Why We Need To Define Wants vs. Needs
It's beneficial to be able to separate wants from needs or many reasons. One reason is that, from a consumer perspective, it can help you save a lot of money. If we get into the habit of only buying things we need, rather than the things that we want, it can save thousands of dollars every year, depending on your current spending habits. It's also beneficial from an internal perspective. Buying everything that we want can make us feel entitled to having those things. It can make us feel that we need them when we really don't. This can lead to a reliance on material things. Simply put, people who buy everything that their heart desires will eventually gain happiness from acquiring things, rather than things that truly matter in life. like spending time with family and friends.
What is a "Need"?
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss needs within the realm of "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs". This is a psychological theory concerning what humans truly need. The five categories of needs in this theory are, in order from most basic to least basic, physiological needs, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Physiological needs are things like food, water, sleep, and other items that the body physically needs to function. Safety refers to security. Security can mean anything from a secure home that is free of intruders to job security. Love needs are needs that are met with good relationships, whether they be romantic or platonic. Esteem refers to the need to be respected and feel confident. The last type of need, self-actualization, is different for every person and defines who we are. It concerns the need to satisfy one's full potential, whether that be in school, work, home life, or hobbies. Your personality defines which of these areas you feel you need to succeed in to be happy.
How to Fulfill These Needs
Physiological needs can be met by maintaining healthy eating and sleeping habits. These are needs that you should never ignore. Safety needs can be met by making sure you are financially stable, as well as physically protected with a good home and support system. Love needs will be met if you maintain healthy relationships. This means choosing the people whom you want to be in your life carefully. Esteem needs help us to feel confident and respected, and are different for every person, as are self-actualization needs. So, fulfilling them will require some introspection.
The thing to remember about differentiation in this aspect is that most people never even realize the importance of the issue. Simply put, most people are so wrapped up in materialism that it never occurs to them that there's a difference between needs and wants. If you're already of the mind that there's reason to rise above the superficial whims of society, you've taken the first step to attaining not only a more frugal life, but a more rewarding and fulfilling one.
Jaime Torres writes about self-help and self-realization. Her recent work is on the best counseling degrees online.