… or do I?
I’ve been considering my “wants” a bit over the past week, indulging myself in one of those reflective life self-assessments. There have been bigger issues at play but something that indirectly came up was what do I actually want. Sounds easy enough to determine … or is it?
Lateline’s Leigh Sales wrote this week that the two useful lessons of her education were from her Year 11 economics class: “wants are unlimited but resources are limited”. (The other was touch typing – gotta agree with that). But is it true? Are our wants really unlimited, or do we just think they are?
I am reminded of Mr. 3, who on the face of it wants much at his eye level when we are out and about. He never knew it existed until he saw it, oftentimes he doesn’t really know what it is, and by the time he’s passed the checkout he’s completely forgotten about it ... until next time. I contrast that with what I would call his genuine desires – he can, for example, tell me that he wants to go to the park with nary a park in sight.
So I am not talking about the matter of wants versus needs, rather the wants that come from our core and are truly our own as opposed to those that are seeded through external manipulation – say the greater consumer machine in which we all live or even family and friends that are close to us and have their own agenda to serve. There are things that we genuinely want, that we are prepared to make sacrifices for even if they aren’t essential to our lives, and then there are the things that we are somehow convinced – or manipulated – into wanting, however fleetingly. Personally I don’t believe that our wants are unlimited, and fortunately I think for the most part my wants have already been satisfied – the wants that come from my core anyway.
So how do we deal with these phantom desires? Do they have an impact on us at a psychological level – to want something that somehow we don’t really want, and doesn’t satisfy us if we get it?