Has it ever happened to you to ask your loved ones about something you intend to buy and they answer that you simply don’t need it? How much do you want it? What is it that separates need from desire, or even better what do we define as need and what as a desire?
With the term need we refer to everything we need in order to be able to experience a life full of health and safety. In ancient times the three basic needs of man were food, clothing and shelter. With the passage of time, however, other kinds of needs have been added such as education, health care and safety, since they improve our quality of life.
There are now two categories of needs. One is psychological and the other is physical. While physical needs include water, clothes, shelter, medicines and other tangible things that we can put in our hands and see with our own eyes, the psychological needs of the human being are those that are necessary for human happiness and well-being such as love, self-esteem, sense of security, etc.
On the other side, desires are defined as something that a person would like to possess, it is not necessary for his survival but most of the time it makes life more comfortable, more beautiful or meets other criteria such as belonging to a group. For example, if a person’s need is to have a roof, his desire may concern how many rooms he will include, in which area he will be located, etc.
Needs and desires have several differences on the basis of which we can distinguish them. Let’s see what they are:
- Needs are common to all people and remain constant over time, in contrast to desires that are different from person to person and from time to time.
- Needs are very specific, while for desires “sky is the ceiling” that is, there is no limit.
- The non-satisfaction of needs has serious consequences for the survival of man, in contrast to the non-satisfaction of desires which even if it fills us with disappointment does not bring serious consequences for our lives.
- Unlike needs common to all, desires are indicative of a person’s character and personality.
If, however, it seems difficult for you to separate needs from desires, there is a question that takes you out of this predicament: “Can I live without it?. If the answer is positive then we are referring to a desire, but if it is negative then we are referring to a need that must be fulfilled.