Saturday, October 30, 2010

i do not want what i haven’t got

… 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?


  1. well written and thoughtful post Sal. I agree, I don't think our wants are unlimited when we look at our real in-our-heart wants, of which I feel like I have everything I have ever wanted right now. I realised this a few weeks ago when I got in contact with an old mate and have been thinking about it a lot...My other wants are an extension of the ones I have getting old with chef and being with him when Busy has grandchildren. Our continued good health etc...really the rest is just fluff.

  2. Sally! Amazing that you wrote this because as I was heading off to bed early last night exhausted I had a random thought which was if I just stayed away from the computer I would remove so much of my 'inspiration' and quiet my head of the 'I want to do this', 'have to do that' and 'need to try something else'. In the same way you speak of your son if I hadn't seen it I wouldn't have know it existed to take up brain space and go onto the end of the seemingly never ending mental list ...

  3. The Bible refers to "the desire of the eyes". If we stop allowing our eyes to see the great variety of no essentials then we stop our heart ever wanting them. Our husband will not know the glories of the latest car if he never sees it. We will not know how much we want THAT bag, ring, material, etc if we have not let our eyes rove to see them. We can still be intellectually diverse without looking at all the junk mail, window shopping etc. Cherrie

  4. Great post Sally. Hubby and I talk about this a lot- as well as how we can decrease the material clutter in our life. Everytime I think "we will just get this then there is nothing else we need/want" sure enough right around the corner there is something else we need or want. But then find that we can life without indefinately or that the "need" goes away...

  5. Amazing post Sally. I have found cutting down TV time, not buying magazines, or looking at brochures that come in the mail has significiently reduced my wants. I see amazing gardens etc that I dream of owning, but we are happy where we are and are making the most of what we have.

    Cutting down computer time would help too, but hmmm, maybe not LOL

  6. Great post Sally. I have taken to throwing the junk mail in the bin - If I saw it then I wanted it - so now I am not tempted and only go LOOKING at the real shop if I really truely need it and not influenced by advertising. I have found it really hard the last few weeks with all of the Halloween stuff out to explain it to Miss 5 that it is an American thing that Australia are trying to jump on board with for the $$$$ that I am certain is involved in such things.

  7. What a lovely thought provoking post Sally. I couldn't go past without adding my thoughts too! I'm afraid I have lots of wants - but most of them are not material ones, but more wanting to be better at things, able to do things I used to be able to do. I want my kids to have a chance at everything possible.....I want them to be happy, and so many other things....
    and that list is pretty long.
    As for material wants, yep, have them too, but they come and go, and I always like to try to make whatever material thing I or my kids decide we 'want'. Ok so it doesn't always work, but I would say that most of the time we can work something out. Really when we want something material, it often doesn't matter 'what' but just that we get 'something'... I think....

    Hope that makes sense!

    I'm off to ponder on that some more!! :)

  8. Hello Sally,

    A thought provoking post. Sometimes it is the "wanting phase" of wanting something that is the special thing. When you get your "want" it may not be as good as you thought.
    Remember though we only live once and as long as you live the lifestyle you love and go to bed happy each night every day is a blessing.
    Though my want well a dream is to go to the Maldives. Our daughter rang me the other day and said she and her hubby were going for 2 to 3 weeks next March!!!! I will get something from the Maldives so I am happy.
    Have a great week Sally.

  9. Hi Sally!
    I'm catching up on blog pals and it seems a lot of us are in this thoughtful mood at the moment! When I lost Mum and Dad this year, materially I wanted Dad's chair and Mum's pefume but it was obviously the sentimental connection I wanted. What I really want is for it to be 2009 again, forever.
    Sarah xxx

  10. Now there is a thought!! I have asked myself for a long time if it is a need or a want???? Mostly the wants are not needed so we don't get them. The needs are something that come from deep in the core of you, need to feel loved, need to be respected, need to look after our health, those sorts of things. It is really hard with kids tho as their world is so materialistic. I can't stand the fact that christmas starts in September now...I know about delayed gratification but making the kids wait for 3 months is insane! I try to avoid all the advertising but my kids are already doing the I want chant.....give me strength :-)

  11. Oooo marvellously thought provoking Sal! Especially as I ponder the current generation of entitlement where wants appear to be paramount!
    I want to see a mere smidge of old fashioned values return, but that's not the wants you're talking about here, is it?
    Personally I'm blessed to want for nothing. To have found inner peace and contentment from within my soul, my core, through life's lessons is greater than I ever imagined possible!
    Your final questions are riddles/ dilemmas to ponder further! xo


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