Wants, needs, and that ever-important gap in between

If there was ever a city in the world that makes you focus on consumerism at its finest, it’s New York. A place that claims to be in the grips of a recession, but looks like it’s booming in every way. Lines at the checkouts, waits for the change rooms, and money, money, money being splashed about town with more zest than a citrus cocktail at Hotel Gansevoort (which will set you back a good $20 by the way).

So, it’s really no surprise that as a female who enjoys shopping, and appreciates the value of ‘investing’ in your appearance (does that make me a chic hippy, or chippy?), the concept of wanting versus needing was becoming slightly challenging for me.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was waxing lyrical about parking my possessions in a box and embracing the feeling of freedom that accompanied not having ‘stuff’. For the past three months or so I have been living out of a suitcase, happily wearing my daggy ‘travelling’ clothes day in, day out, and loving every second of not focusing on the material and embracing the experience instead.

Until I arrived in New York – where shorts and t-shirts and brown leather sandals suddenly didn’t seem as appropriate as they did in Turkey. Or Italy. Or Asheville. Suddenly, I found myself being drawn into this cycle of wanting, wanting, wanting, trying to feed my wardrobe, rather than my soul, and wondering why this compulsion to accumulate more ‘stuff’ was creeping up on me, and getting worse, rather than better. Surely if I just got this one pair of shoes I wouldn’t want anything else for a while, right? WRONG!

Here’s the problem, Happies, when you start getting sucked into the world of feeding your wants, rather than your needs, you’re never going to be fulfilled. Your wants are never ending, we as humans are the greediest creatures on the planet. Nothing is ever enough. Be it food, clothes, shoes, sex, alcohol…people have addictions to these things for a reason. They can’t control their WANTS!

But when you stop focusing on your wants, and start looking at your NEEDS, suddenly life becomes a lot less cluttered. Your time, energy, money and soul all start feeding and nourishing your life, your body, your self.

So, I decided it was time to go deep inside and really look at what it is that I needed. You should do the same. What do you feed off in order to be the best you possibly can? On a basic human level we all need food, water, shelter and love, so look at these aspects in your life and see what you need to do in order to satisfy.

If that truly means surrounding yourself with beautiful shoes, then by all means, purchase what you think is necessary to balance your needs, but I believe once you look inside those shoes will suddenly be pushed to the back of the pile. For me, personally, I need good food in my life. Healthy, nourishing, balanced food packed with nutrients is what my brain needs to work at its optimum level. This isn’t a want, it’s a need. I also need physical activity as well as yoga and meditation to keep me calm and counteract my over active sympathetic nervous system – which causes me to be in flight-or-fight mode the majority of my life. I am one anxious little bear, or at least, I was in the past. Again, a need, not a want.

Once you start going through the different aspects of your life and seeing what it is you need to satisfy them, suddenly all the focus shifts from the wants and they really don’t seem all that appealing anymore. Sure, treat yourself to a dress, or enjoy a burger, I’m not saying never have these things, it’s just about not being sucked into that mind-set of greed and instant gratification.

So with that, I proudly strut down the street in my brown leather sandals and shorts, knowing that I have everything I need already – it’s just inside me, rather than out. And at the end of the day, I may want people to like me, or think I look good – but I don’t need it. And that, Happies, is what it’s all about.

Tell me…

Do you find yourself being sucked into the ‘want’ game?

Do you know what it is you truly ‘need’ in order to be satisfied?

Are you eager to find out?

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6 comments

  1. memybestandi · September 5, 2011

    I definitely get sucked in to the “want” side of things. It’s really hard not too. I had a few reality checks though, both based around moving and packing up a house to go overseas. I couldn’t get over the amount of cosmetics I had everywhere, 1/2 used, forgotten about , 4 kinds of one, 6 of another. I realised then I spent way too much on products and needed to pull it back. Now I play by the rule of only buying a replacement of 1 type of product when I have finished one up which helps to keep me in check.

    Reading this is a really good reminder I need to query myself more, I’m just starting out with my hubby saving for a house, and we are starting our new “budget” next pay cheque so I have to keep asking myself the “want v need” question a hell of a lot more, (starting next month!!) I need to psych myself up!!

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  3. Stephanie Johnston · September 11, 2011

    I hear ya! I’m exactly the same. A big bag of organic fruit and veg appeals to me so much more than a new pair of shoes! Speaking of shoes, I’m so amazed that you managed to fit all your possessions into 1 suitcase…how?! Would love to know what clothes made the cut? Did you just take favourites or a capsule wardrobe or have you been buying? I’m heading back o/s next year and don’t want to take my life with me but have no idea how to start the cull! Cheers, Steph x

  4. Amy · October 6, 2011

    Yaz, this post really struck a choard with me, I’ve been in a spending frenzy and end up feeling guilty after every purchase, I’ve tried to cut back and go cold turkey but it’s always hard to resist ‘just looking’ but still feel guilty even when doing so. Your post made me take a step and back really notice how materialistic and obsessive you can become once your become a spending monster. Makes me think now, do I really want these shoes or will I feel better about saving it and going on European vacay in a couple of years. So a big thankyou for making me realise this and realise how much more enjoyable saving is rather then spending!

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