“Today I focus on my needs rather than my wants.”
Needs versus wants. I have been giving this much thought over this last week, since this challenge was posted. I want to be better. That’s easy enough to do want when you’re sick of course. I want to feel better…I want to feel better, becomes my mantra. Interestingly enough, it never occurs to me to think I need to feel better. Maybe it’s because deep down inside, I always know my needs are being basically met. I thought I had saw Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on one of the posts I read. So here they are: (“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Simply Psychology. 17 Sept. 2007. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.)
✔ 1. Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
✔ 2. Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.
✔ 3. Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
- Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
- Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning, etc.
✔ 6. Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
- Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
- Transcendence needs – helping others to achieve self-actualization.
I have 4 of the 8 check on Maslow’s Checklist. And I want the other 4 and those works in progress. Esteem and cognitive needs are always worked on. Those 2 areas I work on a daily basis by using the tools I have learned through 12-step programs, therapy, life coach’s, sponsors and host of well meaning friends and last but not least my chosen family.
The last 2, self-actualization and transcendence are also worked on everyday, but those are worked more on a spiritual and altruistic level. That starts every morning with my meditation practice. It is by stilling my mind and connecting with my heart that I can ask the Divine: What is my purpose today and how can I be of maximum service to all sentient beings? Helping others is my purpose is the answer I hear in the stillness of those early morning hours. So here is where is gets tricky for me when it comes Need vs Wants. There are a lot of things I want. I want to be a life coach. I want my photography business to do well. I want to own a tesla. I wanted to win the Powerball. There are many things I want each day but here is what I know about most wants; wants are usually things that I don’t have (future) or things that I have lost (past). When I am either in the future or the past, I am living in an egotistic state. Ego is always in a constant state of want. If I am in a ego state, there is no way I can be in a state of spirit, authentic self or aligned with the Divine. The Divine can only be found right here, right now in the present. When I am firmly planted in the present, then I find that all my needs are fulfilled.
Does this mean I can’t want things? I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But as I become more mindful (self-actualized) one of the keys to minimizing wants is to find gratitude for all my needs being covered. Almost everyday I do a gratitude list. At the top of that list is: I am grateful for being alive, awake and sober! From there it is easy- I am grateful for my partner and others in my life who love me unconditionally and support the evolution of my highest self. I am grateful for having a beautiful warm house to live in and food in the refrigerator to eat. Today I am grateful that I have the experiences that I have had, so that I can be of maximum service to everyone. My list of things to be grateful could be long and extensive. But the idea here is to remember that, especially in times where things are not so easy. Whether that is driving in the evening commute or a close friend dying unexpectedly. So easy it is to forget gratitude, when someone cuts us off driving when it is pouring rain, or we get in a fight with our loved ones or friends, co-workers or strangers.
So much can fall into that “Self-Actualization” category. So much I am going to create a sub-list for that.
- Prayer and meditation
- Gratitude list
- Reading spiritual literature (many great authors out there)
- Exercise (yoga, dance, hiking, paddle boarding) you get the idea
- Volunteer work: this is one of those things that serves our life’s purpose- being of maximum service to others
- Art: get creative… get inspired… I love the word inspired. It means “in spirit.”
So when I think of all the things I get to do on a daily basis, then all of my needs are being met and so my wants are kept to a minimum. And when my wants are minimized I am closer to living in a state of true alignment with the Divine, than a state of ego desires. And for me, than I living my life’s purpose. To discover love and joy- and that is a good day for me.