KALYANI ADUSUMILLI compares wants and needs, and explores how the simple life helps us keep a check on needs and wants, leading to contentment and happiness.
To truly find contentment, it is commonly thought that we must distinguish between our needs and wants. Needs imply basic requirements to survive, such as water, air, and food; in other words, that which we cannot live without. But typically, we also include the intangible, like friendship, love, and security, among our needs.
Needs are supposed to be less than our wants, so we approach life practically. After all, we can want anything, including flying to the moon! Generally speaking, our wants are things we assume will improve our life somehow. But as our society grows more materialistic, our wants are often frivolous, not to mention numerous.
What happens when we have too many needs, though? These days the line between needs and wants has become increasingly blurry. One could argue that humankind’s continuing progress, especially technological advancement, naturally leads to a shift in what we now consider a need.
There’s a reason simplicity works better.
There’s less clutter in our minds
and more room to focus on what truly makes us thrive
– health, happiness, a sense of purpose, and love.
But then, is that actual progress if our needs are more complex as a result? How many of us consider a smartphone a need? They certainly make life convenient. But at the expense of what? Are we happier and more productive? For me, it’s a resounding “No!”
There’s a reason simplicity works better. There’s less clutter in our minds and more room to focus on what truly makes us thrive – health, happiness, a sense of purpose, and love. As our needs grow, so do our stress levels and reliance on the external. But with less dependence, there is more freedom. Freedom to be.
What if we took a step back to when we had everything that we needed simply by waking up to a new day, a fresh chance at living fully? Back when we treated our planet more gently, in appreciation of its beauty and its bounty. Back when we walked across the street and knocked at a neighbor’s house to pass the time. Back when we just needed the bare minimum to flourish because we had everything that we needed in each other.
What do you really need?
Illustrations by HOLLY
Kalyani is a health law attorney and writer who lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two sons. She is a mental health and mindfulness advocate who went on a journey to find happiness, discovered how to help others be happy, and has become a more authentic version of herself.