Needs and Wants. Is there really a difference?

Cali wants to come inside.

Cali wants to come inside.

Everyone has things they want and things they need but the line dividing those two categories is easily blurred. It’s difficult to define each category and nearly impossible to come up with an absolute definition of either. Needed things could be explained by the necessary physical requirements to sustain life like water, food, and shelter but we also need to take into consideration each person’s unique emotional needs. Wanted things are generally explained by the urge to obtain something that you don’t already have.

The problem is when wants and needs overlap each other or even begin to make up the other. Like when a want is driven by a need. For example—Steve the surgical intern aka “Two” (in the video below) wants to become an surgeon likely because he needs a career that can provide for his basic physical requirements. The patients that he treats need him to be competent and skilled so he doesn’t kill them but why does he want to become a surgeon and not dig ditches by the side of the road? The latter would very likely be less stressful and risky as he won’t be holding fragile lives in his hands.


But assuming Steve decides to continue working towards becoming a surgeon, it can be inferred that perhaps Steve wants to be needed by others. Or maybe he needs to to be needed? This is the fuzzy, in-between, emotional part of needs and wants because each individual has their own list of what they find essential and highly comforting in their everyday lives.

Personally, I think that I need to be surrounded by animals but realistically this idea is more of a want. I don’t actually need to have a Green Anole, after all, I’ve never picked him up and every year I spend about $250 on crickets alone not to mention the cost of special UVA, UVB, and basking light bulbs, substrate, and other essential supplies. But Kiwi does need me to supply him with everything he needs to live a happy and healthy life. And I suppose I need him to need me.

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So, maybe all of our wants are an emotionally driven conquest to meet a need that is not physical but rather an important aspect of our emotional health and satisfaction. Maybe our wants are the result of our needs and our needs the result of our wants. We want to need things. We need to want things. And maybe, just maybe, our wants and our needs are interchangeable and one in the same.


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