The Essentialist Life: Invest In Needs, Not Wants

The pursuit of contentment

Thomas Oppong
5 min readJun 6


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“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”―Epictetus

In a society fuelled by constant consumerism, many people spend too much on what they want and not enough on what they actually need.

Consumerism has woven itself into the fabric of our lives, creating a relentless cycle of desire, acquisition, and subsequent dissatisfaction.

I think we are in a non-essentialist bubble — everything seems important — so of course nothing is,” says Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

We have been conditioned to believe that our worth is measured by our possessions, and that the accumulation of material wealth is the ultimate marker of success and happiness.

However, this paradigm perpetuates a sense of emptiness and perpetual longing, as our wants are insatiable and can never be fully satisfied.

But we can transcend this cultural paradigm and reorient our focus towards investing in needs rather than wants.

It pays to reconsider the foundations of our pursuits.

Is your life truly rooted in genuine necessity and personal fulfilment, or is it shaped by societal expectations, peer pressure, and manipulative marketing?

Pursuing happiness, success, and fulfilment often intertwines with a constant quest for superficial gratification.

Pursuing needs challenges the very essence of human nature. Shifting your focus to investing in needs means you are ready to question the nature of human desire itself.

In the modern world, the line between needs and wants is blurred, and we find ourselves trapped in a relentless pursuit of excess and superfluity.

Investing in needs is the very foundation of the essentialist life — a simple but meaningful existence.

It’s a call to prioritise the essential things that nurture our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being rather than succumbing to the ever-expanding list of external possessions.



Thomas Oppong

Author | Habits, Philosophy & Psychology. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: