“You’re everything I need, want and desire.”
What a romantic phrase. Perhaps it’s been uttered beyond romance novels as pillow talk, but I’m betting it’s not commonly deconstructed to find a path to simple living. Be prepared, because knowing what you need, want and desire can actually lead to a better life.
Needs are actually pretty basic. We need food and water. We need clothing and shelter. And, we need the means to acquire these things. There are also emotional and intellectual needs, but we are going to silo those for the moment. The needs I speak of are the bare bone basics.
Kind of jarring isn’t it? It’s meant to be. I like to think of basic needs as a foundation. Notice they don’t include a lot of what might be considered comfort items, like soap for instance. This leads us to the Wants category.
When thinking of the things we Want, our first thought might be comfort. We don’t necessarily need to be clean for example, but it is definitely more comfortable to be. We don’t need entertainment but extra stimulation can provide diversions that bring us mental comfort.
Things we want for the sake of comfort are worth the extra effort it takes to have them. But identifying comfort also requires a large amount of personal honesty. Some would swear that comfort comes with extravagance. It doesn’t. It is true that adequate shoes may keep our feet comfortable for example, but they needn’t cost thousands of dollars.
Comfort should be judged by the absence of discomfort, and discomfort is identified by our own tolerance and personal fortitude. Seeking comfort is normal. Seeking comfort with absolute honesty takes some practice. I tend to ask myself, “Can I make do with what I have?” More often than not, the answer is yes, and that affirmation can go a long way. It feels good to be satisfied with what I have.
Once needs and wants are identified, we can start to consider Desires. After all it’s nice to have nice things.
Desires can meet needs and wants, but they go beyond that. Desires provide emotional satisfaction, often on a temporary basis. Desires that go beyond needs, beyond the comfort of wants, tend to gain a life of their own. Sure you may want a toaster, and desire a Hello Kitty toaster, but if that desire gets away from you, you might find your entire kitchen profits Sanrio. When considering things you desire consider how long that emotional satisfaction will last.
This means when you acquire things that go beyond needs and wants, be sure you know why you really desire them. It’s okay to meet an emotional need with a desire. What’s not ok, is to use desires as a primary source for personal satisfaction.
Excess in any form may not necessarily fill Wants and Desires. Wanting more than you need, and desiring more than you actually want creates more Want and Desire. But, knowing what will bring you genuine comfort and what will meet your needs can help to curate life that is truly satisfactory. Who doesn’t want that?