One of the biggest challenges we face is to distinguish between what we want and what we need.

We all want happiness.

It struck me today that when we focus on chasing our wants, our level of happiness actually drops. The more we focus on what we don’t have, the more deprived we feel. After all, inherent in the meaning of “wanting” is not having, and you cannot feel fulfilled while you focus on what you lack.

Studies of happiness and wealth repeatedly show that happiness levels do not continue to increase with increased levels of wealth. That is to say, once you have what you want, your sense of happiness is not fulfilled.  In actual fact, you will find yourself lacking in happiness and is still seeking that fulfillment of happiness.

Too often, in a materialistic society, people become obsessed with achieving greater levels of wealth and also that “feeling” that wealth can provide. While it can feel good to earn a high salary, and while there is nothing morally wrong with doing so, to expect that a higher amount in your bank account will keep you fully satisfied emotionally is short-sighted.

The key to happiness is this: The fulfillment of our needs, not our wants, is what makes us happy. Thus we would do better to focus on how much is enough to fulfill our various needs, and strive for balance in our lives. Striving for what we want, becomes excessive, distracting, and even stressful.

For example, pursuing extra wealth when we are lacking in family relationships, reflects an imbalance, where the emotional wealth of relationships are rewarding, less stressful and more fulfilling.

A while back, I saw something in a newspaper add that I really wanted.  It being a bit more expensive, I phoned hubby to first discuss it with him…… to my dismay and utter disappointment, he only had one thing to say to me: “Do you want it, or do you need it?”   Needles to say, I was not too happy!!!!  But once I calmed down, his words made me think.  When we are shopping and there are great sales going around, we tend to load in more into our trolley and we justify the buy by saying it’s a good price, we will need it later, just to throw it out a couple of months later.  We tend to buy what we want on sales, and not necessary what we need.

We need love.  We need happiness.  We need relationships.  We need a soft bed and warm clothes.  Come to think of it, we would do best to gain clarity on what do we really need in each area (physically, emotionally and spiritually), and separate that from what we think we want. Then work toward fulfillment of those needs, while keeping our wanting in check.

So next time you see something you like, first ask yourself is you need it or do you want it, and then decide the necessity of it.