What does real happiness mean to you?
In this fast paced and highly competitive world we strive to succeed, it is all about looking good, status, saving face, the house we own, the car we drive and the clothes we wear, what we look like. This is what most people focus on and when they lose that focus they are fighting to survive. What happens is that we are working to meet our physical needs, but what drops out of view are our emotional well-being needs and lasting happiness deep down.
We are asleep while we are awake, it is as if we are slowly dying inside. When these needs are not met we turn to drink, drugs, or other stimulants. Our home life suffers, our relationships suffer and we become depressed. We see this more and more in society, take the example of the world of celebrities; they seem like they have it all, but how many of them do we hear about who commit suicide or over-dose on drugs? It is becoming a truly worrying social dilemma.
In essence, it is all about the needs we focus on as ‘important’ and getting those needs met. If we become absorbed in meeting only physical needs we begin to lose connection to our emotional well-being and we wonder why life becomes one long tedious struggle where we sink into crisis and lose sight of our real happiness. We begin to wither inside and our emotional state begins to impact our psychical state. It is therefore important to identify the needs that bring you lasting joy and fulfillment.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of the hierarchy of needs in 1943. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other more complex needs. There are five different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Five Levels of the Hierarchy of Needs
- Physiological Needs: These include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food and sleep. These needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met.
- Security Needs: These include needs for safety and security. Security needs are important for survival, but they are not as demanding as the physiological needs. Examples of security needs include a desire for steady employment, health insurance, safe neighborhoods and shelter from the environment.
- Social Needs: These include needs for belonging, love and affection, which are considered to be less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does involvement in social, community or religious groups.
- Esteem Needs: After the first three needs have been satisfied, esteem needs becomes increasingly important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition and accomplishment.
- Self-actualising Needs: This is the highest level of needs in the hierarchy. Self-actualising people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested fulfilling their potential.
Physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs, meaning that these needs arise due to deprivation. Satisfying these lower-level needs is important in order to avoid unpleasant feelings or consequences. These needs are similar to instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior. Self-actualising needs, at the highest-level of the hierarchy, is termed as growth needs, which do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person in order to achieve lasting happiness and fulfillment.
You often find people speak of not being happy, lack of motivation, overwhelmed, lack of vision, fearful of the future and disconnected from love, creativity and joy. It is always surprising that these people are often highly successful, have a career that they are happy with and earning good money. In fact, outwardly their lives seem good, however they want something more because many of their needs outside of work are not met.
Are your needs met?
- Reconnect to your values which will become your guiding lights and evaluate what is important to you.
- Identify the deficit of your needs. Connecting with the deficit will help you realise that you are simply no longer living life in line with your values which leaves you immersed in shadow.
- Reformulate your vision and move towards the life you say you want.
- Begin to carve out a path towards a happier and a more fulfilling life.
Graham Kean, MA (Psych), MMC (IAC)