Needs and Wants

Swapna Mirashi

Amidst the chaos of stuff that caters to our wants or stuff that makes us want, it is quite natural to lose sight of what one needs.

Research shows that being able to meet all that we need and a few wants gives a feeling of abundance and leads to satisfaction and happiness in life. Getting all that we want is practically impossible as one want leads to another and more and more.

Tantrums, pester power, distraction, instant gratification, are a norm in parenting young children. The root cause of this, as revealed in Beach Bungle, is an unmet need, overlooked due to distraction. If observed intently there appears a pattern in such behaviour.

Need – something that one cannot do without, that is essential for contented survival.

Want – something that one desires but doesn’t really need.

 People who have no or limited resources, are forced to use them judiciously – as little as they need.

In a desert, where water is a scarce resource, people have designed systems and their lifestyles to collect as much water as they can from rains and other natural sources, use only what is needed and save for future. They are forced to think of what and how much they need now and in future, and use the scarce resource to best meet their needs.

In cities, where water supply is plenty, systems and lifestyles are not always designed keeping all the needs in view. It is assumed that since there is plenty of water even for the ‘wants’ like fountains or artificial pond, there will be enough for the needs.

Plenty does not guarantee providing for needs. In fact having plenty makes us want for more.

In the current consumerist world full of desire igniting stuff, it is easy to get blinded by wants. Those with limited money, may be compelled to use it focussed on their needs.

Those with plenty, since they don’t need to, often take their needs and their money providing for them for granted and use their resources as much as they want.

This is evident in behavior of young children. One only needs to observe them in  supermarket, toy or candystore or gift shops or the Supernanny shows to understand this.

Although it is more pronounced in children, this behavior is also seen in adults. Binge eating, retail therapy, alcohol abuse are a few ‘disorders’ of modern society adults.

An old saying goes – ‘don’t go hungry for grocery shopping.’ A recent study theorizes that hunger may ‘spill over and put consumers into the mode of wanting more stuff in general, beyond just food.’


  ‘Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.’  – Cree Indian Proverb