Wants Versus Needs

I am a pawn on a chessboard.  The rules are simple, one or two steps forward at a time.  If I was the only piece in the game, I would always win.  But instead, I am at the mercy of the powerful chess pieces who try to manipulate and control me.  They lead me into vulnerable positions, where I am exploited, dominated, and destroyed.

The world is like a chessboard, it is full of temptations that pull at our minds.

Advertising uses psychological warfare to influence us to buy things that we don’t need.  Gaming companies use addictive constructs to trick us into investing large amounts of time into something with very little return.   Food companies genetically modify the taste of food to intensify our hunger, making us eat more.  The news media profits by using knowledge of human psychology to produce news that captivates our attention.

Like a chess master, we must choose our moves wisely.  Not everyone in the world is out to get us, but where there is good, there is evil lurking close by.

When dealing with temptations, we must determine the difference between a want and a need. 

Want: I would like to have this.

Need: I must have this.

Much of the time, this definition doesn’t distinguish the two enough, so we must ask ourselves, “What will happen if I don’t get what I desire?” 

Will I face immense pain and suffering?


Will I have to withstand boredom, hunger or fill in the blanks for the next hour?

In other words, if we don’t get a…

Want: It is an inconvenience.

Need: It is a crisis.

We can also flip the question around and ask ourselves “What will happen if I get what I desire?"

Will I be any happier?


Will I want something new tomorrow?

A good rule of thumb to remember is…

Want: Everything is actually a want.

Need: Very few things are actually needs.

The wisest philosophers and spiritual teachers, tell us that our happiness is linked with what we desire.  The more we want things that we cannot have, the unhappier we are.  To be happier, we must learn to suppress, eradicate, or at the least control our desires.

Want: It is a nice to have.

Need: It is essential to have.

Suppose you work up one morning and discovered that you are the last person left on Earth.  You walk around your city and see abandoned cars, empty mansions, and suitcases full of money lying on the streets.  Would you still want any of it?  What difference does it make what type of car you are driving or where you live, if you are the only person left on Earth?

Want: We can survive without it.

Need: We need it to survive.

From the time we wake up, to the time we go to sleep, messages bombard us.  These messages tell us that we will live unfulfilling lives if we don’t get what we want.  We live in a cyber world that encourages the “humble brag” - showcasing what we own and the cool places we have visited.  We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and seeing what we don’t have. 

Our desires churn for more. Our attitude gleans towards never having enough.

When will enough be enough? 

Only when you minimize your “wants” and feed your “needs.”

PS: You might have noticed I added an audio version at the beginning of this blog.  Should I continue to add an audio version in future blogs?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.