- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
The Difference Between Need and Want
My Little Needs
I sit here contemplating two words that so many find interchangeable. A few years ago, I fell into the same trap of confusing these two words. Sometimes, I fall back in. Want and Need... They are both four letter words... that's easy to see..... they have similar definitions in the dictionary.... they have similar connotations.... but they have truly different meanings.
Here's where the differences kick in. A need is something you must have to survive. A want however is something you would like to have but it's not essential to the survival process. Many people fall into the snare of confusing the two words and it causes them a great deal of unhappiness. To illustrate the difference in the two words, if you were going to be left on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, would you want a fresh water supply or would you need it? The water would be a need because without it you could not survive. Now let's imagine you had to make a choice between having a reliable water supply and having a companion on the island. While you might want the fellowship of a fellow soul there to keep you company, you need the water to keep you alive. Without the water. both of you would perish quickly.
My point is this. Many of us confuse need and want. We go around saying I need a new car, I need a new job, I need a new whatever when we should be saying I want these things. If we really look at it, most of us are having our needs met pretty well... I know I'm a few inches to the fluffy side because I haven't missed too many meals in my lifetime.
In this holiday season, I encourage everyone to take a closer look at need and want. If you can help someone to meet their needs, isn't that the true meaning of the Christmas season? Distinguishing between need and want can make your life much easier as well. When you realize that the latest and greatest toys are nice if you get them but you won't die without them, you experience freedom. Like Baloo the Bear sang in the Jungle Book, look for the bare necessities and the bare necessities of life will come to you.
I'm not saying the difference is an easy thing to learn. I will share something with you now that may backfire on me. I learned the lesson between need and want from a bottle. I spent a good portion of my life drowning every emotion and care in a bottle. I've been to the razors edge of death and back a few times with Jack Daniel's as my driver.
Then I realized, I didn't like who I was. There were too many times when I needed a drink. I can tell you today, I was the guy who carried the bottle everywhere. I was drinking to get through church. Drinking to go out. Drinking to go to work. All because I couldn't deal with people.
When I realized that I was letting the bottle be the boss, I had to make a decision. That day, I decided that I needed to be a man more than I needed the drink. My family needed me. That morning I stopped drinking and I didn't touch a drop for the next five years. When I realized I didn't have to have it, I didn't even want it.
This last year, I had to test myself. Now I know all you AA folks out there will be screaming at me but I had to know. I come from a family of drunks and I had to find out which one of us was the boss. I'm proud to say I am the boss. I can have a drink now. But I do it for different reasons than I used to. When I have a drink now, it's because I want to, not because I need to. I can leave the bottle sitting in its place for months at a time and when I want a glass, I can pour one and stop. I can do this because I have learned a simple rule... If I hear myself say the phrase, "I need a drink.", I will not go near the bottle. I drink on my terms, when I want to drink.
I guess I'm rambling on. I just hope my words can encourage someone else. Help someone to see that they can be in control. They can have the power back. All by learning the difference between needing and wanting.
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