Just a little thought today. I received a little mail in my inbox today from a colleague who always sends out nice inspirational messages when she receives them from a friend. Today’s one said that one of the secrets to happiness is learning to figure out your needs from the wants. It made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share this.

For most people, the issue comes when they want a lot more than they need. So makes sense, when you finally figure out that you don’t actually need a lot, you’ll be a lot happier, you know, without all that “other stuff”.

For me, it’s the complete opposite. My husband hates it how every time he asks me “Do you want this?” – and it could be referring to everything from the last sip of drink in a cup to a pair of dazzling earrings I’m staring at outside a jewelry shop – almost always, my answer would be, “Nah, I don’t need it.”

It infuriates him to no end. Which, I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand. Why isn’t it good that I don’t need anything? Doesn’t that make me a superbly low-maintenance wife? I don’t stress my husband out needing to be placated with sparkly baubles or branded tissue paper carriers. That’s good, right?

Turns out, it’s pretty selfish of me, actually. You have to think about it this way: Having a wife who does not actually need anything means he’s not able to give me something he knows I will like or enjoy. In other words, I’m pretty much denying him any opportunity to make me happy.

Without knowing what somebody likes, wants, needs, how do you ever give anything, surprise them, offer to do something for them etc. And without actions, how do you show love? At the end of the day, the more I said, “No thanks, I don’t need it,” he was running out of more and more ways to show me just how much he loves me.

Nowadays the same thing happens – “Do you want this?” – “Nah, I don’t need it.” – “I know you don’t need it. But do you want it?” And then I’m forced to look inwardly into the deep dark caves of my being, where my most selfish innermost desires lay, and ask myself, “DO I WANT it? Would it make me happy (to slurp up that last sip of drink, or whatever)?”

It’s a lot of introspection and self-querying on my part. I have to come to understand myself a whole lot better. And it’s an ongoing process, for sure. Sometimes when I’m eating certain foods I’ve always eaten before, now I feel like a robot trying it for the very first time and sorting them into categories, like “When he asks, say YES!!” and “When he asks, say NO I don’t WANT it.”

I realize for many people who’ve always been able to get the things they want and have their way all their lives, this comes easy to them. They know exactly what they want and they go for it. For me, it’s always been more of a case of, since you know you’ll never be able to afford the stuff you really do want, you learn to acquire a more “affordable” taste, you know what I mean?

Like I’m pretty sure if you showed me any two things, and asked me which one I wanted, and I pointed at the one I thought was prettier, but upon reveal of the price, learnt the other (uglier) one was wayyyyyy cheaper, the uglier bag would actually grow to become more attractive to me. Yes, it’s actually true, for me at least. My brain actually self-compensates in this way.

Along the same vein, if there’s something wonderful I love, but I know there are others who don’t have it, I instinctively love it less so that I’m more inclined to share it with others and not keep it for myself. Again, completely true story.

I’m sure there are psychological theories on these. I call it “Survival” and “Being nice”. But over the years, they’ve become inbuilt mechanisms, and now I face the difficult uphill task of unravelling all that programming, and discovering once and for all, what I truly do need and want.

On successful days, he asks me if I want the last piece of brownie and ice cream on the plate, and my eyes light up, and I say “YES!!!!” And we commence to fight over it, of course with me winning, because he lets me. And that’s his little way of showing me he loves me. :)


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