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 Things that we want based on an instinctive impulse that is no longer applicable to the world we live in.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.