Want Vs. Need Mentality in a World of Materialism
“It’s so cute!”
“It’s a perfect fit!”
“I need to upgrade.”
“Oh, I’m sure this will be useful.”
Or, if you’re me, “I really need a new book.”
These are all things we say to provide some slight alleviation of guilt as we shell out money for something we don’t REALLY need. We are surrounded by more than we need in almost every aspect of our lives, and yet we still fight the desire for more.
What is it that fuels this desire? Why are we so lost on this crazy cycle of discontent?
Lessons from a Child
It’s a weird phenomenon, actually. Let’s use the example of a child with too many toys to help us understand what’s going on:
Picture a child of two or three years old, and place that child in a room that is packed with toys. This kid can’t focus. She wanders around, picks up one toy and plays with it for a few moments, then grabs at something else.
She becomes fussy, unable to choose something to play with because there are so many choices! Now, take that same child to the toy store. She wants All. The. Toys. And she probably throws a fit because she doesn’t get them all.
She takes one toy home and it joins the plethora of other toys and she rarely touches it. Her room is never tidy because there are too many toys and not enough space. Her attitude is often grouchy and she never focuses on one thing for more than a few minutes.
Now, let’s take that same child and put her in a room with only one toy (I promise you, she will survive). After some time of poking around and exploring, the child realizes that she only has one option, and so she picks up the single toy and spends an extended period of time exploring that toy and enjoying it.
Yes, there is a period of adjustment when she probably fussed and cried and wanted all her toys back. However, once this child realizes that she only has the one option, she makes the best of it.
We All Have Too Many Toys
Like the child in the above example, we have too many toys. The problem is that we are over stimulated to the point that we can’t narrow our focus down to appreciate what we already have. There’s always something new and shiny and awesome that will just make our lives better!!
The problem is, most of these new shinys don’t actually make our lives better. They weigh us down and create heavier burdens that we have to deal with.
The world tells us that we need more, bigger, and better all the time. Commercials fly at us, stores stock their shelves to entice us, and we haven’t learned how to say no.
Want Vs. Need
A “want” is something that you desire but that isn’t necessary for you to function. It’s something you can survive without. It could be a new pair of boots when the old ones are just fine, or an extra serving of ice cream after dinner. You definitely want it, but you don’t NEED it.
A “need” is something that you really can’t live without. Food. Sleep. Warmth. Not ice cream (sorry).
A “want mentality” is a mindset that sees the world through the filter that there is never enough. The wanters of the world always think they must have more! More clothes! More toys! More ice cream!
Wanters are never content. There is always something else that they MUST HAVE. A bigger house, a newer car. The latest gadget or the trendiest clothes. These people are lost in their world of wanting and they never truly enjoy life.
A “need mentality” is very different. Those who function based off of their needs are more successful and far happier because they only go after what is truly necessary. These people weigh decisions based on quality and long-term value, rather than on a fleeting desire.
The Freedom of Less
Over the next few months, we’ll be digging in deep to really start understanding the simple truth of living a life with less. I’m not going to tell you that you have to throw out all of your worldly possessions, but I do want to challenge you to evaluate those possessions and decide if they are really as important as you think they are!
I’m going to be spending some time writing up the curriculum for a three week long challenge that will start at the first of the year. In the mean time, I’ll be posting here weekly with some thoughts and insight into this topic.
I want to hear your thoughts as well and make sure that we are doing what will be most helpful for you, so please let me know what you’re struggling with.
Are you in? Sign up here to get on my mailing list and join the challenge when it rolls out!
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