I want the new *item* so much, I need it. I want to see a movie so much, I need to. In our everyday conversations, we often exaggerate our desires with the word “need,” but sometimes we forget that it is in fact an exaggeration and not the truth. When that happens, when you lose sight of the difference between what you need, and what you only want, you create a warped reality that may cause depression, or at least keep you from thinking clearly.
What is an actual need? It is something without which you cannot live. You need food and water. Shelter, is a want–you can survive without it, but we all would prefer to have it. Money, power, , these are all wants: your life may be different with them, but without them, you will still live.
I bring this up because it interfered with both my decision making, and my mental health (happiness). I have many interests, and I had been feeling extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the activities I was involved in, and all the trade-off decisions that I kept making to try and fit everything in, because I felt like I needed to fit in as much as possible. Once I took a step back and realized that these were all hobbies and not critical to my life, I no longer stressed over the activities because if I fail at something I just want, it’s OK: I’ll live. By knowing what activities are actually necessary, like my job, I can feel more secure in my free time knowing I have all my needs taken care of. I can allow myself to be happy about doing things I want, instead of being stressed at all the things that I want to do but aren’t able to.
Other examples include sacrificing sleep for time for any reason. Eventually, we all realize the truth that we need sleep. We can reduce sleep, sure, but only up to a point: past that point and we begin threatening our well-being with the effects of sleep deprivation. One dangerous result of sleep deprivation and insomnia is depression. In fact, what I’ve found is that the best cure for a bad day is a good night’s sleep.