Letting Go of Imaginary Needs

Letting Go of Imaginary Needs

Live simply, like a child An infant needs very little to be happy. Clothes, food, love, and a place to explore, that’s it. They have so few needs. And yet, they’re so happy. As these toddlers grow up, their needs multiply faster than the hairs on their head.

But most of these needs are made up

Society creates them to address fears, insecurities, and worries about the future.

Worst of all, these needs are insatiable. We buy more stuff, but don’t come any closer to satisfaction. We invest more of our precious time, but end up further from the destination. We work harder to find happiness, but instead, we carry an enormous burden.

Sadly, most people can’t recognize imaginary needs in their own life. The sheer number and influence of these ‘needs’ makes them appear so real. They weave their way into our sub-conscience and shape the way we see the world.

Take a close, hard look. Have any of these imaginary needs become a part of your life?

  • the need to keep busy
  • the need to be entertained constantly
  • the need to please everyone
  • the need to stay current with news and trends
  • the need to buy gifts for everyone, on every special occasion
  • the need to hoard money and possessions to feel secure
  • the need to be involved in every single activity
  • the need to be productive, always hurrying to the next thing
  • the need to be the center of attention

Letting go isn’t easy, it can be painful, humbling, and even scary. Our habits, both positive and negative, are comforting to us. They provide a source of predictability in a chaotic, confusing world.

But letting go is awesomely liberating. Like a child on the last day of school, you’ll be light as a feather, happy, and free to do whatever excites you. Children aren’t weighed down by pressure to impress, prepare, or perform. They simply live, keeping their needs few and their joys many.

A short, but really useful guide to letting go of imaginary needs:

Simplify your routines. The first thing I do each morning is use the bathroom and then sit on the couch. I pray, think, and do some light reading. After that, I eat breakfast and do yoga on the floor. No email, no blogging, no technology. I don’t have any other needs, just perfect serenity in the morning solitude.

Take a sabbatical. We take vacations from work. Why not take a sabbatical from everyday life? Once  a month, free yourself from all responsibility. Keep your needs few and simple – eat, read and be with people. Do it slowly and mindfully. Be fully present in everything you do, and do only what you love, or what helps others. 

Avoid distractions. Focus is hard to come by in this busy, busy world. We’re distracted by adverts, emails, entertainment, and more. We learn to depend on these distractions to ease the dullness of a job we hate, a family we’ve grown apart from, or a self we resent. Eliminate these distractions one by one and approach these struggles head on.

Be a risk taker. Maybe you struggle with security. You ‘need’ everything under control, especially your finances. So you work compulsively, invest wisely, and save every dime. Take a bold step and give generously to someone in need. Make it unexpected and anonymous. Give until it makes you uncomfortable, it’s the only way to grow.

Fill the void. If you’re used to spending hours surfing the web, you’ll need to find a new way to spend that time, or you’ll be back to the same old habit in no time. Naturally, we reach for the most familiar; the path of least resistance.