During my first job, when I got my first credit card, I remember how I went on a shopping spree. Yes, I’m not proud of what I did back then. Back then, I was a sucker for red colored t shirts. So in one of those episodes, I had gone to a recently opened clothing shop. The guy at the shop showed me some.

 I liked. I picked one. He showed some more. I picked more. Now he was getting delighted and began to show even more items. I picked some more. I had two bags of clothes. Upon getting back to my residence, the thought that came to my mind was of the tshirt that I did not buy! Now when I think of it, at the time I did not need as many I bought, but somehow the contents in the bags spoke otherwise. 

Just about a hundred years ago, what were man’s needs that gave rise to his aspirations? A house, land, cattle, a good spouse, kids and enough food on the table for all; reputation in the society that earned him a front seat at community events and some good entertainment once in a while. Is that all, you say? Well, by and large, yes! Cut to today. Would we be happy with the things listed above? Heck, no!

Maslow would be grimacing had he been around now, seeing how ‘needs’ have changed into ‘wants’ so quickly. We want much more than this to even feel we’re barely enough. We want fancy cars and gadgets and need to change them every few months for added effect. If we have one, we want more. We want jobs that provide not just money but a heavy dose of boosted ego, enough satisfaction and also the opportunities to grow. We want the thousands of likes on social media for every post of ours. We want and want and keep wanting more. Nothing is ever enough. We were a kid who would grab the ice cream and finish it off, and yet keep looking at his younger sibling slowly relishing it.

We are still that kid whose wants have become monstrous with age. We’re not happy to have fulfilled our hunger and keep eating without a need. Maslow hierarchy of needs spelt outphysiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization, but today’s wants have far outgrown Maslow’s thinking. Why has this happened?

Every living organism has some basic needs like food, water and mate. Humans outgrew that phase. They needed safety from wild animals and natural elements. That met, they needed love and belonging and thereupon came the institution of marriage. Relationships, community living brought about the need for esteem and recognition. When we’re done with that, cam self actualization needs. This was the process of human evolution. But the industrial revolution of the past two centuries has brought about unprecedented progress. And it leaves us not needing but wanting for more. There are two reasons why humans are craving for more and more and never appear to be satisfied

Confusing wants and desires for needs

Not being grateful for what you have

Needs and wants are two drastically different things. Needs are fulfilled to leave you happy and contented. Wants actually never end. They are like a bottomless pit. Needs satisfy life’s basic functions. Wants boost the ego which needs to be fuelled again and again.

Not very long ago, people would be happy to even get a square meal or a good pair of clothes. Having some money saved would be a boon. Today, we are always insecure about our tomorrow. We are scared about the hefty medical bills if we fall ill. We fear for our kids’ education and future. We fear for our jobs, lest we lose them. We keep wanting more and more because nothing makes us secure anymore. This unending wanting has kept us away from feeling grateful for what we have. Read more...