What Is a Need?

A need is a fundamental requirement that people or groups must satisfy in order to achieve certain levels of satisfaction, survival or well-being. It may refer to physical, psychological, social or emotional needs and can vary in terms of urgency, intensity, importance or value.

The most widely known academic model of need is that proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943, which consists of a hierarchy of psychological needs. It starts with a person’s basic physiological or lower-order needs, such as food, water and shelter, and goes up to the higher-order needs, such as belonging, esteem and self-actualization. According to this theory, a person will spend most of their time and energy attempting to satisfy these lower-order needs before they can start on the more complex psychological needs.

It’s important to distinguish between what we need and what we want. While a need is something that genuinely requires in order to carry on, such as food or shelter, a want is more like a desire that we would prefer to have. For example, you might say that you ‘need’ a car but that you ‘want’ a new one.

Basically, you should always endeavor to fulfill your need before you fulfill a want. The most important needs are your primary ones – such as food, water and shelter – which should be prioritized over other expenses such as designer clothes or a fancy dinner date.

To determine what needs you have, start by listing your experiences and identifying which of those are essential to your personal well-being. You can do this by brainstorming or using an online list builder. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, you can then start to identify which of those are actually needs and which are wants.

You might find that you have a lot of wants, but not many true needs. This is because most of your wants are likely derived from what you need to function in society. For example, if you need to travel in order to work, then a vacation is a natural want arising from that need.

Similarly, if you need to take medicine to stay healthy, then that’s a necessary need. However, if you don’t need the medicine to do your job, then it’s probably just a want.

In the end, you should strive to have as few needs as possible so that you can focus on what matters most to you and avoid unnecessary stress. You can do this by balancing your needs and desires and by only spending money on things that are actually necessary for you to survive and flourish. You can also consider pursuing your passions to find out what you need most in life. This is how you can create the best version of yourself!