Wants Versus Needs

forest trees adventure tent
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I could at this point refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which essentially summarises all that I should ramble on about, however I am no intellect and frankly I still don’t understand quite what he means about ‘self-actualisation’… so in my Katie and rather simple way, this is how I translate it.

To need means it is necessary, in order to live safely and healthily, to want however, is about making life even more comfortable and pleasant. Done. Tick. End of post? Not quite …

Last night I had a trial run in my little one-man tent in the garden, (so less than twenty yards from the kettle, a warm, dry bed and a hot bath – therefore not exactly a life or death scenario). But a good exercise in realising that a flimsy nighty and a water bottle with a leaky lid and a propensity for falling over needed some further consideration.

The main problem however was my roll mat which I had bought for my son many moons ago when he was doing a camping expedition on Dartmoor. (Think, bleak, wet and windy). I could pretend that it was so many years ago that therefore material technology was not advanced and back then all mats were three millimetres thick (or thin …). The truth of the matter however is that a) I was utterly clueless as I’d never been camping myself, and b) I was far too mean to buy a decent thick one. He never complained however, and it was returned a little flatter still and somewhat muddier.

Nevertheless, yours truly, still being rather mean, thought that this would be perfectly sufficient for myself and therefore used it last night. I didn’t need a new one despite perhaps wanting one.

Now, our lawn here in London is perfectly level, the grass perhaps a little crunchy from the heatwave but sadly though, through this pretty, pale blue, three millimetre thick length of foam otherwise called a roll mat, I felt every blade of grass, tiny stone and uneven morsel of soil. I felt like the Princess and the Pea if any of you remember reading it … although less of the princess and more of the middle-class, middle-aged woman with clearly rather bony hips.

Eventually of course I managed to get to sleep … inevitably it happens in time and to be honest, there was absolutely not a cats in hells chance I was going to creep into the house and quietly slip into my soft, warm bed with husband dearest … or even onto the sofa and then disappear back outside before anyone awoke (obviously this had been considered).

So no, I endured it, even folded the roll mat it in half so as to make it six millimetres thick, for the top of my body at least, no mean feat doing this when tightly encased in a sleeping bag like a moth pupa and the ceiling of the tent does not enable one to sit upright … yes, a hot, sweaty moth pupa in a flimsy nighty. Nice. The result … foam mattress is now deformed with a small tear along one edge and the flimsy nighty strap has snapped off.

Now of course I could make do and mend, because I don’t need to replace either, but let’s face it, this camping lark is supposed to be enjoyable therefore I want to go and buy myself at least a couple of creature comforts.

I awoke as dawn was just breaking and the birds which normally are muffled by the constant drone of the traffic and aeroplanes were busy and chattering, the air was cool and I was in a complete state of happiness. Fancy waking up with a smile on one’s face! Extraordinary behaviour!

Creeping in to make tea for myself and The Colonel, there was a crashing down the stairs and he appeared in the doorway wearing nothing but a huge grin on his face. “You’re back! Hurray! Come to bed!” he demanded. (Simple sentences for such an early start and he does sometimes forget that I am not a solider to be ordered about, but instead his lovely wife.) I grinned back, and then muttered about the dodgy roll mat. “Oh!” he said, “I’ve got one on order for you. All sorted.” Ahhh my lovely, gorgeous, caring husband.

“Think you might need to rethink the nighty though.” he smiled widely. And with that, he turned and bounded back up the stairs with me trailing behind with two cups of tea, grassy feet, a muddy bottom and a nighty being held up by one thin strap of silk.

Happy? Oh yes!

Katie xx

Do you find that like me you try to persuade yourself that you need something whereas actually you only want it?

What do you want?

28 thoughts on “Wants Versus Needs”

  1. Needs and wants are funny things, aren’t they? Since I got sober I have probably spent much more time thinking about it by way of trying to identify when my behaviour is driven by the wrong impulses. Alcohol aside, I am terrible with the wants and often find myself ABSOLUTELY HAVING TO HAVE this, that, the other, be it that ridiculously expensive pair of jeans or something else that in fact has no bearing whatsoever on how I feel inside. How I fall for the illusions we’re bombarded with constantly from birth – what this perfume will do for you, this handbag, this mascara, this car. It’s nonsense, isn’t it? And yes, I find a million ways to try to convert those wants into needs. I think we’re so much happier when we recognise the difference and even if we don’t succeed all the time, awareness of whether it’s a need or a want we’re trying to fulfill I think is a very healthy thing.

    Hope the new roll mat is more comfortable. I’m so in awe of you – I wouldn’t even be brave enough to camp out in our garden if I were alone!!!!

    Anna xx

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    1. Thank you!! And you know what, you’ve absolutely nailed it … far better than me! The thing is that everything is available to our generation. At a price and sometimes not immediately … We could practically furnish an entire house and get a car on hire purchase or 0% credit. We see what others have, and we want it too. And yet our parents, as in those from the war generation (I’m older than you!!) were very much of the make do and mend mentality, and they were able to ‘put up with things’ even though it might have meant a bit of a struggle. It’s a bit like when I first was diagnosed with depression, I figured that a packet of pills would do the trick. What I didn’t realise was that I had to struggle with the fight, do some things I didn’t want to do, like force myself to get out and exercise and drop the booze in order to get better. And as for handbags ….! I was convinced that a new handbag would make everything ok in my world! Thanks so much for reading and helping me by giving your experiences … it makes all the difference and is much appreciated. Katie x. Ps. I do think however that a new handbag is a boost to any woman!! X

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  2. I think there are needs in an absolute sense and then needs in order to have the experience you want. No one needs at least 2 foamies plus a little camping pillow in order to camp, but if I want to sleep while doing said camping, those things are necessities.

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  3. The benefit of such an overspending generation is that many fabulous products exist out there, like a very comfortable camping mat that still rolls.
    My husband and I did a trial camping run last year and I somehow determined that some REALLY thick pads from Costco were an immediate need after barely sleeping a wink. An exhaustive need for comfort is a powerful motivator.

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  4. I think my bigger struggle lately is whether or not I should spend the money on myself for “want” things (and, honestly, sometimes even “need” things). But, I’m making progress (she says as she types on a new laptop). 🙂

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    1. Ha! Hope the new laptop is good!! It’s hard isn’t it … I certainly go through phases of being really almost too careful with money as I worry. It’s I suppose all relative to what our income is and keeping a fine balance. I always leave enough money for ginger nuts though … can’t be without my favourite biscuits! Thanks so much for your input – I love it! Katie x

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  5. I would totally justify a new roll mat as I’m sure that ‘sleep’ is high up on Maslow’s hierarchy? Yes! Just checked. Foundation level. Essential therefore.

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    1. Yes, I’m sure you’re right … the roll mat is on the foundation level! I wonder if Clinique’s ‘Take The Day Off’ Cleansing Balm is on there too, and their beautiful little soaps? Oh yes, definitely. Excellent. Along with ginger nuts … fabulous. All sorted then!

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    1. You never fail to surprise me. To clarify, I am NOT fishing for compliments, so don’t give me any. But, the reason for my surprise is this …. To use extremes to make the point, it is rather like Shakespeare enjoying a bit of Catherine Alliott (you certainly won’t have read any of her books, but just think Bridget Jones and you’re on the right track). I LOVE the fact that you enjoy my ramblings, it makes me awfully happy. So thank you, my intelligent, highbrow friend. You make me 🙂

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  6. Shucks. Now I’m embarrassed. You are far more talented than you give yourself credit for Katie. Your writing reminds me so much of Bryony Gordon, one of my current favourites. I’m convinced your French adventure is the basis for a brilliant memoir if you put your mind to it.

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    1. I’ve just watched her on a couple of video things … I like her enormously! And yes, I can understand why you see a lot of similarities. She is however considerably talented (and, as an aside, has the most fabulous pair of knockers! I’m extremely jealous 😃) so I have plenty of work to do to reach her dizzy heights of ability. I know you told me a while ago to start writing, and I have taken your advice … I have. And scarily, confessed it this morning to my little following of lovely readers. Thank you for the kick up the bottom. It worked. X

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  7. I used to be a shopaholic. Then I spent years almost as a miser. Again extremes. Now I buy what in need after making do and then accessing that somethings in life need to be more efficiently done.
    I work hard. The wants are often a reward for making progress. Some wants are really needs but I have waited a long time with patience and saved.
    Sometimes wants are more than ok. If they have a purpose and that can be simply making you very happy and this leads to you achieving more in other aspects of your life, then money well spent.
    I don’t need a kebab on Wednesday but it sure helps the long day sorting our septic tank out, go more smoothly.

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    1. I think we have many similarities as regards the extremes. I am certainly very careful with money now having previously had a lot and then a divorce meaning that I had to cut my cloth, work two jobs whilst bringing up the children. It rather put things into perspective and made me get a grip on myself. My husband seems to have a good balance. He is very careful about day to day living, lots of turning off lights whilst I’m actually still in the room more often than not, and keeping a tight budget on food shopping which I like a lot, however, if it’s a bigger purchase, for example a decent jumper he will buy something of really good quality from a nice shop … and most of his jumpers last about twenty years because of this. It works for us pretty well, as long as he turns on the heating when it’s snowing, otherwise we might come to blows!

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      1. We are the same. My husband spent time in Japan and liked their work ethic, purchasing attitudes and understanding about respect for yourself. I like things to last too. My car is now 18 years old on 179k miles. I am restoring a lot of second hand furniture, but with top notch fabrics I bought when I worked with a designer in London and bought at huge discount.

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      2. Lovely! Fabrics and lovely old furniture make homes wonderful. I went to a military wives coffee morning yesterday (don’t laugh!) and the flat was not awfully nice, but she had decorated it beautifully so the feeling of walking in was stunningly splendid. It was quite something. Restoring furniture sounds very therapeutic and satisfying.

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      3. I love it. Especially when the furniture is free or just silly cheap and you turn it into something with value. I have my grandfathers old 1920’s chair. It needs a big overhaul but last year in Laura Ashley they had as good as the same chair but in their fabric for sale at just over £800! We are off to brocant soon to rummage.

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      4. Wow! That’s wonderful …. a sense of complete satisfaction in the knowledge that you have created something just as beautiful for a fraction of the price and it’s got a history all of its own. Perfect.

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