Desire: Differentiating between Needs vs. Wants
Contemplating on Desire: Today, I was thinking about why we often feel that we need certain things when really it is more of a want. I know we use these words synonymously, but really, there is a clear difference between the two. For example, when you have a craving for something like let’s just say something like chocolate for the sake of argument, is it because we need it or because we want it? I am of the opinion that needing stems from lacking what is required; something that is necessary; an obligation and a requisite to a particular end – this is my definition by the way. A want is defined as something more along the lines of a wish; a percieved need or inclination or desire for something or someone – my definition.
There are times when I sit back and reflect on things going on in my life as I consider what I want versus what I need. It’s difficult for me to get to that place of realization regarding the areas that aren’t necessary in my life right now because I know I have wants, but some if not most of these wants (whether they are legitimate desires or not) are not really things I need. Does that mean I throw away or discard my desires? Hell No! However, I must assess what I truly need right now so that I pursue with balance and don’t trap my thought patterns into a dark area that rides along the lines of obsession.
I’ve come to a place where I believe that “What we need is more important than what we desire”. *Gasp* you look at me with shock! How can you say that SHERLINE???!!!
Why do I say this? Well, think about it and consider that we are selfish beings *hands down*. When we desire things, are we desiring things for other peoples benefit or our own? That’s the first question you must answer to yourself. There is nothing wrong with having a personal desire but to what end will it sustain you on an individual level? Do you consider the desires of others outside your own? Do you even see the needs of others apart from your own? Please do not get me wrong here in that I’m not implying that you should only focus on the needs of others but neither do I advocate to pursue only things that satisfy yourself alone either. Desires must have a balance that benefit yourself as well as others around you. Harmony and peace in this world can be obtained when we look beyond ourselves and see the needs of others as paramount as our own. Then again, this is just my perspective of the subject. You may see differently and I respect that.
You must be thinking right now, “What’s wrong with having a desire?” and I will say in response to that question that essentially, there is nothing wrong with having a desire because we all have them but I think that right now we must assess our motivations towards our desires. What drives us to desire in the first place the things that we want? When we desire something, how do we go about getting it? Do we pursue things in honest ways or dishonest ways? Remember that there are honest ways of obtaining something we desire and then there are evil ways of gaining the same thing. Desires don’t reflect what we need, they reflect what we want.
If you look at the current state of our world, you will understand how corruption is fueled by the uncontrollable desires of man. We must not underestimate the power of desire. Desire in and of itself is not a bad thing but it’s how we translate our desires that count. We must not be moved by vain and fleshy motivations that satisfy our selfishness. The old Machiavellian qoute that comes to mind as a reflection of this idea is that some people operate with a “The ends justify the means” mentality. I don’t believe that you should use unjust (evil; corrupt) methods to obtain the things we desire. To me, such motivations stem from a mind that has cultivated a frame of thinking that allows for a person to operate with a lack of self-control. Think of the quote below.
This quote rings true for many reasons. Sometimes the people that lack self-control regret the outcome of their actions after obtaining the very thing they desired by unjust (dishonest) means. There are consequences to every action that is motivated by selfish ambition. We corrupt the idea of desire by not destinguishing between our needs from our wants. As I mentioned earlier, Desire is a neutral concept, but how we translate it into action determines whether it is a good desire or a bad one.
I know that I’ve contemplated on the negative side of desire but there is also a flip-side which is honest and healthy. For example, desiring knowledge is a wonderful thing until we become too inquisitive for our own good that it can also land us into a whole lot of trouble if we lack self-restraints and do not concern ourselves about maintaining a balance. As cliche as this may sound it needs to be said:“Too much of a good thing is not always good for you”.
Knowledge is neutral in that it is neither good nor bad but it’s what we do with it that counts. You musn’t seek it for selfish reasons because there are consequences to that action and like that old saying goes ”curiosity killed the cat”. We must know the limits of our desires so that we don’t end up obsessing over it. Obsession perverts our desires by dominating our thoughts in such ways that we cannot think of anything else apart from it.
When we obsess over something or someone, we lose sight of ourselves and we lose sight of purpose because we become driven only by what we want and can no longer reason rationally in such a state that lacks self-control.
An obsessed person doesn’t see errors in judgement either in their actions or their thought patterns because they are fueled with an overwhelming and over-powering desire to possess that thing that they want and negelect the important things around them. Obsession is self-destructive and to me its a form of desire gone out of control. We must stay clear from that life-style choice by practicing self-control. Self control helps us to differentiate our needs from our wants. Therefore, it is imparative that we change our desires according to our needs.
When we satisfy what we need, we can obtain what we want in a healthy honest way (which means hard work). This is not to say that we will always get what we desire but we can achieve getting what we want by focusing on what we need. Sometimes I find that when I work on things I need, my desires start to change in that what I desired initially ceases to be what I seek anymore because my perspective has transformed from focusing on what I wanted to what I needed at the time. When you recieve what you need your desires can change. The idea here is to have healthy motivations for doing the things that you do and obtaining the things that you want. By all means, do a healthy mental check and ask yourself questions regarding your motivations.
What MOVES you?
My Last Note: To assess between our needs and wants you must focus on PURPOSE. Purpose helps us to guide our focus to pursue the things that get us what we need in life. We must understand that to achieve our desires we have to assess our motivations and ask ourselves why we want something and do we really need it? What is the purpose of pursuing the thing we desire? Also, do we really need it? Will it enhance you in anyway? What do you gain from obtaining what you want? What is important to you? Is what you regard as important there to build or destroy you? Do you have self-control? Do you know what you need? Also consider what it is that you lose by not obtaining what you want? In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).