Is it healthy to live according to your needs? Does reality fit the facts or our interpretation of the facts?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
In the example we are dealing with, necessity is defined as: a lack of things that are essential for the preservation of life. There are needs of various kinds, from breathing, eating, drinking and having a safe home, feeling content with yourself, appreciated by others, being motivated about your own life…
When I am thirsty, I drink water and that need, that lack, ceases immediately that it is satisfied. I do not think any more about it. Our needs are that simple. Living according to them is very healthy. Often we confuse need with desire.
A desire is something that refers to a specific object. Desires tend to have an aspect of utility that goes beyond need. I have a house, but I desire another because that would give me a certain status. I have water, but I desire a soft drink or a trendy beer. I have clothes. But I desire something more up to date because that suits the image I want to portray. I have a car that works but I desire one that is more attractive.
I have a sound system, but I want another one that my friends can admire. All of these are desires that urge us to acquire things that we do not need, that are not essential to preserve our lives. What does desire lead us to? To keep pursuing objects or personal status that do not bring us any simple, lasting satisfaction. This has a high price in terms of anxiety and burn out, by chasing chimeras of status, image and superficial self-esteem, etc.
Moreover, desire creates addiction. There is no way of stopping, since what drives it is the desire to compensate for something that I dislike or that I think I lack. Needs, by contrast, are simple. Needs exist in the present and they are satisfied in the present.
Desires are always projected towards the future, leaving, even when we achieve them, there is a trace of uneasiness, that there is something that we ought to pursue.
I invite you to observe what is driving your life – needs or desires?