You’ve probably seen this pyramid before. Whether it was in school or on the internet, you may have come upon the same image. Abraham Maslow, a prominent psychologist, created this theory of needs. In 1943, he proposed in both his works A Theory of Human Motivation and Motivation and Personality, how humans are motivated by five categories of needs. He arranged these needs from basic to advanced–we must fulfill basic needs first before we can reach higher stages. During the 1970s, Maslow added a level on top of the original five he developed. Let’s go over each level:
Air, water, food, shelter, clothing, and sleep are essential for our survival. Without just one of these, we can’t meet other needs. For example, you can’t focus on anything else if you lack sleep or if you’re hungry. Our body’s systems always require balance (e.g. air and temperature regulation is vital).
Safety and Security
Living in a safe environment, having a steady source of income, and possessing physical and mental well-being, fall under this category. People need peace of mind and a sense of order in their lives. Have you ever encountered a calm, healthy person who’s got control over his situation? That resembles someone with fulfilled safety and security needs.
Love and Belonging
Humans are wired to seek connection. Social relationships not only satisfy us, they even keep us from illness. Studies prove how isolation contributes to various disorders such as depression, obesity, and anxiety. Your family, friends, significant other, church mates, or colleagues play an important role. We gain acceptance when we have a place in society, while we gain love when we receive affection from our loved ones and reciprocate it.
Esteem involves feeling valued. Everyone has a need for affirmation. Getting recognized for your talents or achievements gives you self-confidence. You earn respect and at the same time, you become more motivated, seeing those who appreciate your efforts. It’s a natural need to establish your part in the world.
According to Maslow, “What a man can be, he must be.” We have to live up to our full potential, that is, giving our best in doing what we are meant to do. You aim to make a masterpiece if you’re an artist. If you’re a chef, cooking delectable dishes is your goal. Self-actualized individuals are self-aware. They are more concerned with their personal growth than with people’s opinion of them.
This is the new level. Once you’ve fulfilled the previous needs which focus on you, universal good becomes your next interest. You look beyond yourself. Your priorities include extending a helping hand and other activities that don’t primarily benefit you. As you go through this stage, peak experiences happen. Similar to a ‘spiritual awakening‘, you enter emotional or mystical states where you feel like you’re conscious of ultimate truth and the unity of all things.
All in all, Maslow’s updated hierarchy of needs seem to make sense. His pyramid’s apex has been relevant from then until this current millennium. A lot of people are now open to zen teachings like mindfulness and self-control. This theory maintains its significance over time. Furthermore, there are sources out there discussing other additions to the theory if you want to do your own research.