For just one minute take a step back into your imagination and pretend that today is the day you have worried about your whole life. You are given one month to live and can only take 3 things from your present life into this last month of your life? What would you take? How would you decide? When it comes to something as abrupt as this most people can easily separate their needs from their wants. If a fire destroyed your home and everything in it you would be clear on what your needs were and remorseful about your wants at the time. In life today, few people in western civilizations actually know or feel the difference between needs versus wants. It can’t go without wondering if this is part of the problem with our world.
There isn’t a day that passes that you don’t say your self or hear others say “I need” such and such. I need a new computer, I need a new car, and I need to get milk from the grocery store. I need a nap, I need a break, and I need a new outfit to wear to the party. The word need has pretty much replaced the word want in our daily lingo. The problem with that is that a need is something far different than a want. As humans, we need food, water, shelter and each other to survive. We could in fact survive without fancy cars, 4 bedroom homes, education, steak dinners, wine, a $300 pair of jeans and television. Perhaps our survival would not be as abundant in terms of being comfortable and living the kind of life we fancy for ourselves – but we don’t in reality need these things.
At the same time what sets humans apart is that we have desires and cravings for more in our lives. These are the inklings born of thought that perpetuate us forward and help us to add to our bounties. In the archaic manuscript “The Science of Getting Rich”, Wattles deliberately reminds us that not wanting or desiring more is a fault all in itself. Having lots of wants in life can be a good thing; but describing them as needs clearly clouds the reality of our situations. The reason – because when we begin talking in terms of needs by pure definition we are speaking of our lives in terms of what we don’t have or what we lack. Eventually we begin to feel that our needs are not being met when we don’t receive or get the new house or car that we talk about. Yet clearly – if you are reading this on a computer there is a good chance that all your true needs in life are in fact being met and then some.
At some point all of us have to realize the difference between needs versus wants. Similarly, it is imperative to realize that there is no gift in being satisfied with little. This doesn’t make one righteous or selfless and no matter which religion you follow; this doesn’t make you closer to God. In fact most Gods promise abundance and beauty in our lives. Settling for little, being satisfied with less than what you can accomplish actually makes people lazy and reluctant to offer any more to their life or another’s. No one should have to settle for less than what they are capable of! Obviously everyone’s capabilities are different, their desires are different and their lives turn out differently because of this.
Needs versus wants is really about gratitude. Gratitude is another one of those terms in which the meaning has been lost. Gratitude isn’t just saying “thank you” in order to mannerly or seem appreciative; it is something felt in the still of all of us. Gratitude is what we would feel if any of us were forced to deal with any of the situations presented in the first paragraph of this article. All ancient and new age schools of thought agree on the fact that we need to be impeccable with our words, thoughts and speech and ALWAYS be able to feel gratitude for the whole of our lives. This translates to changing the way we talk which we will eventually change the way we feel and think and will enable us to put one step in front of the other being grateful for the Earth below he shoes we are happy to have. If we can begin to say I want a new outfit, I want a new car, I want a new pair of shoes and I want to buy a larger home - we begin to differentiate between the needs versus wants in our lives. Doing this and being truly grateful for the needs we have in our lives that are already met opens the door to more.
Another factor in figuring out needs versus wants is the understanding that all of these things we want which we say we need are not going to fill up any holes we feel emotionally. Passing the schools of thought down to children that life is about living in a nice neighborhood, driving a new car, having new and good clothes -only passes on the tradition of not being grateful for things in our lives. On any given Christmas holiday there are children around the world who are being overindulged with no real appreciation for what it is they already have. Why? Because they watch and listen to the adults in their life falsely ruminating about all the things they need in their life which only convinces them and their children that they are living in some sort of lack. When a child comes home saying “they need the newest Nintendo Wii game” they honestly feel that if they don’t get it or have it; they are living a less than.
Perhaps and the most frightening problem with speaking in needs versus wants is that more and more people are becoming less motivated to work for either of them. It is nothing for new couples to feel that they must buy a brand new home in the best neighborhood that they really can’t afford. It is nothing for someone to get out of college and feel that they must get the job of their dreams bypassing the many tiers to success. As a society we just feel that these things should come to us; without much toiling of our own. When they don’t, there is blame and shame for all the things we think we are supposed to have but don’t have any idea how to go about getting properly. The fact that more 50 year mortgages are being written now than ever before in the history of real estate - says a lot about what we really need in life versus what we want. The first step in life is to meet our needs so we can begin cultivating the real desire of wanting more. As we begin to want more, we are forced to work harder and more efficiently to get these things; and then when we do; gratitude comes naturally! Needs versus wants in life is something that every person needs to clearly think about at one point or another; making changes to their speech, thoughts and feelings so they will be able to recognize the differences.