One of the things I know in my life I have been confused about is the difference between what is a want and a need. I have caught myself saying I “need” this or that when I did not. They were wants, not needs.
To be honest with all of you I started to write a cold report type piece on this topic but decided to change course.
I’ve been having a hard time this weekend because my seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is kicking up. However, I find writing on my blog to be very therapeutic. So, let’s jump in and examine the difference between what we want and what we need.
American Society and Gauging the Worth of Others
In the society I live in here in the United States people aren’t measured by their love for others, they are gauged by how hard they work. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they can live on what they earn if your fellow citizens see you working you are tops.
However, if you become old or god forbid too sick to work, you are labeled a user and someone who abuses all the rest of the country.
How sad. Society misses out on so much by stigmatizing we who have been too marginalized and harmed by the actions of others.
As one of these “takers”, I subsist on the bare minimum when it comes to money. I receive $985 a month to support three people with shelter and utilities. So, I am uniquely qualified when it comes to speaking about choosing between wants and needs.
What People Think They “Want”
There are many things that people in my country crave. Wealth, power, prestige, fame, houses and cars is only a partial list of the “wants” people express here in the states.
As if to reinforce these unnecessary cravings for things, there are sweepstakes and lottery games all around offering the empty promise of millions. Then there are the slot machines that have popped up all over the country. I sat one day and watched people put in dollar after dollar into these devices and even when they won, keep playing hoping against hope to win the jackpot.
Relationships are included in this problem too as millions turn to social media and online dating sites to find the kind of love sold to them from Hollywood. These poor folks spend untold millions of dollars trying to find a relationship that doesn’t exist anywhere.
What Do People “Need”?
After food and shelter, there are five fundamental things that all humans everywhere need. These needs include respect, dignity, safety, love, and acceptance.
We need these five things to help us grow and become well-rounded individuals filled with compassion for our fellow man. If any of these are stripped from us we languish and a part of our spirit dies.
That’s one of the many things I do not like about our prison system. We put people in prison to pay back society for the crime they have committed.
It was supposed to be that if you break the law, then you pay with your time in prison, and upon release, you return to society wiser never to repeat that mistake again.
Instead, we put people in prison, strip them of all their rights as citizens for life, teach them to hate and then after they are released continue to punish them forever.
What in the world does that accomplish?
They can’t get help going to college, live in public housing, or anything that could potentially help them to move away from the mistake that cost them their freedom in the first place.
I don’t understand.
Children too are victims of having their needs stripped from them. Even if they have food and shelter, do they get respect, dignity, love, acceptance and feel safe?
Children are subjected to the most heinous behaviors at home and then go to school where they are further traumatized not by action, but by inaction. Too often they become the invisible child who is slowly dying on the inside.
The Ultimate Prize, Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy. That’s a given fact. However, few are willing to do what it takes to find true happiness.
First, let me state where you CANNOT find happiness.
You cannot find happiness by depending on other people. If you don’t look inside for the answers to the fundamental questions that plague you, no one else will be able to do it either. Only you know what you need, and love and acceptance must start inside before you can successfully share life’s journey with another.
You cannot find happiness in your wants. Some of the most miserable people in society today are those who have unlimited riches. They drive fancy cars and live in huge homes, yet they cannot control their children or find anyone who will love them for themselves.
Where Can You Find Happiness?
Happiness isn’t found in a box or in a jet plane, it is something that grows from inside you. Having an internal locus of control means you look inside for answers and depend on yourself to find happiness.
What the Hell Does THAT Mean?
We have two choices on how we perceive the world that can be molded to fit our needs.
We can see the world with an external locus of control where we base how we see our success in life as being controlled by others. We look for our acceptance and love, sometimes going to extremes, from others and measure our self-worth by what they believe about us.
It’s not hard to see how we could get into trouble with an external locus of control.
We spend our time looking for that valiant knight on his white steed that is going to ride in and value us so that we can value ourselves.
However, what if we turn our locus of control inward?
An internal locus of control means that we attribute our success in life and our failures to ourselves. We own our mistakes and our successes, we believe we have influence over what happens to us and our choices. We feel empowered.
Can you see the difference?
Putting It All Together
Meeting our needs is important to our health and happiness. Only after we have our needs met can we move forward in power and strength. When we feel empowered we feel that we are in control of our lives.
This new position makes us great teachers to younger generations of what it means to be happy and what they truly need as opposed to what they think they want.
Passing the torch to a better-prepared group of young people who will one day take our places on the world scene.
We have the strength within us to become happy today and to shape our world for the future.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams