How we can have a satisfying life by looking for the practical – giving priority to needs over wants


There is a lot of human thought that goes into examining possibilities.  It is quite likely that much energy is spent in thinking about wants and needs.  Focusing on wants is more in accord with how the capitalistic world has set up its advertising.  The expectations of individuals also coincide with the advertised life.  Some have achieved that life, but it continues to be a very small minority.  At the end of the day, it is fulfilling the needs that are truly important, regardless of how many desires a person has become capable of fulfilling.  This is the essence of practical thinking.

Simplicity is desirable
Simplicity is desirable

Identify the needs

It has become the case, that many people simply have forgotten the difference between their desires and their needs.  This is true not only of individuals, but even of societies, institutions, and governments.  For so long, especially after the great wars of the 20th century, Western lands advertised the possibility of unparalleled and never-before-seen prosperity.  This is understandable.  There was the desire to create a world of the greatest possible comfort and human achievement so that people and societies never think of war again.  With prosperity and comfort, people would even lose the desire for destruction – so it might have been felt.  We see evidence to the contrary, don’t we?

The truly sustainable way of life is one where needs are met at all times and desires can be met some of the times.

It is up to each person to identify his or her needs.  This is not very difficult to do.  Needs are basically joined with life.  What are the things one needs to live?  Food, clothing, shelter, companionship, work, security, spiritual fulfillment – if each of these needs is met, each person can live a fulfilling life personally and in co-existence with others.  Even the plants and animals in a person’s surroundings find a balanced existence with such a person.

Finding sustainability first

Before a structure is built, what is most important?  Is it not the foundation?  If a city is built, what is most important?  Is it not the planned infrastructure?  This is also true of personal life.  A personal life built on the satisfying needs gives the necessary “foundation” and “infrastructure” for satisfying desires.  It would not be a measure of success if a person has attained capability to satisfy desires like getting the most expensive gadgets and to travel around the world, but in his private life is unable to sit down with a friend and have a meaningful conversation.  Those other things bring pleasure, but not the kind that humans have found to be truly satisfying.

One of the noticeable phenomena is, how the young people of today exhibit confusion regarding their lives and what direction to take.  Typically an understanding of the system and going along with it would have been considered the normal thing to do.  However, the system of today is undergoing change.  One cannot safely predict what the future would be like, but what one can predict is that human needs will remain the same.  Desires have been known to change with innovations and prevailing trends.

It still makes sense to become capable of fulfilling one’s needs before aspiring for greater things.  This remains sustainable throughout life.  Surely, not all people are the same.  Practical thinkers can be found among all segments of people – young, old, men, and women.  Every person who stays grounded is practical.  It takes a certain humility, but that humility does not mean an inability to think of great achievements.  A practical thinker simply is a humble person, and he stays humble despite being capable of great thought and great achievement.

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