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Don’t know what you want or need? Imagine tragedy.

The phrases ‘I want’ and ‘I need’ have no relation to one another. Saying ‘I want X and need Y…’ altogether in one sentence makes it sound like the two go together like pants and underpants or shoes and socks.

But let’s examine this.

Let’s say you go to an important event –like a job interview or a friend’s wedding– without socks on. Even without socks, as long as you’ve got shoes on, you should be sweet. But go without shoes to the wedding and forget about that friend ever responding to your texts again. Or go to an interview without some on and you’re quickly going to hear ‘I’m sorry, something’s come up. We’ll have to reschedule the interview until never.’

So how do you tell the difference between what you want and need?

One is critically important, the other is flavouring, the sprinkles, the blueberries on top. Yeah it’s nice to have, but if things start to go much worse than they are right now (which they easily can) you’ll find you can’t give any fewer shits about blue-fucking-berries.

It’s all relative. We adjust and twist what we want and what we think we need based on the good fortune of our current financial, professional, educational or romantic situation. It’s all gets distorted if things don’t totally suck right now.

Imagine tragedy and live happier

Picture something terrible or horrific happening to you, your family, closest friends, pets or partner. Like the worst thing you can imagine¹. Messed up shit you heard happened to friends of friends or in Game of Thrones (never seen it but I’ve heard it’s crazy violent). If you picture something bad happening and you still want that new iPhone, well okay. Goddamn. You probably actually do need it. But if you imagine something terrible happening (which easily could) all you’re going to need are the basic human things like the ability to breathe, a place to live, food to eat, water to drink, and people or pets who you give a lot of shits about, And I’m guessing that bullshit ass iPhone isn’t going to matter so much anymore.

I suck at this too

The thing I want the most is to go to Finland. One, for this, and two, to do this. But I know it’s a spoiled person’s luxury and one that I’m positive I can live without (though I suspect I’ll always have a tinge of regret if I don’t¹). But if tomorrow I get plowed by a car going 65km/h because I jaywalked instead of walking to the crossing down the road, or something fucked up happens to my wife, my dog Chunky, my mum, stepdad, brother or close friends, I’m pretty sure some trip to ice skate and play with cartoon characters in Finland isn’t going to matter shit.

Imagining the worst frees you up to be grateful for the best in your life.


¹ By the way, if you think I’m jinxing you and it’s Murphy’s Law that now something bad will definitely happen to you, I’m happy to explain the inane fallacy and total dementedness of Murphy’s dumbass Law.
² If you have any thoughts on regret, let me know. That’s a topic I want³ to dive into in the future.
³ Fucking hypocrite.