Happiness and Meeting Needs

Brief Psych 101 piece: Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American psychologist who created a theory of psychological health based on the idea that all humans have the same general needs in ascending order of importance for survival.  The order of needs goes like this: physiological, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem, and finally self-actualization, which basically means the achievement of one’s full potential. 

Okay.  So what does this have to do with happiness?  Well, think about a time when you weren’t happy.  Within Maslow’s framework, we could explain the reason for that was because a need in one of these areas was not being met.  Maybe you felt underappreciated at work (esteem need), or were dumped (love and belonging).  Maybe the situation was more dire – you didn’t have enough money to put food on the table that week (physiological) or were mugged (safety).  Maybe you were struggling with radical acceptance or a moral issue (self-actualization stuff).  Next time you feel something difficult (anxious, ashamed, unfulfilled, rejected, etc.) ask yourself, “What need isn’t being met?” and then do something to meet it.  Tip – it works when dealing with others, too!