When our wants transform into our needs

OlympianOctober 14, 2013 

Sigmund Freud’s Pleasure Principle reads, “I want what I want when I want it, and never mind the consequences.” The Bible defines sin the same way. Sin, that is the I centered life, insists, as Frank Sinatra used to sing, “I’ll do it my way.” I will get my needs met, my wants fulfilled, no matter what happens to you. So, I practice the prayer, “my will be done, look out!”

Someone has suggested, for us affluent Americans, even though many are becoming less affluent thanks to certain policies, that “more and more of our luxuries are becoming necessities.” Indeed, how easily our wants keep interfering with and exceeding our needs, until we inherit the philosophy portrayed in one of the Bellemy Brothers’ songs, “Too much is not enough,” or that of another popular song, “Why is all that we have never, ever enough?”

Have we ever taken some quiet time to ask ourselves what we really need to have a satisfied life with a satisfied mind? If we have never done so, our frustration persists because we will never catch the invisible carrot. In reality, our wants almost always exceed our pocketbook, though maybe not our credit cards.

Granted, the advertisers tantalize and titillate us. Still we consent to their subtle, and not-so-subtle, pressures — believing that we deserve both the best and the most of what the world offers. Thus, we substitute buying and doing for being and becoming. We substitute things for relationships. A son, for example, might not need a baseball glove from his father nearly so much as he needs 10 minutes of his father’s undivided attention, every day. A daughter might not need another dress nearly so much as she needs a mother who quietly listens to her frustrations or excitements.

A child needs a parent who lovingly, instead of angrily, sets limits. A husband and wife need to structure some intimate time together each day, rather than take another trip which might leave them more exhausted than refreshed. How easy to substitute everything under the sun for productive relationships.

I have a bias about what I think we actually need: a caring community of friends and acquaintances and a growing, deepening relationship with our Creator. That may sound corny. If so, so be it. I’m not talking about becoming so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good.

On one hand, we are great pretenders. We look good, attractive, healthy, pleasing on the outside. On the other hand, unless we make some new decisions, we walk around as empty shells, busy as bees, tossed to and fro by every idea, thought, word, windbag. Thus, we remain hollow, frightened anxious people, wondering when the end will come.

We know how to become whole persons, yet we choose to remain persons with holes. To learn how to sift our wants from our needs requires an inner strength and discipline, which in my opinion, comes as a gift from the Creator.

For those who do choose to acknowledge that life is a gift, we are neither given a formula, nor are we guaranteed success, as the world defines success.

However, I invite you to consider the following question as a way to live life in a new light. With the belief that all of life is sacred; all of life is Holy Ground, how will such thinking make a difference in the way we relate to nature? To our vocation? To recreation? To social problems? To other nations? To neighbors? To our mate and children? To our needs and our wants?

Joy and excitement in your venture!

Wayne Keller is a member of The Olympian’s 2013 Board of Contributors He can be reached at waynekeller6@ 

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