By Laura Mills

   This summer, as a new mom, I registered for gifts at two stores. Each gave me a catalog of suggested items prior to composing my own wish list. Some of the items I knew I couldn’t or didn’t want to do without, but also a good number seemed either extravagant or useless. In composing my own list, I spent serious time considering the questions “What do I need?” and “What do I want?” By the end of the process, my list looked quite different from either pre-printed registry guide.

   When was the last time you asked yourself either “What do I need?” or “What do I want?” My guess is, like me, it was more recent than you initially think—going out for lunch, treating a headache, stopping for gas—yet most of the time we process the questions and our answers so quickly we don’t notice. For me, actually considering each question highlighted the fact that I’ve confused “need” and “want” many times. In fact, I believe discerning the difference has been one of the most difficult tasks of my adulthood. My needs and wants frequently differ, sometimes dramatically—and as my life experience grows, the more aware I become of the not-always-palatable discrepancy between the two.

  A spiritual person once told me that we often don’t end up with what we think we want, but somehow, in some way, the higher power always provides what we need. I didn’t believe this until quite recently, when I looked back at years of ups and downs and realized “Aha! Now I get it!” What about you? The next time you ask yourself either “What do I need?” or “What do I want?” consider if the question is indeed the correct one. Whether you are composing a gift registry or navigating the profound stuff of life, the concept is the same. You might just get to know yourself better; you might just glimpse the tremendous gifts you’ve already received.