Q: What do we actually “NEED”???
I love this question as EVERYONE I’ve asked seems to have a different answer. Some of them pretty amusing and some, damn right ridiculous!
If you’re to ask someone “what do you NEED in order to survive?”. Someone in the “modern world” is most likely to list things like “Oh well I defo need my phone, my car, my headphones, trashy T.V, my dog… ah man I love my dog, erm….. my mates, couldn’t live without them…” etc etc!! I see it on dating sites all the time
Q: List 5 things you can’t live without
1) My lipstick
2) My dog Rover – he’s my baby
3) My car Herbie
4) My morning coffee – Oh God, I can’t function without it
5) My bezzie mates – shout out to all my girlies!
(I know that could be deemed as sexist but when I look at profiles I look at ladies…. I’m sure guys do it too! In fact, I think mine included “The outdoors, sunshine, my piano, my health and music” so a little on the materialistic side too.)
But anyway, you get the picture, right?
I know they don’t mean it literally when they pose the question on the site, but the trouble is, people in the modern world (sometimes myself included) say we “need” things we could ACTUALLY do without!
There are plenty of lists that people have come up with like Tony Robins’ “6 Basic Human Needs” and Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and while these are all good (genuinely worth a read), even THEY are a little too detailed for the word “needs” for my liking.
So let’s just think about this for a second…….
Thought about it? Good!
I link the word “needs” to survival. What do we “need” in order to survive as human beings? Not what do we “want”. Not, what do we need if we wanted to “x,y,z”. I mean, what do we “need” in order to survive?
I’ve got just 5 (life or death) things that we NEED:
1) Air – I can speak from experience… if we don’t have air (the air around us will do just fine!) then we’re not going to last very long! I can hold my breath for around 1min when I’m well and around 10secs when I’m ill. So let’s say, without air, for the average person we’re not going to last more than a few minutes.
2) Water – prefereably clean, safe and parasite free. Our bodies are made up of around 60% water and we need it to function. We can go roughly 3 days without it (depending on the climate) but after about a day without it, our body will slowly start to shut down and cease to function optimally.
3) Food – again, preferably half tasty and parasite/poison free. We can last a good few weeks without food but during that time our bodies will start to eat themselves (the fat and muscle outside of the vital organs) to service the vital organs.
4) Sleep – scientists don’t actually know WHY we need sleep yet, but we need it! We literally wouldn’t last more than about a month AT BEST and I’m sure you’d agree, a few days without a decent sleep and we’re really not firing on all cylinders!
5) Warmth – basically, being somewhere warm enough so we don’t freeze to death. Being a bit nippy isn’t going to kill you, so “a dyson air blade” isn’t a need!
Anything after those 5 things you COULD claim to be “non vital”. People have survived for months on end at sea with nothing but the air, SOME water (not sea water which is too salty to drink) and what little food they’ve managed to find. They were warm enough not to freeze and were able to get their head down enough not to go dolally. (There was a story of one guy who even ate his own boots as they were leather…. I cannot even begin to imagine getting to such a desperate level, but it goes to show just how durable human beings are!)
Maslow also says we need sex in the “vital” needs, which I guess could be argued. However I’ve left that out as not getting laid isn’t going to kill you (I went the first 17yrs of my life without getting laid and, though pretty damn horny, I was still alive!).
When I see the excess we have in the modern world it does kind of annoy me to an extent (I say this, of course, sitting on my bed, under my silk sheets, typing on my Mac, with my iPhone next to me and with my iPad playing songs from Spotify through my Bose sound system!). I’m no saint. Please don’t think that I think I’m perfect. I’m not. I too can be just as much to blame. HOWEVER I am very aware of what I “need” and what I “want”. I do indeed have things I want, but when I can’t have something I don’t claim to “need” it and buy it anyway. And I would certainly never put “wants” ahead of “needs”. I am (hopefully) always able to tell between the two. And don’t for one second think that I’m telling you to give up “stuff”. I haven’t. “Stuff” can be awesome! I have some really nice stuff!
Buuuuuut I like to think that I don’t live in excess. I like to think I have “enough” and when I feel like I have too much I give some stuff away. Actually, talk to anyone who’s had a massive cull of their worldly possessions and they’ll tell you it’s massively liberating! I’ve done it. It’s great! My theory is, if I haven’t worn it or used it within a year then it can go to someone else who’s going to make better use of it. I’ve given away bedroom sets, big fancy TV’s, drum kits, stereos, pianos… you name it. I’m really not braggin’, saying I’m some kind of holier than thou, one man charity…. what I AM saying is, we all have shit we don’t need. And we all continue to buy MORE SHIT WE DON’T “need”!!
We need to be more honest with ourselves. We need to be able to distinguish between “need” and “want”. When we can, I think we’ll all be better off. Everyone (myself included) is guilty of convincing themselves they “need” something they “want” from time to time (I did it recently with some nice suits…. I’d never owned a nice suit and I figured, being that I was turning 30 I “needed” some nice suits!). Have a think…. I bet you’ve done it this past 6 months like me. If you GENUINELY haven’t then good work you! (Give yourself a high 5 you smug bastard!)
So if all we need to SURVIVE is air, clean water and edible food, sleep and to not freeze then why on earth do we have all the stuff we have in the world. Surely if that’s all we “needed” then all the stuff we haven’t wouldn’t exist?!?
Well no, because once we’ve gotten past the initial 5 (life and death) “vital needs” we then get into the next stage of “needs”. Let’s call these the “bloody handy” or “non vital needs”.
These “non vital needs” include:
6) Shelter – be it a basic shack or a fancy mansion, they’re all things under the shelter banner. They protect us from the elements and provide a “home” of sorts.
7) Relationships – be they friendships or romantic relationships I think you’ll agree we all want these. Hopefully you’d agree that if you had to spend 10yrs on a desert island and you had the 5 vital things covered but you could take ONE thing with you, you’d take some company!
8) Securtiy – be it not having to worry every second of every day that you’re going to get eaten or being secure knowing where you’re next meal is coming from. Security is more a mental thing but it’s handy to stop us going crazy.
There are more/different things on Tony’s and Maslow’s lists but these are my 8 “needs”. Anything else I would argue you COULD consider not just “non vital” but even as “luxury”.
Exmaples?? Well, seeing as you asked…..!
Let’s take something basic that a lot of us take for granted….. The humble, yet comfy, Bed….. luxury! I’ve traveled to other countries and seen plenty of people without a bed and they’re perfectly happy/healthy. Of course beds are nice. They’re my favourite place to have sex (there and the sofa). But do we REALLY “need” one? Nope!
T.V’s …. oh my days what a luxury they are! Don’t get me wrong… I have one. I watch T.V. I love to watch certain shows and they do indeed bring a great deal of happiness into my life. But is a T.V neccessary to live? Hell no!
Cars …. Luxury. They’re great. Practical. Fun. Can show off status and can be damn right sexy (or as sexy and an inanimate object can be). But are they a necessity? No. We got around just fine for thousands of years without them and we survived. I agree they’re a great creation. But think, how many of us have suffered becuase of them? How many times have you got mad/stressed/been dying for the loo in a traffic jam? Or how about when someone cuts you up/does something stupid on the road? Or, heaven forbid, you or a loved one has even been injured in a accident? Just think, no car…. no such angst!
Phones ….. excuse my French but, fuck me, phones are SO unneccessary! The idea of being able to make a phone call, speak to someone who’s not right there next to you, great! The idea of being able to buzz a quick message to someone who’s half way round the world… awesome! But I mean, do we really “need” all the shit that we can get on our smart phones nowadays?! No, no, no, no and NO! Make it stop! (having said that I do have some really handy apps!)
Sorry, I’m ranting a bit now. I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. Everyday items we all deem as necessary, really…..AREN’T. There are actually MANY things in life that aren’t necessary. So many things we THINK we need but, in reality, don’t. Advertisers tell us we “need” their latest product. It seems every bastard and their nan are trying to sell us crap we “need” nowadays. But the trouble is people, WE’RE BUYING IT!!! 😮
I don’t want to sound preachy. I don’t want to tell you what you can and can’t have. I’m not telling you to give away all your worldly possessions and go live in a monastery. I’m not even saying don’t have nice stuff.
What I AM asking of you is that you THINK about what it is you ACTUALLY need and maybe cut back a little. Don’t have excess. Don’t have things for the sake of having them. And certainly don’t put “wants” ahead of “needs”.
If you have or know someone who has kids and you/they have Sky T.V, a fancy mobile phone, new clothes each month. If you/they drink (alcohol) regularly, smoke or play the lottery in the hope of one day hitting the jackpot but you’re/they’re unable to provide the children with somewhere safe to live, food and water on the table, a warm place to sleep at night and the security of knowing that nothing bad will happen if they let their guard down then I’d argue you/they “NEED” to really think hard about “needs”!! Even if you don’t have kids but it’s for the sake of yourself. There are people on minimum or a low wage say they “can’t survive” on it…. chances are they need to look at their “needs” vs their “wants. (I’m actually doing a whole post about how to not only survive but thrive on minimum wage too.)
So, good people, reflect on what you “want” and what you “need” and maybe have a good re-think. I guarantee, if you do you’ll be better off for it.
All we REALLY need to have a great life are three major things…. Health, Wealth & Happiness!
(d’ya see what I did there?! Huh, did ya?! I wrapped this bastard up in a nice little bow!)