Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Need v. Want
Dear Joseph,

As you get older you will come to realize that there are confusing words that people use. Many of these are important to understand, such as the difference between need and want.

To help you remember, just think that need starts with the letter "n" and so does necessary. The things that are necessary to keep us alive and safe are the things we need. So, you need air to breath, food to eat and shelter from the weather. Sometimes you will need medicine to get over some illness, and so on. In a way, you need some toys to stimulate your mind and help teach you things. Beyond that, there will be things you will want.

You will want something, like a toy or fancy bike, that your friends have. You may want a bigger TV like you see at someone else's house. You may want the latest in cloths that all your friends are wearing or to go to expensive places as they do. That's pretty normal, and you need to remember that they are all wants. If you don't get them you may feel disappointed, but you will not die from it. Let's see if I can give you an idea on how to handle the disappointment when you don't get what you want.

When I want something and I don't get it, I sit with myself and ask the question, what do I really need that makes me want to have that thing. Seems like a funny question, doesn't it? But think about it.

Say you want the cool new bike all the kids are riding, and mom and dad say no to your request. You are disappointed. But what was the need behind the want? Think about it, Joseph, because as you come to understand this you will also become your own person. And don't worry if you don't get it at first, you will as you mature. But back to the question.

You want the bike, but (more likely than not) you need to feel like you were just like the other kids. You need to feel like you fit in. Make sense? You get the same bike the others have and it is like you are all wearing the same uniform that says we belong in the group. And that would make you feel good. What you will realize as you get older is that dressing the "right" way and having the right things does not make you a part of anything except a society that wants everything it sees.

What will make you be yourself are your thoughts, your ethics (we can talk about what this means another time) and how you behave, especially when the going gets tough. You will, during your life, want many many things, and you will be able to have some of them. What you will always need, however, is to know yourself and to be true to yourself. That's how we fulfill our deepest needs.

I love you,

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