people appear to climb it quickly and get to self actualization early in their lives, others take a long time – or never get there at all. It occurred to us that there is another hierarchy which explains this: the Hierarchy of Greed !
Here’s how it works: You make some money early in your life and you go out and buy yourself, say, a television set. It’s not top of the line, but it is pretty good – and you are insanely excited about it. You tell everyone about how you saved for it, how you researched a hundred models, and how you visited every store in town until you found the one perfect unit.
Then of course, you make a little more money – and that’s when the trouble starts !
You notice that your well-loved TV, while serviceable, is really getting rather old. There is this new model out which is bigger and undoubtedly better, so after much deliberation you go and buy the next one. You’re excited about this one too – but somehow it is not as satisfying as the first one. Still, it is a real upgrade and you enjoying using it.
Next year though, you are a little richer still, and there is this Super-Duper new model that catches your eye. It does not seem to offer anything exceptionally different to the one you already have – but it’s newer, and it is more expensive, and it is shinier – it must be better. So you go out and upgrade your television set again. This time it’s a lot less fun – even a chore. But you had to get it – it said Super-Duper right there on the box !!
Congratulations – you are now officially climbing the Hierarchy of Greed.
The next steps are easy to predict. Every year you go out and buy bigger and better and newer and shinier television sets (and other stuff you’ve added to your must-have list since then) and every year the adrenaline rush of the new purchase gets less and less satisfying – and your need to upgrade for the sake of the upgrade grows.
If you are lucky, you will climb off the hierarchy of greed at some point, get back on the path to self-actualization. If not….well there’s always that Super-Duper-Smashing-Astounding-TV set they’ve been talking about !!