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Needs are often subjective, even if we don’t recognize that

How much pain could be forgotten if we remembered that many of our needs are subjective?

They’re not all subjective, of course… if you take something from the base of Maslow’s pyramid from a person, that person will logically and realistically suffer. Air, food, water, shelter… all critical to human survival.

But love? Self-esteem? The iPhone X? Companionship? All desirable, no doubt… but subjective needs. If I want an iPhone and don’t have one, I have options:

  • Endure (because the need’s not real; it’s a desire, instead)
  • Complain
  • Act…
    • Improperly (steal one somehow, or lash out until my desire is fulfilled)
    • Properly (buy one, choosing the iPhone over other things I might use the money for)

To be clear, an iPhone is a made-up desire for me; I have an Android phone and I’m satisfied with it. Even if I wasn’t satisfied with my phone, I wouldn’t find an iPhone to be a compelling investment; a cheaper phone would do everything I needed.

But you can say the same thing about most desires: they’re subjective. They’re not concrete things to satisfy… and they’re easily replaced. Get an iPhone today, and tomorrow that desire might be for a virtual reality rig instead, with similar intensity.

It’s easy to get confused, to say that your needs (or my needs) are needs and not desires, are concrete and not subjective… and when they go unfulfilled, we get angry, and angry people are stupid people.

What needs do you have? What needs do you have that don’t actually affect your survival from day to day?

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