I was talking with friends on Facebook about Fitbit when I remembered that I bought it not too long ago. It is obviously a want since I could exercise without the need for such devices and it cost me more than a few packets of chicken rice. But I knew how I ticked after living with myself for so long. If I look back with hindsight, I can safely say that the purchase of such a want creates a new habit that benefited me greatly. It makes me look forward to exercising and looking at all the data generated. Can I say that such a want is really a need in disguise?
Many years ago, I wanted to learn how to play the guitar. I bought the cheapest guitar available. It’s even second handed because I thought it does not make sense to buy such a good instrument if I cannot sustain my interest in it. Silly me. I did not know that interest in something new is malleable, not constant and in flux. My future interest is dependent on what I do right now. If I had bought a brand new guitar, moderately priced and not the cheapest, it might have pushed me a bit harder towards the direction that I wanted to go. I did eventually bought a better guitar and sold off my low rated first one. Did I mix up wants and needs at that time?
In the past, my definition of needs is something that is aligned to your value system, while a want is something that is not. But with many trials and tribulations in life, I think my definition of needs and wants had been changed.
A need is something that is aligned to your current value system, but a want could be something that is aligned to your future value system. A person will change. What I like 20 years ago is different from what I like now, and what I like 20 years later. A value system is also subjected to changes. Who can tell if what I value in the future is going to be the same as what I value right now? Hence a want opens the window of possibility to peek into your future value system, to explore and discover a self that is more aligned to yourself.
Did the proverbial strawberryish yolo-ish generation get it right after all? They are stereotypically said to indulge in their wants because you only live once. To be fair, all generation have members that are like that. Perhaps the pursuit of Wants is really an exploration of our Needs. Is it too much to test out and explore what our needs are? If I haven’t tried avocado toast and Starbucks coffee, how do I know if I like them? If I don’t travel around different countries, how do I know if another place is really my home? Needs cannot be imparted, or instructed from a parent to a child; it has to be discovered through the process of trial and error and most importantly, reflection. We should not be too quick to point the fingers at others without taking a closer look at ourselves.