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I need to want to need you to want you to need me!

     THAT hurts my brain to read----it most likely hurts yours too----though that is not really my intention.

Sunrise in Seattle     Do you ever think about the difference between “need” and “want?”  Most people throw them both around interchangeably----but they are actually very different.

  

     Is it ever appropriate to say I NEED a new car, or I NEED a bigger house, or I NEED bigger or smaller breasts etc?  Basic or primary needs cover territory like oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature.  Without these basic needs being met, life is simply not going to be possible for very long.

     After these basic needs are met we get into the more human needs associated with security, and love. 

     When these areas of need are met we then can develop self esteem and are free to pursue our dreams in life.  If one looks at these needs in the form of a pyramid with the smallest point at the top being self esteem and the pursuit of ones dreams, we can see how society can easily keep us trapped in the bigger base of the pyramid as we struggle to have our most basic needs met.  We can actually set up whole paradigms of madness to keep us from meeting our basic needs----resulting in whole generations of individuals (even whole cultures) that never get to pursue their dreams with self esteem.

     We can think of this in terms of the long list of things we call needs that are not really needs at all but are really just things we want.  What effect does it have on our brain at a chemical or electrical level when we tell it we “need” something that we actually only “want?”  The same things that are activated when we are deprived of food, air, and water are activated to some degree.  We become desperate, willing to fight, even kill to have those presumptuous “needs” met.

     In a very real sense, as Erich Fromm said, we have become an, “insane society.”  An irrational state of mind where as a society we are co-conspirators with all those around us to have our “wants” treated as “needs.”

     I think it might be a good idea to keep this in mind the next time we say things like we need more oil, we need more money, we need more guns, we need more government, we need less government or we need a faster car.

     Some of the things we want seem so entangled in what it takes to satisfy our basic needs, it is easy to understand how they might be confused for each other; but, we should not let that confusion interfere with making the correct choices necessary to maintain a difference----to avoid arriving at a place where we actually think that getting what we want is the pursuit of our dream.

     The old saying, “If you are not careful you get what you want,” is very true.

 

Charles Buell

 

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Comment balloon 29 commentsCharles Buell • February 21 2009 05:05PM

Comments

My buyer's package includes a section explaining the difference between needs and wants. Interestingly, it's a new concept for many buyers.

Posted by Vickie Nagy over 9 years ago

Charles--This reminds me of conversations I would have with my sons in their toddler years about whether a toy was a NEED or a want. It takes thought to learn the difference. Good post.

Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 9 years ago

Vickie---that is too cool---good idea.

Teri---it can be a reall challenge learning the difference----there are all kinds of pressures to convince us that our wants are needs.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

The Stones said it you might not always get what you want but you might get what you need.  Erich Fromm is one of my favorite writers.  Thanks.  I could say a bunch more but I will make this short and sweet?!?!?

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) over 9 years ago

Charles, that did indeed hurt my brain, but I survived that hurt because I wanted to understand your point.  :)   I need air and oxygen and blood and water and food..  everything else is want, I have  many wants some days.  Other days I want steak and not hamburger.  SO then I need to work more!  ahhhhhhhhhh.. .now I'm back to confusion.

Posted by South Austin Real Estate Blog (Sky Realty South Austin) over 9 years ago

Suzanne, thanks---when I was in college I read everything by Erich Fromm that I could get my hands on, pretty amazing stuff and just as applicable today---if not even more so.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Gail the idea is that there is a hierachy of "needs" with air, oxygen, water and food being the giant supporting base of our needs.  On top of that we add love and security and then self esteem and the pursuit of our dreams.  Our wants are really the things that we put in the way of achieving our real needs:)  For example to not eat a hamburger that we need as food because it doesn't have cheese and mustard and ketchup and made at McD's is more the "want" part.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

How right you are we need to understand the basic difference between want and needs-you did a wonderful job of explaining them both.

Posted by Pat Champion, Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) over 9 years ago

Pat, thanks

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

OK!  Now I get it!  I thought that I needed a face lift.  I don't.  I just want one!  It's goot to have the distinction!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I want to go home from the hospital, I need to shut up and get a bit better before I can go.  Don't want to take the long way home.  good post, just checking in.  cw

Posted by Cheryl Willis, MO Broker - Mt Vernon, Monett, Aurora, Barry & Law (RE/MAX Solutions- OZARK MISSOURI) over 9 years ago

Abraham Maslow wanted a need pyramid and got one!  For me, I have more guns than I need, but less than I want.  Is that what you mean?  At least my car is fast enough...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I've always made it practice to ask God for my  needs to be taken care of and not ask him for what I want. 

 

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 9 years ago

I can actually remember the event that led to my being able to differentiate the difference between my wants and my needs. That moment totally changed my life for ever. Great post Charles, it's no wonder I keep coming back to your blog.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

Charles I think you have to truly need something at one point in your life to know the difference.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Patricia---too funny----but yes that is the idea:)
Jay----for you too----something like that:)
Tammy---most likely a wise idea.
Suesan, sounds interesting----perhaps a future blog post someday?
Jack---most likely true.  Although I think parents and bring their kids up that way if they work at it.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles - My brain is too numb to feel the pain. H-m-m-m-m - decisions! decisions! Do I want a millun bucks or do I need a millun bucks - Can I choose both?

Your building consultant in the Nashville, TN area - Michael

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles-- Thanks for the suggestion, might be a good post for AHA.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

This sounds strangely familiar. We need to understand the difference between what we need and what we want. When we don't get what we want, that shouldn't make us unhappy. Wants should not define us or our happiness. Our needs can be more easily be satisfied and once they are we can build from that point to achieve, strive for things we may want.

Society now is struggling with not being able to have their wants satisfied. We have been taught that happiness comes from having things, possessions, material things. How foolish and silly.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

I think I can, using examples, make the two words clear to you.

I, Nutsy Wallenda, want you and Mr James to quit picking on me.

I, Nutsy Wallenda, need you to send me my paycheck from Christmas time.

Hope this helps with your pitiful little problem there.

Nutsy at the office computer

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Thanks Suesan----already posted it to AHA:)

James, yes, and I thank you for sparking the idea for this post.  I always appreciate our coast to coast conversations:)

Nutsy, fortunately there is nothing I "need" from you:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, this is a nice adaptation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs as related to real estate and other objects we buy. Thanks!

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 9 years ago

Most people think they NEED a bigger, more expensive house. I on the other hand, WANT less yard to mow next summer.

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

Without the cash you owe me, that I need, I cannot make payments on my zoot suit that I want. That is a crisis I do not need or want.

Nutsy at the keyboard

 

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Maria, thanks and you are welcome.

Kevin---I hear you there.

Nutsy, you "need" a brain.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

One of the problems with society now is probably too many parents giving kids everything they WANT instead of what the kids NEED!  We end up with a bunch of spoiled kids who expect too much too easily!  Except for sweet Nutsy.  He deserves everything he wants!!!

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

A great many parents never had their own primary needs met which leads them to believe that if they can satisfy their kid's wants they are satisfying their needs.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, I really do need a million dollars to buy all of the things that I want!

Honestly, I have everything I need, My family, a roof over my head, food to eat, Love, laughter and health. 

Thanks for the most excellent post, you always have wonderful things to say.

Posted by Amy Hahn, Realtor/Broker - Crystal Coast, NC (Pine Knoll Shores Realty) over 9 years ago

Amy, thanks---always glad to have you visit:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

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