The Difference Between Want and Need.

The Difference Between Want and Need.

You may want celebrity status, love and affection. Your aim could be the accumulation of millions in savings or a house with a picket fence.  The latest car or the largest diamond has your thoughts spinning.  Yet you need none of this to continue to breath.

Your heart continues to beat and your organs function.  Even when all hopes and dreams have been shattered.  There’s a big difference between need and want.

A child relies on their parents for food, warmth, and clothing. The elderly reliant on the same necessities as they walk toward the tail end of life.  Becoming frail and dependent on others.


We have become accustomed to creature comforts. Enjoying material wealth.

You don’t need your phone to live. That’s a luxury item.  Something we all take for granted.

We have our hearts, minds and souls invested in our sweethearts. Any alteration to this partnership can break us.  We can love and feel grief over lose.  Yet we still breathe.

Materials mean nothing when things go wrong.

When a war is raging people flee for safety. The death of a loved one is a period of great sorrow.  In these times possessions mean nothing.  It’s when our friends, family and close colleagues are safe that we can feel loss over material accumulation.

When you’re depressed it’s of little importance what you drive or where you live. You will flop on the most expensive of couches or the most uncomfortable.  It’s irrelevant what you own in times of deep felt sadness.

The Difference Between Want and Need.

Simplifying the essentials.

There’s no need for electricity. Not having it would make life difficult.  We’re not skilled at managing without it.  Relying on power to charge devices, stimulating us around the clock.  Yet it’s not pertinent to our survival.

No electricity means no hot water. We may not cope well or feel comfortable about going without.  Yet it’s not crucial to our existence.

Clothes are not essential. We’re accustomed to being fully dressed.  We can build fire for warmth.  Animal hides have been used over centuries so as to maintain modesty, covering up our bits.  Every part of a beast had a purpose.  Nothing was wasted.

We don’t need a variety of foods to live. Basic staples will keep us fuelled with energy and in good health.

When our material wealth has been altered we’re unhappy about it. Yet we still breath, we eat, we survive.

All we need for survival is food and water.  

Non for profit organisation fund food deliveries in places where famine exists. These essentials don’t always arrive at their intended destinations.

There are towns controlled by bandits/rebels/terrorists. Using weapons to enforce their will.  Safety is dependent upon communities conforming to unfair standards.  The food is not distributed to those in dire need.  People are starving.

The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind.  Food is the moral right for that are born into this world.  – Norman Borlaug

Parents watching the kids fall ill and deteriorate. Their babies nothing but skin and bone.  Having no means to do anything other than comforting them.

Imagine you have nothing. Weak from starvation.  Fly’s buzzing around you.  A gust of wind sends dust into your eyes.  When it rains, all there is, is a tarp to keep people from copping the full brunt of the storm.  That’s hardship most of us will never know.

Young children having to walk for hours to get fresh drinking water. The risk of gang rape high.  This danger is well known, yet water is a necessity.

The difference between need and want becomes all too obvious.

Put it into perspective.

We’re all responsible when a fellow brother or sister can’t get one square meal a day. Regardless of colour or creed.

There is genuinely sufficient resources in the world to ensure that no one, no where, at no time should go hungry. – Ed Asner

You’re a valued member of a family unit. That may consist of blood relatives or people who care about you.  You’d do whatever it took to ensure their needs were taken care of.

What if you were a parent that had no way of providing those basic survival needs that we take for granted?

What you can do:

  • Donate to an organisation.
  • Volunteer some of your time at your local shelter.
  • When you prepare a meal, make extra and deliver it to someone you know who is homeless.
  • Send prayers and positive energy out into the universe.
  • If you have any solutions on how to combat famine, regardless of how odd it may seem – write about it. Share it. Make a noise.

Don’t you find it ironic that people are starving? We have brilliant minds creating the extraordinary.  Advances in technology turning over at great speed.  We are rich in money, resources and materials.  Yet each person here on earth does not get one square meal a day.

We can send a photo or video around the world in seconds. Alerting us to the undernourished in famine areas.  Snaps of the ill and forgotten.  Conditions unimaginable in this day and age.

This has the potential of going viral within minutes. We have something kind of shameful going on.

We are a people accustomed to luxuries. Electricity accessible via a switch.  Water delivered to a tap and a varieties of food purchased at a shop.  Entertainment at the touch of our fingers.  Yet we’re not dependent upon any of this in order to breathe.

Don’t confuse the desire for material accumulation with the basic needs of survival.

Today is where you count your blessings.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  
Posted in Behaviour, Self Development and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Hi Rachel,
    A good post and makes think . I reality we really do need very little to live a happy life. I have a habit of thinking twice if I want something and often this “want” disappears. If the want is good to bring me joy or is needed ,I go and get it . The needs are really what you write. A big need is what you did not write about you did more write about material needs,but many of this needs would not be that extreme if the immaterial needs would be realized. The needs I am talking about are the ones who could to a big extent solve the problem of the material ones. All is out of balance. our biggest need is good intention, kindness,love and compassion. I like your suggestions like volunteering or preparing meals and helping. I do not donate to an organisation. A smile or a good words bring more. Right giving is not understood anymore especially in the western world and it is not to give what we have too much,real giving is different. If only we would get a bit balance ,the world would change . By giving humanly and satisfying this needs, a lot of material needs would disappear.
    Thank you for you great article

    • Hey Erika,

      Generally we live in a positive frame of mind. Happy for others and ourselves. We want everyone to have their share of good health and wealth. It is when we are upset and feel less fortunate about life that we can really take things back to the basics.

      If someone has lost their job, the can feel fortunate that they have a week of pay to arrive. Maybe severance and holiday pay. Will that stop the bills coming in, no of course not, but there is still a little bit of breathing space. As opposed to those who can’t get one square meal a day.

      I agree with you Erika, we certainly do need good intention, kindness, love and compassion, however we will have none of this if we are starving. So our basic needs have to be taken care of first.

      Sharing our time or giving something of ourselves to others we feel joy at having done so. Its a two way benefit. I’m a bit like you I will volunteer my time at a non for profit organisation but I will not give money.

      Thanks for your comments.


  2. Hi Rachel,

    Inspirational. What you said are so true. The truth is a lot of us are in that “comfortable” state of life (i.e., for those who can read this, or your example, electricity) but another truth is that some of us (guilty here) sometimes don’t appreciate what we already have that’s a total *need* for others. We miss counting our blessings, we don’t stop to smell the roses–even though they’re everywhere.

    It is by first appreciating what we have that we get to see what the rest of the world truly needs–I’d contend that it won’t work the other way around. How true it is that food and water (or basic needs) are all we need, but when we don’t look deep into ourselves and don’t control ourselves from hankering after simple “wants,” we may only create problems instead of just going straight to the core of living–we create distractions, and become strangers to our own selves.

    This is a great reminder. Thank you.
    Ethan Bridges recently posted…Importance of Setting Goals: Winning Every DayMy Profile

    • Hey Ethan,

      To be human. That is what we all are. I too am guilty of feeling frustrated by slow internet rather than appreciating that I access to such tools.

      Every now and again we need a reminder of just how rich we are. When we strip it back to the basics there aren’t too many who read this that could feel they weren’t operating luxury items.

      I agree smelling the roses, taking time to stop and have a look around, we have everything within reach. Sometimes I feel so petty when I feel frustrated.

      Straight to the core of living. If we can do that in every minute we certainly have scored big in our thinking. I am always attempting to reach it and then forget by an inconvenience or an annoyance. Once again reminding that I still have much work to do to get to that place. Thanks for your comments.


  3. Hi Rachel,

    As we sit here in our place in Spain and watch our old fashioned small screen TV with a couple of feet protruding from the back we often say to ourselves that if thieves broke in as happens here quite a lot they wouldn’t want to take that!

    We’ve often said that although it would be nice to have a large flat screen smart TV and a device that allowed us to record programs and have catch up we don’t really need it.

    We get power cuts here and the water and gas gets cut off from time to time but we get used to these things and manage with the inconvenience although I can’t imagine doing without them all the time.

    We notice too how our children tend to throw things out and buy new when the items could be repaired as we did when we were their age.

    Not sure I agree with your statement about being able to stay healthy on basic staples. Depends exactly what you mean by basic and how you define “healthy”. The healthiest people in the world tend to eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables which many people would not think of as basic staples.

    I do donate to organizations that promote the growing of food without chemicals and try to get toxic chemicals banned from use in clothing, children’s toys and personal care products.

    I admire my daughter-in-law who volunteers to cook once a month for disadvantaged children. She takes my grand daughter along so she can appreciate that how privileged she is.

    Great thought provoking post as usual.

    Sandy Halliday recently posted…Best Raw Detox Food And Smoothies To Jumpstart Your DayMy Profile

    • Hey Sandy,

      Spain, I thought you lived in America. Don’t you just love that thieves would be let down. I’m glad you don’t have a fancy TV, you may be more inclined to use it more often.

      Your grand daughter being taken to volunteer work will have her wanting to share her time in the helping arena later on in life. She will feel it the norm to be helping or being of service to those who have nothing to give in return. Very impressive. I have not got around to it yet, but I want to do the volunteer work over the Christmas session. On Christmas Day serve the homeless. Not as a token gesture as an appreciation for what I have and who I am.

      I certainly expect you to disagree with me on the staples section of the post. I would have expected nothing less. Your my go to health detox guru. However when there is nothing but staples people will survive and not starve.

      Great organisations you support Sandy. I did not think as far as organisations that promote food without chemicals. But when I think of it, of course there would be. Some of those sprays used on foods have cancer causing agents in them. I can’t wait for the day I have a patch of land to grow my own.

      Thanks for the comments.


      • I live in England Rachel but I come to Spain twice a year for some badly needed sunshine and warmth. We should come out here more often but my husband can’t tear himself away from his garden and then of course I hog his laptop when we are away. He refuses to buy another for such a short time.

        • Hey Sandy,

          Well now I am envious. You’re on holidays. Oh England, I wonder why I thought America. Lap up that beautiful sun. We are heading into the cold season over in Australia. Not quiet ready to pack the summer clothing up yet, but I think I am in denial.

          I wonder who looks after the garden while you’re on holidays? Have a good one.


    • Hey Diane,

      It’s okay to have too much. It’s okay to live comfortably. And it certainly is more than okay to help another out. We will never regret helping someone in need and not expecting anything in return.


  4. Hi Rachel,

    What a beautiful article! We all need to live in gratefulness. Whenever I turn on the water faucet, I reflect on those who don’t have water. There are too many people on this planet that are deprived of that.

    Our food, although we might complain that it is not organic or something, it is there for our nourishment and we have the money to purchase it. There are so many people, especially children that don’t have food.

    When I volunteered in a food bank it was better than donating money because I got involved with the people there. The line when I first started was about 100 people and after several months, we were running out of food.

    If we have the luxury of food, water, shelter, then we as humans need to be giving to others on a continuous basis. If I cannot get out there I will donate money. But let us not forget that our clothes can be donated too. Everything we don’t need anymore should not be thrown in a land fill, but rather donated to one organization or another.


    • Hey Donna,

      There are so many ways we can contribute a little of ourselves to others who don’t have what we have. Like you said, donating clothes or time. Donna, spending time with people who don’t have too much is a gift in itself. We have the ability to lift individuals and all we have to do is listen and take interest.

      Our services here in Australia are also being pushed to the limit. The food back lines are increasing.

      When we give a bit of ourselves to others we get back ten fold. I always felt good after volunteering my time. Or sitting down with a person and having some food.

      I got into an argument with an alcoholic once who wanted the money I was about to spend on him for a sandwich. We stood and debated this for a couple of minutes before I gave him the choice. Sandwich or nothing. He wanted beer money. I handed him the sandwich, he took it begrudgingly. I was left satisfied that he was going to get a meal.

      Giving is receiving. Its a humbling experience. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Brenda,

      We’re all human and get caught up in our own worlds. We forget how fortunate we are. This post grounded me too. I get greedy too Brenda, especially for cookies. Thanks for your comments.


  5. Hey Rachel,

    Interesting post about getting back to the basics.

    Nowadays people are so reliant upon technology that when their batteries are dying and they cannot find an outlet they wonder around looking like a lost dog. Or running around like a maniac with wires in their hands. It’s mindblowing what we as a society have evolved into.

    And because of this evolution we’ve confused wants with needs, as you’ve demonstrated in the post. We don’t need any of these things. They have no direct connection to our lifeline. Just things we have become too attached to.

    It all reminds me of people to strive to know about the newest things when they come out. Personally, that’s not for me. I don’t get why they’re so obsessed with it. If it doesn’t help you grow or survive I feel like its not necessary.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…Who’s Life Are You Living?My Profile

    • Hey Lea,

      I agree people feel lost to the point to frustration when technical devices aren’t working. Or they struggle for something they want and don’t have access to immediately. What we feel we need has been confused. As you know there is very little we need to survive.

      That’s why a wrote the post. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our luxury comforts and forget how rich we are with the basic necessities. While I was writing this post I was very grounded. Feeling blessed with what I had in front of me.

      I really enjoyed cooking the night I made a quick draft of this post. It was a reminder that all I had to do was open the fridge door, get what was needed, turn a few nobs and get the heat started. Everything was at my finger tips.

      I know when I get annoyed with slow internet that really I should feel blessed that I have a computer and access to the technology that allows me to speak with you in seconds.

      Thanks for your comments.


  6. Hi Rachel

    As usual your posts are true to the tag. You have a way of dig deep that brings about the insight of an issue.

    You are so right. There is a big difference between Wants and Needs. You reminded me about the things that humanity cling unto which they believe is a need.

    We have so much that we can offer to provide the needs of others. There are some wants that are not really necessary in our lives.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care

    • Hey Ikechi,

      It was a very humbling post to write. It certainly stripped away my greedy wants that I can often take for needs as well.

      I agree Ikechi, we all have so much to offer to those that are in need. In years to come I expect myself to be a voice and action orientated towards those who can’t provide the basic needs for themselves. It is a passion of mine. I have spent many hours thinking about how to conquer this problem.

      For many years I used this as my happy radar. When things got me down or I felt as if was not getting what I wanted, I would often think, if I had to live where I feared for my life or I could not get food whenever I wanted then I would truly have something to be worried and sad about. I tell you – it certainly kicked me in the pants many times.

      Wants and needs are so different. Thanks for your comments.


  7. Hi Rachel,

    People usually appreciate the essentials when they lose them. A good example on appreciating what we already have in our lives and pay attention to the basics is to stay away from electricity a couple hours. This is why many people choose to go camping because it connects them to the nature and they value the meaning of the essentials. Thank you so much for this wonderful article!

    Psychic Nest recently posted…How to Survive Being an EmpathMy Profile

    • Hey Zaria,

      It’s your first time to my blog, so welcome.

      You’re so right. When we don’t have electricity due to a power outage, I am lost. Hoping I have all the batteries in my technical devices are at full capacity.

      Camping is a great way to get back to the basics and amongst nature. Mind you – have you seen some of the gadgets you can buy before camping. Its like cheating. But I get your point.

      As a quick fix, taking our shoes off and walking on grass or in well watered soil can relax us. Playing in the garden, planting, weeding and water is a great way to appreciate what we have. Observing nature and how wonderful it is. It strips away those wants.

      Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Ramona,

      It appears this is your first time to my blog, so welcome.

      That want/desire you talk of takes many lessons in humanity. Its a path less traveled and takes a lot of hard work and focus. But who would have it any other way.

      Glad you found me through Donna Merrill, she is one of my go to guru’s that keeps me on the blogging track. Thanks for your comments.


  8. Hi Rachel,

    What a really great article and you certainly put it in perspective. I agree with you that too many of us are fixated on all the luxuries our world has become accustomed to and we forget that all we need are the basics.

    I think we have become spoiled for comforts. I know I am extremely blessed and have so much to be thankful for. I also know that if I have to change my way of living to survive differently, I absolutely can do that. I had to learn to think that way when I became ill. Now that I am back functioning I again, I remind myself often that life is what we make it. We totally can survive without the riches. Basics, love, health and happiness. That’s the good stuff.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope things are going great. Have a great week and keep on smiling.

    Irish Carter recently posted…Sexual Assault Awareness! Stop and End AbuseMy Profile

    • Hey Irish,

      We certainly have got used to our comforts that is for sure. While there is nothing wrong with that, we need to remember that when we feel frustrated or annoyed that things aren’t going according to plan. Say the internet is slow, or you forgot to recharge your device and its out of battery time, its not the end of the world.

      Becoming ill and having to learn a whole new way of doing things would certainly put a different spin on life. Even now when you are back functioning at full capacity. They’re the lessons we never forget Irish. You would be able to that the when I was sick I did it like this, now that I am better I can do it like this. You learnt a whole new way of living and surviving.

      I have always found the riches in the things that can’t be paid for. The things you talk of are what no amount of money can buy. Love, health and happiness.

      I’m have a wonderfully productive week. Walking into the unknown and not feeling too wobbly about it at all. Hope all is well at your end.


  9. Hi Rachel,

    Thought provoking stuff.

    Over the years, I have simplified many things. It started out because A) – we rent, so we’ve moved a lot. When you accumulate a lot of stuff, it gets heavy and tiring. B) – Shopping all the time was never much of a luxury I was able to carry on with, so eventually, I took a good hard look at what shopping meant to me and realized it was nothing more than a reason to escape from pain.

    When I learned about how the goods we take for granted are produced (in factories where many of these workers aren’t paid well, treated well and are severely overworked), it made me realize that I have no interest in supporting that. By not making shopping anything other than something I do when I feel I can use something, it’s made life so much easier (and with far less crap to tote around).

    We sure do take a lot for granted. I love that quote by Ed Asner because it’s so true. I believe we have the resources to make it so that everyone has their basic needs met with dignity. It would take making some changes that I feel a lot of us are open to, and I do (thankfully) see some interesting developments taking place along with people making different choices.

    In my area, people grow food. I’ve been learning a bit about it and have a few plants here and there. I go to the local farmer’s market and support them. I take ALL my kitchen scraps to their compost pile, so none of it goes to waste.

    If more people did this sort of thing, food would be in abundance. We just have to keep making these changes. It’ll take nothing short of a shift in perception to do it though.

    Great read Rachel.
    Dana recently posted…How I Use Well-Being As A Tool For Personal EmpowermentMy Profile

    • Hey Dana,

      Moving from one place to another certainly does make you realise you don’t use as much you have. I too have first hand experience at this.

      Retail therapy said in jest says it all. Shop the pain away. Forget about your worries while doing something else.

      I bet you feel good about yourself when you can share your scraps and people actually are grateful that you have. Its exciting when recycling like that. I do stop and read your posts after you have come from the farmers market. Sharing your fruit and veg products and the wonderful prices. My favourite was when you bought a whole heap of tomatoes and made vegan spaghetti sauce.

      I feel the same way about sweat shops. People sitting in front of a sowing machine, over worked, under paid and mistreated. And what is worse, it’s an acceptable part of life.

      Not only do we have the resources to feed everyone, we have big businesses who think grinding their employees to the ground and underpaying them makes them rich. Financially it may but ethically they rob themselves due to greed.

      More and more we are seeing corporations pay fair wages, still they are rich in capital and integrity. I could go on and on about this.

      So when we strip everything back to what we need rather than want we certainly all are pretty rich.

      Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Cynthia,

      Hope you’re enjoying the challenge of simplifying and purging. Remember, if in doubt don’t throw it out. But if you know you can go with out – send it straight to the second hand shop or give it to someone who might need it.

      Thanks for your comments.


  10. Such a great wake-up call. We hardly need any of the things that we think we do. I volunteer and give back, but there is always room to do more when people are getting their basic needs met. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Hey Shann,

      Your volunteer work and the support I have seen you put in over the last month is impressive. Its been a great strong voice and I have enjoyed your auction and walk stories.

      As I was writing it, I was certainly bought back to the basics, it was a great wake up call for me too. Thanks for your comments.


  11. Rachel, Great post reminding us not to hold on to things so tight. We can’t take them with us. Items and money are just tools to help us get to where we are going. Life is more important than anything else. There is no need to brag about what you have, what you own. If you want to brag, brag about your ambition, your motivation, your will power, and how you helped others.

    • Hey Sandy,

      I agree Sandy we can’t take it with us. I really enjoy how you put it, money and comforts are nothing more than tools. Isn’t that the truth. Family and friends are important. We certainly don’t care for our surroundings when one of them has an emergency.

      I advocate knowing our strengths and dreams and sharing those. Talking about them rather than gossip. Thanks for your comments.


  12. Hi Rachel,

    Nice Post! There is a very thin line between needs and wants. Wants/desire is the cause of all the sufferings in this world. Thanks for the reminder!

    Have a great week ahead!

    • Hey Ana,

      I could not agree with you more. Our wants create a need and greed. People are willing trade integrity for status, power and money. We automatically know they are chasing happiness the wrong way. These actions will always have ramifications and lessons at some point. Thanks for your comments.


  13. This reminds me of Christmas time and how when my kids get older and can understand want and need, I will put these into place with Santa. Santa will bring them a couple things that they want, a couple things that they need and in return they will need to donate a couple things. 🙂

    • Hey Christine,

      I have always thought that showing kids from a young age what charity is and how easy it is to live without some of the stuff sets them up in the future. Generosity is such a wonderful trait.

      But its tough at Christmas, you may put that into practice, but everyone that loves and adores your family will want to spoil them. And for good reason. Thanks for your comments.


  14. I loved this post love. We actually do not need so much. We sure want so much and believe in the lie that somehow all these things will make us happy but they surly do not. Maybe for a day or two. It is so sad how much we throw away. We love to shop at thrift stores and donate to thrift stores. We have so much to be thankful. So many have so little.

    • Hey Irina,

      I’m with you – a thrift store is like a shop of originals. No two items are the same.

      We certainly do believe we need more than what we do. This post was just a reminder that when we look our situation and feel we are without or having a bad day, if we see just how much we have, we are rich in more ways than one.

      Using a switch to get light and heat, rather than having to find the wood, get the fire started. We forget that our life is easy. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey KarthikLinga,

      We can always be grateful even on a bad day when we think about how rich we are. When life gets hectic and we have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies anything else can be dealt with. It’s great that you have thoughts about helping others.


    • Hey SRP,

      If we remember that food, water and shelter are what we need, we would also appreciate how rich most of us actually are.


    • Hey Dhruv,

      That’s what its all about, working towards a happy, balanced and stable life. Understanding that unexpected circumstances can shake us up both positive and negative. Yet we are not daunted because we know that losing material wealth can be replaced, yet those we love are far more important.

    • Hey Marina,

      This article was written after I got a little frustrated with my mobile having no battery. I was terribly upset and stressed. When I thought about it a little I had got myself worked up all over such a trivial matter. This lead to thinking about the difference between need and want.

      Glad to be of some help.


  15. Hi Rachel !
    Thanks for sharing, Very well explained i appreciate you for this amazing post. I think we have become spoiled for comforts. I also know that if I have to change my way of living to survive differently, I absolutely can do that. I had to learn to think that way.Thank you for you great article.
    Mary Sara recently posted…Energy Wars : Green RevolutionMy Profile

    • Hey Mary,

      Its great you can recognize the difference between need and want. But what is more important is knowing that you could go without what you want. It takes away the struggle and eases the pressure.


    • Hey Rishabh,

      Want can motivate us. There is nothing wrong with wanting. But we can live without it. Needs are life’s necessities that enable us to survive on earth. I wrote this post to illustrate the difference between the two.

      Thanks for you comments.


  16. if in doubt don’t throw it out. but if you realize you could go along with out.We infrequently need any of the things that we think we do. I volunteer and provide back, but there is constantly room to do more whilst humans have become their simple needs met.

    • Hey Mikky,

      There are three piles when we do a spring clean. The ‘definitely keeping’ pile, the ‘throwing it out’ pile and the ‘I’m not sure’ pile. The third pile, is never thrown out until there is a clear decision.

      Very inspiring Mikky that you volunteer – I am certainly one of your fans.


Leave a Reply