NEED versus WANT
Ding Ding: " Round ONE"
Are you thinking it's the same thing? Nope. The confusion over need versus want can lead us down a dark path and stop us from making the right decisions for our health and mental well being.
Lets start with need. What do we need?
Biologically speaking, our needs are pretty basic: air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep .
These are the very basic elements to sustain human life. No fripperies, no frills. These are what a baby cries out for, these are the elements that our bodies are designed to seek out and procure in order to live. Millions of years of evolution have programmed every living thing to require some if not all of these essentials in order to survive.
Nowadays many of these we consider to be our basic rights as humans. Laws are passed to guarantee these things for the citizens of a country, campaigns are waged to fight for these rights to be granted to refugees, underprivileged people, the dispossessed of the world. Without these essential elements in combination, we die.
But these basic essentials are not what we want, evolution is a continuous process, and once our basic biological needs are satisfied, we begin to want.
What do we want?
The answer to that can be anything and everything. The more pertinent question is why do we want?
Once our basic needs are met, we start to look around for things that we want, but why? Want is generated by external factors that we cannot control, the desire to have what somebody else has, a 3rd party telling us that we should have these things, that we deserve them, advertising, marketing and media all around us shows us all of these products that go beyond our basic needs and feeds the insatiable urge to have the things we think we want.
Our body is thirsty, it NEEDS water, but we WANT a branded soda. Our body is hungry, it NEEDS food, but we WANT a bag of fast food, or a pizza, or a fancy dinner with cloth napkins, silver cutlery and waiters.
We make our WANT decisions based on what a 3rd party waves in front of us to tempt us with, we override our basic biology and tell ourselves that what we want is actually what we need.
But think about what this actually means, the reality of what we are allowing to happen. We are making our happiness, our satisfaction, dependent on somebody else. We are allowing our needs to be sated by somebody else's idea of what we should want. Our happiness is becoming conditional on a 3rd party.
We are gradually giving up control of our own happiness.
Now far be it from me to suggest that a multi national profit making business doesn't have our best interests at heart, but I would suggest that the person best placed to make those decisions that lead to happiness and self satisfaction come from within the person that knows you best, you.
Think about the last thing you bought. The last gadget, widget, fluffy, puffy, trinket, shiny, sparkly branded item that you bought brand new from a shop with a hefty price tag. Does it meet any of your basic needs? Really? No? Then you bought it because you wanted it. How did you know you wanted it? Because somebody told you that you did.
Why do we buy a fancy watch that has a hundred different functions when a basic model would do what we generally need our watches to do, does it tell the time any better because it can do it in 10 different languages from any location on the planet? What about that kettle that boils water for that much needed cup of tea, are we more refreshed because it has that particular brand stuck on the front of it, or because it is red instead of silver? We are making decisions based on want not need.
To be fair, the majority of the time, these are not harmful decisions. Maybe we spent a bit more money than we should have done, maybe we cannot work out all the additional fancy functions on that bit of tech and a more basic model would have been just as good if not better.
[And let us be honest, we have moved too far along the evolutionary scale to be content with just a cave and an animal skin.]
But what if you stop making choices for yourself altogether and allow somebody else to influence you. What if you stop recognising the influence as influence? This insidious creeping in of control makes decision making more difficult in every area of our lives, and that's because we are gradually becoming more and more detached emotionally from the decision making.
It's a vicious cycle that those multi national profit making businesses rely on.
We buy something because we don't feel happy and we have been told that buying things will make us happy, so we buy that product because they tell us it is the biggest, latest, best model, but it doesn't actually make us happy because we didn't consult ourselves about it, we allowed ourselves to be led into buying that product by a 3rd party, so now we find that we are still not happy, so we buy something because we don't feel happy and we have been told that buying things will make us happy.........................etc, etc, etc - ad infinitum
How do we distinguish between need and want?
That's the 7.674 billion question - because we are each and everyone an individual.
If you are able to identify the differences between the things you need and the things you want and make rational, emotionally engaged, qualitative choices, then no, you probably don't need to change anything.
But, if you are feeling that things are getting away from you, maybe you are in debt, or not able to let go of things, you never feel satisfied, perhaps you feel empty or bereft. If you have that feeling that there is something missing in your life, that you are perpetually seeking something that you cannot find, it may be that it is not a thing that you are missing, not something that you can buy, but that you need to find a better balance between the material and the emotional and re-connect to yourself and your personal needs and wants.
But this is just round one in the Need versus Want fight. There are other drives at play.
.....to be continued.