What is the meaning of want: The Longing Within

Want is a feeling or a desire to possess and achieve what you don’t have currently. This feeling is associated with longing or yearning for something that may or may not be materialistic. Want is a driving force that keeps humans moving forward in life as it fuels the desire to strive for something better.

This article explores the various meanings of want and analyses its significance in our lives. We will delve deep into the psychology of want and its impact on our emotions, behaviour and decision-making processes.

The Psychology of Want

Want is an essential component of human nature, and it’s a vital factor that motivates us to work hard and strive for success. The psychological basis of want is embedded in our early childhood experiences, where our wants and needs were frequently linked to feelings of security and comfort. As we grow older, these desires become more complex, and we develop a stronger sense of self-awareness and independence.

Research indicates that our desire to want something is closely linked to the reward centres in our brains. The release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and reward, is provoked when we encounter a situation that satisfies our needs or wants. This sensation motivates us to keep seeking rewards and reinforces our desires to want more.

The Impact of Want on Emotions and Behaviour

Want plays a significant role in shaping our emotions and behaviour. If we desire something deeply, our emotions become more challenging to control, and we become more impulsive or irrational. For example, if you’re on a diet, and you see your favourite dessert at a party, your desire to want that sweet treat may override your rational decision to stick to your diet plan.

Furthermore, our wants influence our behaviour in the long term. The pursuit of our desires can lead us to work harder, study longer, and invest significant energy and resources into achieving our goals. In contrast, when we fail to achieve what we want, it can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions.

The Different Types of Want

Want can manifest itself in many different forms, and it’s a universal human experience. Here are some of the most common types of want:

Material Wants

Material wants are the type that most people are familiar with. These are the objects or possessions that people desire, such as a new car, a bigger house, or a trendy gadget. The culture of consumerism we live in has created a lasting impact on human wants, making it difficult for individuals to be content with what they have, as there is always something more that they desire.

Psychological Wants

Psychological wants are related to our emotions and feelings. They can be complicated to understand and to fulfil, and they include things like the desire to feel loved, accepted, and appreciated. People often seek approval and validation from others to fulfil their psychological wants.

Spiritual Wants

Spiritual wants are often the most profound and meaningful desires that people have. They relate to a sense of higher purpose or connection to something greater than oneself. People who seek spiritual fulfilment often desire to understand the meaning of life, explore the mysteries of the universe or find inner peace and harmony.


Want is an integral part of human nature, and it has a significant impact on our lives. Understanding our desires, motivations and the various forms of want can help us to live more fulfilled and happier lives.


  • What is the difference between a want and a need?

    A need is a basic requirement for survival, such as food, water, and shelter, while a want is a desire for something that is not essential to our survival, like a luxury car or a holiday trip.

  • How do our wants affect our decision-making processes?

    Our wants can influence our decision-making processes by making us more emotionally charged and less rational. For example, if we desire something strongly, we may be willing to take risks, invest significant resources or ignore reasoning to achieve our goals.

  • Can you control your wants?

    Yes, to some extent, you can control your wants by being mindful of your desires, setting realistic goals, and prioritizing your needs over your wants. It’s also useful to understand the impact of materialistic wants on your mental health and try to limit your exposure to these triggers.

  • What happens when you get everything you want?

    Getting everything that you want is not always a recipe for happiness or fulfilment. Research demonstrates that once people attain materialistic goals, their satisfaction level drops relatively quickly, and they often start yearning for new desires.


  • The Psychology of Materialism, Greenfield, 2018
  • The Role of Want and Desires in Human Decision Making, Kivetz and Ishikawa, 2006
  • The Spiritual Importance of Want and Desire, Hanh, 2016

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