Want vs Need

do you
Drawing By Adrian Serghie

In a world full of stimuli, we want everything. And with everything, frustration and regret comes. You start to double-check every decision and you keep comparing it to the endless potential. And for what?

The biggest problem raises from the fact that we rarely analyze what we really need in life. We want this and that and what our neighbor has and what our friends have and so on. But we rarely wander if we really want those things. We just know that we want them. But why do we want them? And furthermore, do we really need them? If so, for what?

If we get really real with ourselves, we’ll realize that we don’t need much in life. More than 80% of the things we want is to prove something to someone (or to everyone) or to prove something to ourselves. We rarely go beyond the “having” point. The same comes when we think about people. Try remembering all the people you had a crush on or you had (or wanted to have) a relationship with. Before getting in touch with that person, you thought he/she was “the one” for you. However, after a while, you realized something is not as it should. And that’s because you got passed the “having” point one way or another (you either wanted something/someone else or you figured it out that you should let that person go).

My point is this: we want so many things (or people) because we think we need them, but actually, if we really think about it, we realize we need so little in life. Everything else is an extra.

Of course, just knowing this will barely change anything. The craving and the desire will still be there, but maybe a second-thought will appear before you act upon that desire.

What do you want in life, but you actually don’t really need them?


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59 thoughts on “Want vs Need

  1. My life so far has been a series of figuring out what I want and need. Sometimes I think I really want or need something to find that it was maybe just situational at one time and I no longer need it. Then there’s getting what you asked for and all that comes with that – results may vary. I have no helpful advice because it’s all been so messed up for me – but I think I’m getting closer. Anyway there’s something I’ve had in glimpses and that THING that is behind all the other things – the light, the freedom, the exhilaration, the rare and precious THING whatever that THING is – that’s what I want, that’s my focus. that’s my point on the horizon and my north star. That’s what I’m aiming for. The rest is just window dressing!

  2. I think some of the things we want and don’t really need are a reflection of a status competition. You don’t need a nice car, but if you had one, maybe you unconsciously think that other people would think more of you, your status would be higher, and life would be better. This isn’t generally true, but aspiration to improve social standing I think is driving a lot of this.

    There’s a lot of FOMO on social media too where it *appears* that everyone else has things better than you, which creates a “keeping up with the Joneses” effect that drives you wanting more stuff even if you have everything you need.

    1. Yes, exactly! And the worst part is that this FOMO never appears when it comes to seeing others bringing huge contributions to our society. It only appears when we see others having “more” than us.

  3. I find it really hard to figure out the difference between want and need. This is because I convince myself everything is simply a want and I have no need! I think that outlook is an extreme way of looking at things, I might not need a roof over my head to survive, many people don’t, but it makes life a lot easier and I therefore want it. I might feel I need a car because some days my legs don’t work, but I’m not going to die if I can’t get from A to B easily, it’s something I want to do. I might want to be loved the way I ‘need’ to be loved, but I’m not going to die if I cannot find anyone to treat me with the respect I look for, so it’s therefore something I want and not a need. I talk myself out of so many probable needs, telling myself they’re just wants!

    1. I agree with you, it’s pretty subjective isn’t it? The only real objective needs are the ones necessary for basic survival. But just surviving really isn’t fun! So how on earth do you argue for drawing the line anywhere else?

      I think the thing to distinguish with is the intention behind wanting something- do I want a guitar so I can make music, or a nicer car to show off? Utility and resourcefulness vs pure consumerism.

    2. It seems you have a great awareness over the fact that a want might be a need or not and vice-versa. I believe that if you are aware that sometimes there is a difference between the two, you can find a way to choose the one most suitable for you.

  4. Wow thanks Bogdan…. I read your post this morning and the reactions to it, and when I got to writing my own daily post, it turned into a giant reaction to your thoughts about want vs. need. Thinking about the nature of the addictive mind, I think that cutting throughthe bullshit of what we THINK we want can allow us to identify what we really need, and thereby shed all the unnecessary desires that cloud our vision and make us miserable most of the time. So yes, I totally agree with you: we actually need very little, but it is often our unmet underlying needs that create all the “unnecessary” desires that we confuse with our real needs. I’ve never done this before but here is a link to my post if you/anyone is interested in a LONG philosophical rambling about the distinction 🙂 IN any case thank you, your post helped me move forward on my journey of sobriety and letting go of what I don’t really need 🙂 (of course I credit and link you in the post too^^) xoxoxo Anne from Nomorebeer2019 https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/canireallybesober.home.blog/484

  5. This is always relevant! It can even apply to work related projects. Sometimes, we lose track of the actual problem we are trying to solve and that creates scope creep and tons of extra “needs.” In life this is a question I do ask myself frequently. It’s so easy to satisfy the wants in life when we have the means…except just because we have the means doesn’t always mean we need to act on it! Balance in everything is key. Splurge a few times, act frugally most of the time.

  6. Life is about learning what you really need, that helps sort out the wants to the lower level. Takes some experience to separate the two though. All I need is the love of family and friends, my health, some food and a roof over my head.

  7. I have a spending problem and I’m really trying to employ this thinking pattern in my own life. Before buying anything now, I try to ask myself ‘do I need it?’. I’m still not the best with money, but it helps a little.

    I’s like to be content with my lot, but I have addictive qualities, my attention and enthusiasm wains fast. I find myself skipping from one place to another, like a skimming stone on the ocean.

  8. Great questions! This post reminds me of a quote from Naval Ravikant: “Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
    Time to think about what I need versus what I want.

  9. I agree. It’s so hard as an American to look around and think “I need more” but I don’t. Tonight I had a fire with my husband and kids and thanked God for what I had, not what I didn’t, and I’m at peace. Great post as always.

  10. Very cool post, Bogdan. You very often remind us about things we’ve forgotten or need to reconsider. I think I have a slightly different problem. Because I grew up in a very unstable family–my parents separated and divorced and remarried and then divorced again, etc–I think I have this deep need to save money. The having of money makes me feel safe. (Actually, the having of money in the bank does give us a kind of buffer against some of the harsh realities of the world.) So I know I want to have money in the bank, but that need is likely due to the fact that I had a very scary childhood. Money feels like safety to me. I don’t have this same need to have “things.” It’s only with money and I understand that cash is a kind of security blanket.

    1. Thank you very much, Troy! I really understand that feeling regarding money because I also feel the need to have them as a security blanket, as you said. I know that I need some (to a certain extent), and the rest is just a want coming from the fear. This relationship with money is a tough one…

    2. I’m the same about money Troy, but so is my Dad, so I assumed it’s hereditary, but maybe not! The down side of course is I have all this money but don’t like to spend it much, even though I know I can’t take it with me when I go! 🙈

  11. Good day. It is an interesting predicament. Does a want make a need or a need a want? How bout a habit that has become a need and now you want it. That’s a tough one to break.

  12. Money and isolation are the greatest equalizers, They have taught me much, albeit the hard way, about the differences between want and need.

    I may want connection with people and yearn for material things basic necessities like food. Practically speaking, life has a way of teaching us what we need. Moreover what we can get by with.

    Great post.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words and for sharing some of your wisdom! Life has indeed a way of teaching us what we need and I’m glad it’s like that. The tough part is when other people teach us what we need…

  13. If one does not need it but still wants it, I’d rather call it “greed”. Imagine an obese person gobbling lots of potato fries so much beyond what is needed by his/her hunger.

    When I was little, I came across this wise saying – ” want no more than you need”. Frankly speaking, is it not illogical to want if we don’t need it, unless there is some other “absolute” reason behind it ?

    1. Wise words! It is somehow illogical to want if we don’t need it, but what is that need for? Where does that need come from? How come it wasn’t a need before and it is now? Have we convinced ourselves that we need it just because we want it?

      1. Good to see you back, Bogdan !

        A plant needs air, water, soil and sunlight to live. Thus, Need is for the Sustenance and comes from the very Existence. Notably, pouring water in flowerpot, too much more than what is needed now, can drown a sapling, eventually letting it rot and die. Therefore, the need that was not, but is now present, caters to various stages of Growth, as the need increases at par. Finally, it is always a question of personal clarity to tally one’s wants against one’s needs.

        A need is usually absolute while a want is often relative.

  14. I so agree with the thought of needing little in life. For me knowing that there was food on the table, and having a place to sleep is something to feel so grateful for. I have a very minimalistic home & I think I want to make my home look more homey but in reality I don’t really need those things, say more furniture or wall decor.

      1. I tend to buy things for my home after like the 3rd or 5th time I think about needing them. If they consistently become something I think I need to purchase. It usually takes months though before I’m convinced I really need said thing..

  15. …ahh, maybe. All integrated systems of information express into belonging (using words.) Living systems are plural, quite, so complexity or emergent complexity can only descriptively be arbitrarily delineated, and extend of course beyond any defined single part, ie ‘you’, (which, in the note, is implied to be the story or fabulation of ‘me’, whereas we, to, carry quite more.) Even the human genome is less than a third of what directly genetic, let alone epi, the constant dialogue, you carry, and even those influence in many strata before you create any ‘you’, what you want, what you need. Motivation.

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