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The Basics

During my life, I have felt like I was just surviving; that I needed something or somebody.  I have often felt like “I’m not getting anywhere”.   In really hard times, I felt like I was losing it all; that some thing or somebody was being taken away from me.   At other moments, I convinced my self that I didn’t need anything or anyone!  I felt like I was existing, “making it”, that I had what I needed or that I had my act together.  Most times, I felt simply that I can do and be so much more.

What do we need to survive? What does it mean to thrive?  What does it mean to LIVE?

Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist who proposed a hierarchy of human needs to sustain the best psychological health of an individual to survive, develop and grow.  He studied the healthiest people in his network surmising that the study of “stunted” individuals would contribute to a stunted society (more on this some other time) .

Maslow proposed that there are two forms of human desire (1) the basic needs of health, safety, love and esteem that must be met before (2) the need and motivation to reach one’s full potential can be self-actualized.  He divided the needs into 7 levels, each laying the foundation for an individual’s decreased anxiety and tension and increase in satisfaction.

1. Physiological Health Needs – Food, drink, oxygen, temperature regulation, sleep and exercise

2. Safety Needs – Protection from danger and elimination of fear, fight or flight

3. Love and Belongingness – Mom, Dad, receiving and giving love, affection, trust and acceptance; being part of a tribe, that is – family, friends or work

4. Esteem Needs – Respect of others and self; a sense of competence

5. Cognitive Needs – Understanding, curiosity, exploration, prediction from experience

6. Aesthetic Needs – Beautification of surroundings, symmetry, balance, order, form

7. Self-Actualization – Being all that your authentic self was meant to be

This in turn is how we survive.

·       The younger we are, the more concerned we are with basic needs.

·       Physical safety and exercise can release the same endorphins as food.

·       Maternal AND paternal deprivation can lead to odd sleep patterns, mental instability, social impairment and life long anxiety and depression.

·       As teenagers and young adults, our need to belong and tribal instincts kick in.  We compare, compete, size up, make allies and make opponents)  Our foundational needs “should have been met” and we are now entering the biological capability to provide those basic needs for ourselves, someone else or the next generation.

·       The higher up we go in the triangle, the harder it is to achieve these targets.  The busier we get and the harder it is to maintain the foundation, provide for others and to realize our own potential. Something or some one else’s needs may become more important than your or your family’s basic needs.

·       The pinnacle of achieving self-actualization is therefore the most difficult to achieve and a lifetime can be spent getting there. Some individuals never even come close to this part in their lifetimes.

To thrive, we must become mentally and physically fitter and fitter. Our needs have to be satisfied and we have to feel motivated for more. We have to be making progress (the opposite of stagnant).

Sometimes, it’s easier to examine others than ourselves.  We’ll do both.

Let’s reflect on others.  Why is it hard to…

  • be the child of a single mother or father, a foster child, a child of abusive parents
  • be a teenage parent
  • be a young soldier
  • be a felon
  • have an addiction
  • be a widow or divorcee
  • lose a position or job
  • be discriminated against or even feel like it

These are common “struggles”.   What was the basic need in the past and what is the basic need now?

Let’s self reflect. Have you worked out what level you are at? How much further do you have to climb on the triangle?  What is delaying you from getting to the pinnacle of your achievable success?

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