Wants vs needs

So today’s Nablopomo prompt is around the one toy that a friend had that you wished you had.

For the life of me, I can’t think of anything.  Fortunate childhood I guess.  But seriously though, my family definitely were not wealthy but I didn’t lack for anything.  Whether this is grownup me rationalising my childhood or perhaps I haven’t dug deep enough to ask my inner child what it lacked.  But this brings me to that fundamental principle of understanding the difference between a want and a need.

I think the big portion of your early life up to middle adulthood – lets say 35 (yes gross generalisation) is spent in the realms of convincing yourself that the things you want are needs.  I need a (bigger) house.  I need to own the latest this or that.  I need to shop at that place because of the quality, perception or prestige associated with that place.  I need to eat at that restaurant because its important to have the appropriate reference point in conversation when schmoozing in particular circles.  I need to get THAT job because it will mean this to my career or I need to work at THAT company because it will look good on my CV.  And actually, you spend the majority of the time chasing confused wants dressed as needs.

I am not sure at what point this changes. Perhaps its age and wisdom and all that.  Or perhaps experiencing the death of a loved one.  But its the point you reach where the “stuff” you thought were needs (wants dressed up as needs), stopped being remotely important enough for there to be confusion. Now, spending time with the people who are important to me is a need, more than the restaurant or place we choose to spend that time. It could be sitting outdoors on a bench just enjoying the time you get to spend together.

Happiness is a need.   Not wanting the stuff I think might be the key to happiness, but actually, happiness itself.  Which does not require fulfillment through collecting “stuff” or accolades. I am always reminded of an anecdote attributed to John Lennon.  When asked, as a child, what he wanted to be when he grew up, he simply answered, “I want to be happy”.

Peace of mind is a need. Peace of mind, not as in some Zen like state achieved through meditation or yoga (I am not knocking these things as they are great conduits for tranquility, centredness and focus) but I am talking about the peace of mind where you can just sigh because there are moments in your life where you feel like the sun is shining through you.  Where the radio station playing in your head plays all your favourite tunes. Where you experience the buzz that comes from making a true human connection.  Even if just for a few seconds when you lock eyes with someone for a few seconds and in that moment, you silently and fully acknowledge each other. Or peace of mind waking up to a day whereby for a few moments you can feel free of the grief that’s been plaguing you for whatever reason you have felt grief.

Good health is a need.  I think we take good health for granted.  Sure enough there are people who are health conscious and workout and eat healthily all the time.  But I am talking about the need to appreciate our own good health and the good health of those we care about.  We take the simplest of things we need for granted.  Freedom of movement.  Walking.  Smiling.  Breathing.  It’s until we are no longer able to do these things, or appreciate the ability of those we care about to do these things, that we truly understand what a gift good health is.

What are your own needs?  Not the wants disguised as needs but the things you truly need in your life?


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