How do we become happy? A question that has been asked since the dawn of man. And, answered by philosophers, gurus, and recently psychologists.
Maslow’s Pyramid – The Hierarchy of Needs
One of them was Abraham Maslow, who formulated his ‘hierarchy of needs’, or “Maslow’s pyramid”. What can we learn from this pyramid, if we want to be happy?
Maslow’s pyramid is divided into five levels of needs:
- love and belonging
are biological and physical requirements, like breathing, food, water, and sleep. When these needs are not fulfilled, they become the only thing we are preoccupied with.
are physical safety, and needs for home, employment, income, and health. Without fulfilment of these needs, a person continually feels insecure and unprotected.
Love and belonging needs
deal with creativity, spontaneity and problem-solving. They are met if we can become everything we are capable of becoming. Self-actualizing people have a grounded sense of well-being and satisfaction. And a sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude about life.
Maslow noted that his hierarchy is a general description. Levels are not fixed, and each need does not have to be fulfilled 100% to move to higher levels.
So, how do we become happy? Maslow called the lower four levels “deficiency needs”: if we don’t have them met, it influences our psychological health and obstructs our tendency for growth, autonomy, identity, and excellence.
Fulfill your needs at all levels, and become a truly happy person!
In later work, Maslow added a sixth level to the hierarchy: meta-needs or intrinsic values. Maslow studied what keeps self-actualising people motivated. He found that these people seek things like truth, goodness, beauty, excellence, and so on. Instead of being interests that involve self-interest, these values transcend the individual. By including these types of needs, Maslow answered criticism about the absence of desires to know, desires for beauty, and desires for truth, that at this sixth level can be incorporated in the pyramid.