by Brie Jongewaard, December 30, 2015

Three root questions hold the keys to unlocking the mystery of balance between scarcity and excess:

  • What do we need?
  • What do we want?
  • What do we desire?

Forging ahead without regard to our uniquely personal set of needs, wants, and desires leads to piles of stuff, bulging closets, fluffy bodies, and emotional overload existing concurrently with no place to sit, nothing to wear, empty stomachs, and longing hearts.

Yearly statistics reveal the most common New Year’s resolutions.

The top vows relate to bodies and budgets, to lose weight/exercise more, and spend less/save more. This study in contrasts reveals the push pull of our annually derived good intentions. Less and more go hand in hand with our vision of a better life. And yet most resolutions go unheeded, broken before the new pattern of behavior becomes routine. We’re mired in a seemingly never-ending cycle of discontent, not liking how we look or the condition of our finances. A sidelong glance in the mirror is as disconcerting as a peek at our bank balance. We dread both stepping on the scale and considering the extent of our debts.

Food and things conspire against us as they become more treacherous to navigate. Hidden ingredient pitfalls, contradictory messages on what to eat and avoid, and increasing prices for reduced content lead to murky consequences. Again more and less play against each other and us to undermine the new beginnings we crave, the new life we want to be better.

Even our higher instincts to help others come into question because we cannot give to all the worthy causes that need active participation. We feel guilty if we ignore the constant pleas for our time and money. And yet we simply cannot accommodate every need. As caring women we don’t want to be viewed as not giving a damn and at the same time if we over extend to help others we leave ourselves with too few resources.

The complicated and often conflicting messages we give ourselves are filled with examples of too much and not enough. We deny and delay our longings by substituting surrogates we’ve labeled healthier or cheaper or somehow more reasonable and affordable. We end up eating too much and enjoying it too little, we buy things that aren’t quite what we want but will “have to do.” We substitute second, third and even lower tiered items in an effort to be responsible or thrifty or that crazily over worked “good”.

All evidence to the contrary we still view and experience things in terms of “good” or “bad”. This long over used concept, lingering from childhood, cripples our ability to make healthy and sustainable choices. And the guilt and embarrassment from choosing a “bad” thing counteracts any possible momentary pleasure it might have offered.

Carelessly applied value judgments serve to bully and belittle. And the voices most often condemning our choices come from our own mouths and minds, repeating the wounding words of others.  All too often we’ve adopted the bossy restrictive attitude that shakes its head and wags its finger declaring we should not have any number of “treats” or we should limit our enjoyment of others.

Given these circumstances, how is it possible to strike a balance between too much and too little? How can we gain or regain our equilibrium in a minefield of old rules and messages, temptations, noises in our head, conflicting advice, the condemnation, criticism, or consideration of others, and the empty unfulfilled dreams within us?

Few people have unlimited resources. We are not unique in having to make choices between options. Sometimes those choices may seem too difficult to contend with, too laborious to sift and sort. Ignored issues create their own resolution and it is often either unpleasant or disappointing.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of life, the root of daily survival. What do we need? Frequently ignored, unattended basic needs wreak havoc on our lives. Needs evolve with age, health, growing or diminishing families, and any number of additional tweaks and circumstances. Often neglected to our peril, they are the foundation of existence. And if not met at least on some rudimentary level, that lack places everything else in jeopardy.  Foremost is simply taking care of ourselves with whatever methods or means necessary. A broken or empty vessel serves no purpose and no one. We need to frequently revisit the foundation of our needs to make certain it’s sound and can carry the required weight of all that follows.

When we have a clear understanding of our needs we can move toward the next important question. What do we want? Longings and cravings arise from not having enough of something. Attempts to fill those voids without determining exactly what is wanted often results in an excess of things that in no way enhance our lives.  Where needs are often universally stated in terms of having a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and the health necessary to survive, wants add the color and texture that uniquely define our journey.

And what do we desire? As a further embellishment, desires speak to our most imaginative and wondrous of notions.  The sparkle and shine of life, they come into existence in the form of incredible journeys, created objects, musical scores, great love affairs, and endless dance.

When needs, wants, and desires important to us remain undefined they float like elusive clouds beyond reach and our choices and decisions often contain near misses and escaped and uncaught dreams; too much of what we don’t like and not enough of what we love.

We need to take this fresh opportunity in a new year to determine where to place our priorities, where to strike a balance, and as a result, how to live with the healthy abundance we seek, require, and deserve.

The choice is ours.