There was a time when psychologists only focused on mental disorders, and never gave a thought on how to improve human lives. One psychologist, however, began to research the hows and whys of human potential and happiness. Dr. Abraham Maslow created a profound theory called the Hierarchy of Needs.
Dr. Maslow, through extensive interviews and studies, created this theory that sheds light on what works best for our human mind. These needs are essential for our minds to function at top psychological health.
Hierarchy of Needs
Self-actualization is the ability to know and realize your own potential. In Dr. Maslow’s studies he found the happiest people shared one common trait: they all knew that they could change and improve their own lives. Self-actualization is seeing life for what it really is, and knowing that you hold the power and course of your life in your own hands.
This is the most important need of all: the need to quench your hunger, thirst and all your other physiological needs. If these needs are not met then you will never have the strength to enjoy life to its fullest – you will constantly be thinking about ways to fulfill these basic needs.
This need goes beyond your personal, physical safety. Dr. Maslow also means that humans need to enjoy mental safety as well as feeling secure with their own self image and finances. The loss of a job will greatly affect your sense of safety. We all need money to survive, when this is lacking we are severely tested and vulnerable.
Humans are social creatures who thrive in groups. Whether you are a part of a family, or a part of a group of friends, you need to know that you belong somewhere. Without this belonging, we humans are more prone to suffering from depression and sadness. Our hearts are happiest when we have someone to love and confide in.
When you know you are truly loved and that you have someone who will always listen to you, you will grow and flourish. Dr. Maslow determined that self-esteem is a vital part of our happiness; it lets us know that we are worthy individuals. We are all a small part of a big world, but when we know we belong somewhere we feel special. If you feel loved you can’t help but spread that love.
- Deficiency Needs
Dr. Maslow made clear that the last four needs of the hierarchy are “deficiency needs”. Food, safety, love, and esteem are vital for life itself, not just our happiness. Humans always find ways to fill needs that are not being met, even if it means turning to drugs or alcohol. Once we have successfully filled the needs of the bottom four, then we can make it to the top of Maslow’s mountain. When our needs our met we no longer have to think about them. We are free to seek self-actualization, dream and fly like never before.
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