What you WANT is not what you NEED.

It seems like a simple explanation on the surface. But we have a genuine problem understanding it. We have so much abundance that we ignore what our needs are compared to our wants. We just assume that anything that adds to our quality of life must be a necessity, whereas anything that simply feels nice with no lasting improvement to our quality of life or, indeed, with a lowering of our overall quality of life, must be a want.

But the reality is a touch simpler than that. Just a touch.

These are the things we need:

  1. Air to breathe.
  2. 1-2L of water a day.
  3. Enough calories and micronutrients to keep us moving every day.
  4. Somewhere to excrete.
  5. 5-12 hours of sleep.
  6. Shelter from the elements.
  7. Warm human contact.
  8. Safety and freedom from danger.
  9. Relief from stress, sexual tension and mental troubles.

That’s it. That is all you actually need. If you lived in a strong, moderate temperature cube with a toilet on the side, which daily gave you fresh air, two litres of water, one and a half thousand calories (assuming little to no activity) and a vitamin and mineral mix, where you could sleep as much as you like, call in a carer to cuddle you once a day and stretch, masturbate and play make believe, you would live just as long, if not longer, and your body would be just as well off, if not better, than you are today.

Literally everything we add on top of that is something we want. And our wants fall into three categories.

Things we almost need. Things that improve us on a measurable level but do not make the cut for bare basics. We can live just as long without them, if not well.

  1. Daily exercise.
  2. Sunshine.
  3. A circadian life.
  4. Massages.
  5. Variety of foods.
  6. Reproduction.
  7. Creative outlets.
  8. A soft place to rest and relax.
  9. Freedom of peaceful speech and interaction.

Things that are pushed upon us. Things that other people have and that we covet, or that we need in order to integrate with others. We could live without them in another culture.

  1. Wealth.
  2. Admiration, respect, status.
  3. Symbols of status and belonging.
  4. Gadgets and technological advances.
  5. Knowledge.
  6. Faith.
  7. Formalized relationships.

Things that instinctively we desire. Things that we want based on an instinctive impulse that is no longer applicable to the world we live in. In a modern world indulging these wants is detrimental.

  1. Excess of food.
  2. Freedom to complete idleness.
  3. Promiscuity.
  4. Freedom to be violent and retaliate.
  5. Freedom to seize.

All of those things, to someone in our society, could be seen as necessities, as things they have a right to. Everyone has something in those three lists that they would fight tooth and claw for. Some have even been acknowledged as universal human rights, rights that separate us from the animals.

But regardless of where you place them and value them, it is important to acknowledge that you need none of them. All you really need is the basic nine. Everything else is a luxury.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

What Crafting Does To And For You.

Arts and crafts are something most of us appreciate. We love seeing the results of great talent and skill. We also love engaging in crafting activities when we can. But crafting is a little like reading. Despite knowing that most of the happiest, wisest, healthiest people in the world craft, most people seem to avoid it.

It’s quite peculiar how we do this, because, however you look at it, crafting is innately human. From our earliest days, even if toys and paints aren’t available, we take mud and sand and sticks and stones and mash things together to make murals, sculptures and decorations. We are drawn to paint and stickers and glue. We make shiny, bright, ornamented versions of everyday items. In short, we are born with a desire to create. Which makes a lot of sense, really. A human is born a naked ape-grub without any sharp teeth or fangs, without the ability to even stand. We grow into gangly, nude primates that are slow, clumsy and weak compared to most of our would-be predators and prey. So crafting is one of our ways of surviving. By tinkering about with everything we are able to make houses, fire, weapons, traps, cooking utensils and preservation techniques. Crafting made the arrow, the tree-house, the fire pit and fermentation. It’s an instinctive drive.

And another unique trait of humans is that we use this tinkering to develop culture. At some point a good, strong arrowhead that felled five bison stops just being a good arrowhead and starts being a lucky arrowhead. At some point Mum’s copper pot stops being a cooking utensil and becomes an heirloom. The more we tinker, the more we develop, the more meaning we attach to things, until we start making this for meaning’s own sake. We find blue peaceful, so we seek out blue pigments. We like the little figures on Uncle’s bow, so we make our own figurines. We go from utilitarian, to utilitarian and meaningful, to purely meaningful.

And gradually these meanings form a culture. If women of a certain tribe wear neck-braces in solidarity with women who need them, women in the next tribe will be confused, because they will either not need braces or view them as simple medical treatment. If hunters of a certain tribe paint themselves blue to connect with the Gods, hunters from another tribe may see the blue as aggression or even aspiration to godhood. By creating a sort of secret language of meaning, we exclude others from out culture and make it ours. We gain solidarity.

Which is where we start losing our desire to craft in the modern world. We live in a world where we no longer need to craft or be inventive. Not only are we avid, hungry consumers, we seem to be trying to become culturally stagnant, merely observing past culture and global cultures and not engaging in any cultural or tribal behaviours of our own.

But crafting is still good for us. The pull is still there, even when you sit down a sixty year old office worker with finger paints. How many people do you know who would never doodle, paint, sculpt, write, sing, dance, build, shape, collage, etc if they could? If you sat a group of adults down in an arts and crafts room and told them to entertain themselves, how many would find nothing to do? We still love it and want to do it. It’s only natural to us.

Crafting is still one of the best ways of dealing with mental and personality disorders, as well as with non-clinical stress, depression, anxiety, fear or boredom. It evens us out and leaves us feeling soothed and satisfied by the end. And to boot, it shows its own fruits. When you work crunching numbers, or teaching a lesson a week, or cleaning machinery, it’s hard to see your own work in the finished product. But when you take your vision and slowly shape it into something, you are present in the end result. And that reward is one of the richest you can experience.

Humans really are meant to craft and create. And we should put more effort into doing some crafting daily.

What do you enjoy crafting? Do you craft as much as you would like? Are there any crafts you would like to learn?

Check out my Pinterest board of things to craft or that I have crafted.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

5 Ways To Be More Independent.

We would all like to be more independent. After all, we live in a world where self-deification is the norm and pride, envy and greed are all justified, as you clearly deserve everything you want.

So whether you’re one of those people who feels worthy of everything they want or need or just someone who wants to avoid relying on those people, we all want to be more independent from others. This isn’t a safe world in which to be completely dependent, after all.

So what are the ways in which we can limit our dependence on others? Here are my top five.

1.- Self Awareness.

Self awareness is the very baseline. It is a raw, amoral, unemotional, rational analysis of who and what you are. Ask yourself these questions and answer as honestly as you can.

Who am I?

What defines me?

What do I add to others lives?

What do I get from others?

What is my purpose in life?

Who chose that purpose?

Am I fulfilling that purpose?

What are my flaws?

What are my shortcomings?

What holds me back?

What are my advantages?

Am I making use of them?

What are my goals?

Are they realistic?

Do they align with my purpose?

What am I doing with my life?

Am I making good use of my time?

How much do I have left?

What are my motivations?What is my priority?What matters most?

Are any of these questions making me uncomfortable? Why?

Did I answer any of these questions dishonestly? Why? What is the real answer?

Go through them again and again until you start to get a feel for who you really are. Face every side of yourself, especially the aspects you don’t like. The less you like them, the more you need to observe them. The parts of you that you least like are the ones you need to be the most aware of.

2.- Self Actualization.

Abraham Maslow defined self actualization as “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially.” In other words, it is the desire to become the very best you can be, combined with a striving to become that best.

You cannot be independent without self actualizing. It is the next step from Self Awareness. Once you know who you are, you become aware of your potential. You might not know for sure how well you can do, but you will have an idea. Now you need to hunger for it.

You need to feel that compelling urge, that burning desire to reach the pinnacle of what you can be, to be the best.

Whatever you want out of life, whatever your purpose is, whatever you’re headed towards, you need to strive for it and strive to do the very best you can do.

3.- Self Sufficiency.

Part of becoming the very best you can be is cutting unnecessary dependence. And the biggest form of dependence is when you depend on others for your basic needs.

Of course, you can never actually eliminate the need for others unless you also eliminate others. If you want food, someone has to grow it, pick it and transport it. If you forage wild food you depend on there being wild plants, on having the ability to access them, on being protected from others who might interfere with your ability to forage. In short, as long as there are people, you will need people, even if it’s just to stop the other people from becoming a nuisance to you.

However there are many ways you can maximize your self sufficiency and ensure that you aren’t relying too much on individuals or organizations for support.

Look at where your money, your food, your shelter come from. These are the bare basics. The very first step is to ensure that your food and shelter come from your own money, not someone else’s. If your food and shelter come from your money, consider where your money comes from. Think of how you could use less money to have the same food and shelter. Consider whether it is preferable to work for someone else and get a stable paycheck but rely on your employer for work, or to work for yourself, rely only on yourself and your customers for work but risk earning less.

Some common forms of becoming more self sufficient are gardening, learning basic skills such as woodwork, plumbing or cleaning, installing a renewable energy source and walking or cycling rather than driving.

4.- Self Care.

The other side to reducing dependence is to reduce the need for less essential things. Other people provide company, affection, validation, stimulation. And it’s only natural to need and want these things. But we don’t want to rely on their continual supply. Needing someone else to validate you daily is as much a form of dependence as needing them to feed you is.

Instead, cultivate a form of self love through self care. This should be easier when you are self aware, self actualizing and largely self sufficient. You know who you are, where you are headed, what you want and you don’t desperately need anyone to get you there. This means you already have important, internal sources of validation: your skills, your identity, your goals.

But you need to also spend some time caring for yourself to cultivate this self love. Spending time alone if good for you. Even if it takes some effort at first, try and enjoy your own company. Make your own entertainment. Find books, films, games or hobbies that intellectually and emotionally stimulate you. Consider important questions and matters and reflect on them on your own. Play Devil’s Advocate against yourself.

Show yourself some tenderness. Afford yourself treats, relaxation time, idle hobbies and guilty pleasures.

Basically, learn to live on your own, to live with yourself. You don’t have to do it all the time. But it needs to be an option. You need to be able to be left on your own without pining.

5.- Self Integration.

Finally, I have been continually mentioning that you actually do need others for a lot of these things. You rely on either an employer or clients if not both for your income. You rely on gun manufacturers, law enforcement or other measures for your safety. If you plan on reading to liven your mind, you are relying on the writer, the publisher, the source of the book. You can never cut yourself off from humanity.

So the last crucial step to independence is to integrate yourself well into society. You will always need people. So try and only rely on people worth relying on. Rely on select people minimally and let them rely on you minimally. Establish clear boundaries in your relationships as to how far dependence can go. You want to be an active member of society. But you want to be a self aware, self actualized, self sufficient, self caring one too.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Do you view yourself as independent? What do you find yourself relying on too much? Do you find you’re at the other end of the spectrum and too detached from people? What parts of the self awareness questions did you find hardest? What parts of yourself are you fighting to reconcile with? If you feel comfortable doing so, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.