16 June 2015

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect - Meconomics

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

In the previous post we started looking at why and how it is that we can experience certain wants as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’, where we looked at the role of expectations:

“Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not really part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’.”

There’s many things we feel we are lacking, not on a physical level, but on a… let’s call it ‘beingness-level’ – be it acceptance, freedom, passion, intimacy, happiness, etc. Those are things we cannot buy and that we cannot even get from something or someone else – they cannot be ‘acquired’ or ‘given to us’. They are things we have to give to ourselves and that we inherently feel ‘should already be part of ourselves’. So, when we feel we are lacking them, it’s like we’re not complete as a being, as a person. If you add to that a shiny new smartphone that you wrongfully believe will give you, for instance, ‘acceptance’ – you have the perfect recipe for a very strong urge and desire to go out and get that smartphone.

Most of the time we take our desires for granted – “I feel I want it, therefore I want it”, lol – when actually, it’s not, for instance, the smartphone you really want, but the smartphone is representing ‘acceptance’ to you. So – on a conscious level, all you’ll feel and be aware of, is a strong urge to get that smartphone, where you probably don’t really understand why the urge is so strong and maybe you will give yourself reasons by summing up the specs and telling yourself how good of a phone it is, but the underlying reason is missed. You might even try to tell yourself you don’t need the smartphone, and give yourself all the rational reasons why you should and can wait – but damn, that urge is still there – it just doesn’t go away – and what’s more, it’s building!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when positive energetic experiences, like desire, are very strong and keep building and are not ‘moving out’ – it can become quite uncomfortable. There are sayings like ‘I love you so much it hurts’ – well it’s kind of like that. No matter if the original experience was ‘positive’ – like desire or love – if it just keeps building inside you and you don’t know how to give it direction – it becomes uncomfortable, sometimes even feels like emotional ‘torture’. And it’s there that the want will start feeling like a need – because pain and discomfort is how needs make themselves known.

In the end – the reason why we can mistake a want for a need is because we’re not really aware of ourselves and we accept any impulse or experience at face value. Somehow we don’t know or forget that we actually have the ability to look at a want and go: okay, what are my expectations here? Are they realistic? If they are not realistic, we can look at what it is we expect to ‘gain’ from our purchase (say freedom, acceptance, etc) that we should actually be giving to ourselves – then how do I give that to myself? How do I create that in my life? Once you see how this works, and start applying this reasoning – you’ll see you can direct your wants and your inner experiences quite easily. So long as you ‘remain in the dark’, you’re powerless and at the mercy of what your experiences dictate and you can become quite a dysfunctional human being. Take the example of addictions, what are they but an extreme form of the confusion between wants and needs?

I started this series to investigate the cornerstone of economic theory: the economic problem of satisfying ‘unlimited wants and needs’ in a world with limited resources. To determine whose wants and needs will be satisfied, purchasing power is used as the criterion. I zoomed in on the fact that ‘wants and needs’ are treated as one concept with the same characteristics, when actually needs are limited and so we could at least start with satisfying everyone’s needs and then afterwards design a system that determines whose wants will be satisfied. Since the concepts ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are used in such a sloppy way in economic theory, I wondered if the same is true on a personal level – applying the principle ‘as above, so below’.

So what is the conclusion? Lol – I think it’s clear those two little words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ can create quite a bit of havoc in our personal life if the distinction isn’t clear and we don’t look further than the tip of our nose. It’s no wonder we have failed to eradicate poverty so far. And yet, maybe that is all that is required – or at least it is a start – to clearly define the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ for yourself and begin to approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in your own life. It is one way to start taking responsibility for the ineptitude with which we’ve been attempting to confront global economic problems. If we can address wants and needs effectively in our own life, then we can do the same on a large scale – first making sure everyone’s needs are met and then we can start looking at how to satisfy desires.

A political and economic proposal was designed with this purpose in mind – the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal by the Equal Life Foundation. Please share and create awareness on this proposal, because it simply is not acceptable that millions suffer just because two words are not clearly defined in our dictionary.


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