Need v/ Want

In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, his basic one is the physiological need:  food, clothing, water, shelter, air, sleep, companionship.  We need these for survival; some we take for granted.

When it comes to wants, we all have oodles, but do we really need some of the “things” that we have:  the collectibles, “toys,” gadgets, clothes, shoes, useless items, etc?  The obvious answer is, “no.”  But we have them anyway, and we purchase them with no thought of actual need.   “I want this or that and I’m going to buy it.”  How many garage sales do you pass with items that someone wanted and now is glad to be rid of?  Do you ever find yourself cleaning out and throwing away “things”?

I do need a new computer.  This trusty companion of seven years is aching for a proper burial, and a new, up-to-the-minute, all-the-bells-whistles-horns-sprinkles-on-top computer with the new Microsoft 7 software is eagerly awaiting my credit card and the drive home with me.  Right now though, old trusty’s going to stick around for another few months.  

I thought my five-year-old Advent TV – the size of a Mini Coop – had finally caught the deadly Swine Flu and was on its way to television heaven, so I bid it farewell and stacked it in the next room waiting for the trash to haul it away.   It’s fun to purchase something new.  I looked around for a “regular” tv:  26″ LCD television.  Wow; they’re really light, thin and sexy.  The first one I purchased was the runt of the litter and obviously needed to be discarded before being sold; I had to take it right back because it was broken.  Was the Universe telling me, “You don’t need a new tv Dee”? I guess so, but….

The next trip was to another store because the first store was out of the 26″ and my price range.  So I purchased the “store brand” model at Best Buy and came home, happy.  Well, the same problem exists on my new television screen as the old Advent.  Ah, ha. The Universe was right, I didn’t actually need a new television!  The situation on the screen was from the cable company, not the television.  So:  Do I keep the new tv that I don’t need?  Do I return it – I have 30 days – and get a full refund?  It’s now want v need.

I like the look of the new thin screen LCD television.  It looks good in my living room, but I don’t need it.  I feel a tug-of-emotion about taking it back.  The old Advent still has to prove herself to me and the cable situation, but if all is well, then I guess the new kid on the block will be boxed up again and taken back. 

My dear friend Joachim DePosada has written a few books, one:  Don’t Eat The marshmallow…Yet!.  His premise is delayed gratification.  If we eat all the marshmallows now, we won’t have any for later.  Save, save, save.  We don’t need to eat everything right now, we can wait, save and savor for tomorrow.  Part of my situation is just that: eating everything right now and not having anything for tomorrow.  And you?

Do you find yourself “scared” because you haven’t saved enough for retirement?  For when you might be laid off?  For when your spouse loses his/her job? For economic times like today?  I do.  That television, as much as it may be “pretty” and state-of-the-art for today, is going to have another owner by Friday…Saturday at the latest.  My old trusty Advent gives me my 60-90 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday nights and during the professional tennis tournaments, or two hours on TCM when I want a good old movie; I don’t need the new tv, but oh, I really want to keep it!  Funny emotional tie to a television?  YIKES.

Possessions may make a positive impression on your neighbors and friends, but they are only possessions.  Have you ever broken anything?  Of course.  You had to throw it away.  If you threw away half of your possession – or gave them to charity – your life wouldn’t be any less abundant.  It’s a mind set.  What do you actually need to keep your physiological and emotional environments safe?  Then ask yourself if you really need that new outfit, television, bike, drill, or could you put that money away for when you need it, or for a special occasion or a life-long-dream-come-true trip?

Need versus want; interesting psychological tug.


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