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Most people I know don't covet anything.  Being covetous is an aberration, I've found, but one that's extremely strong when one has the quality.  Being covetous seems to be the embodiment of dissatisfaction, with oneself and with one's situation and/or material possessions.  The people I've met who have been covetous have been dissatisfied with almost everything about themselves, and they've been miserable because of it.

When somebody else has something that we want, the "mature" person realizes that he or she would like to have that thing, but--oh, well--he doesn't, or she doesn't, and that's that.  Maybe someday I'll go and buy it or work hard to earn money to be able to buy it, but for now, that person has it and I don't, and life goes on.  The covetous person, on the other hand, becomes obsessed with the idea of having that something that someone else has, whether it be a new car, a new wife or boyfriend, a new dress or jacket--whatever.  That obsession leads to dissatisfaction, as most people see it.

But that obsession is also born of dissatisfaction.  A person who's satisfied with whatever he or she has won't become obsessive about something that someone else has.  We might admire it or wish we had it, but our happiness isn't at risk when we see something we want but can't have.

Dissatisfaction comes from many sources--low self-esteem or poor self-image, feelings of inferiority, feelings of isolation or loneliness, pain suffered at the hands of someone else or ourselves--the list could go on almost forever.  But somehow or another, the person lets his or her self-image and idea of self-worth get wrapped up in this thing or person or object, in the idea of possessing it.

I believe that if we're going to deal with covetousness, we must look at it as a symptom, not as a trait itself.  It's great to say "Thou shalt not covet," but we need to ask why we're coveting.  We need to examine the ideas and ideals that the person who covets holds dear.  We need to look at the whole package, not just the covetous behavior itself.  The best thing we can do for a person who covets is not just point out the fact that he or she is doing something he or she shouldn't do, but to help them find out why they're doing so.  If they believe that people will admire them more if they were married to a certain person or driving a certain car, we need to let them know that we admire them already for exactly who they are.  They don't need to be anything else.

If you covet, ask yourself why, for the behavior is holding you back from getting the most out of what you already have, and this life we live.  If you believe that having a certain thing or person will affect how others view you, know that acceptance or admiration based on material possessions is superficial and fleeting.  You may get a few comments at first, but true admiration is based on character, and character is never reflected in the material or superficial.  Character is who you are, how you treat other people, and whom and how you love.  Be you, and be satisfied with that. Always work to improve what and who you are, but never feel that you'll be better for having some thing.  You are who you are for a reason, and the world needs you to be just who you are, and to be that person to the best of your ability.


Covetousness bursts the sack and spills the grain.

Sir Walter Scott

The covetous person is full of fear; and he or she who lives in fear will ever be a slave.



When I realize that God makes his gifts fit each person, there's no way
I can covet what you got because it just wouldn't fit me.

William P. Smith
Loving Well


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Every ambitious person is a captive and every covetous one a pauper.

Arab proverb

Covetous people are fools, miserable wretches, buzzards, madmen
who live by themselves, in perpetual slavery, fear, suspicion, sorrow,
discontent, with more of gall than honey in their enjoyments; who
are rather possessed by their money than possessors of it.

Robert Burton

If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master.  The covetous
person cannot so properly be said to possess wealth,
as that may be said to possess him or her.

Francis Bacon


The covetous person is like a camel with a great hunch on its back;
heaven's gate must be made higher and broader, or he or she will hardly get in.

Thomas Adams

It was with good reason that God commanded through Moses that the
vineyard and harvest were not to be gleaned to the last grape or grain;
but something to be left for the poor.  For covetousness is never to be
satisfied; the more it has, the more it wants.  Such insatiable ones
injure themselves, and transform God's blessings into evil.

Martin Luther


There is not a vice which more effectually contracts and deadens
the feelings, which more completely makes a person's affections
center in him- or herself, and excludes all others from partaking in
them, than the desire of accumulating possessions.  When the
desire has once gotten hold on the heart, it shuts out all other
considerations, but such as may promote its view.  In its zeal for
the attainment of its end, it is not delicate in the choice of means.
As it closes the heart, so also it clouds the understanding.  It cannot
discern, between right and wrong; it takes evil for good, and good
for evil; it calls darkness light, and light darkness.  Beware, then,
of the beginning of covetousness, for you know not where it will end.

Richard Mant


Covetousness, by a greediness of getting more, deprives itself of the
true end of getting; it loses the enjoyment of what it has got.

Thomas Sprat

Covetousness teaches people to be cruel and crafty, industrious and evil, full of
care and malice; and after all this, it is for no good to itself, for it dares
not spend those heaps of treasure which it has snatched.

Jeremy Taylor


There is no such thing as material covetousness.  All covetousness is spiritual.
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


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Whatever worldly thing we may covet--zealously striving to obtain and
then retain--never seems to bring an end to our desires.  Covetousness,
envy, jealousy, and greed always escalate into a vicious spiral, as we seek
greater and greater gratification but find less and less contentment. . . .
Striving to acquire the things of the world not only does not bring lasting
happiness and peace, but it drives us to seek more.  When "all we've ever
wanted" is grounded in the temporal trappings of this world, it is never enough!

Brent Top

Who covets more is evermore a slave.

Robert Herrick


The person who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money
is poorer.  They only are rich who can enjoy without owning;
they are poor who though they have millions are covetous.

Orison Swett Marden



Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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