More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Maslow?s Hierarchy of Human Needs
February 19th, 2007
Make Happiness Blog

Maslow?s hierarchy is usually envisioned as a pyramid, with the most basic and most important needs at the bottom of the stack.

Maslowshierarchyofneeds-1.png

As each of our levels of needs are met, we start to worry about the next level of the pyramid. A person who cannot breathe does not spend a lot of effort worrying about self-esteem issues. But, when his physiological needs are met, he does begin to worry about his safety needs.

People at one level of the pyramid often mistakenly believe that they will be happy if only they can get to the next level. Then, when they achieve the next level they are surprised to discover that they are not happy.

One incredibly important key to happiness is to enjoy the process of moving up the pyramid. As each new level is achieved, there will be a temporary rush of joyful celebration ? but it will soon subside as you acclimate to the new level and see the challenges presented by the level still above you.

Achieving stable and lasting happiness requires that you are able to appreciate the progress that you have made and the joy that you will receive at each level of the pyramid which you achieve in the future. The requires a holistic viewpoint of the struggles of your life, an understanding that these struggles are a gift, and an appreciation of the joy that these struggles can bring.
 

ladylore

Account Closed
This made me think of what happens to many people in their 20's when they have reached some of their goals too early on. A bit of "Did it, got the t-shirt, the top wasn't what I expected it to be, now what." If it sounds a bit cynical, its because it is for me. I reached a couple mile stones in my 20's that I wasn't prepared for and gave alot of things away. (I will explain more later :) )

Now I enjoy the journey, bumps and all.
 

Bones

Member
Hey I remember seeing this in my psychology book and learning about it in a psyc course.

I always liked this pyramid and found it sort of funny. :p
 
People at one level of the pyramid often mistakenly believe that they will be happy if only they can get to the next level. Then, when they achieve the next level they are surprised to discover that they are not happy.
so once you reach the top of the pyramid, this is what constitutes a sense of happiness?
 

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Actually, Maslow believed that less then 1% of the human race was capable of reaching the top of the pyramid. For the rest, what mattered ws striving toward that goal.
 
wow. that's rather depressing.
 

Daniel

admin@psychlinks.org
Administrator
Of course, one can be critical of Maslow since there is far more theory than data:

A further basic criticism of Maslow is that he assumed that the most fundamental
human needs are physiological needs and needs for physical safety. The problem is that
the one thing that a newborn infant needs more than anything is obviously a loving
mother. Unless the newborn baby is picked up and cared for, it will quickly die.

Psychology as Religion - Amazon Reader (pg. 38)
 

Bones

Member
Actually, Maslow believed that less then 1% of the human race was capable of reaching the top of the pyramid. For the rest, what mattered ws striving toward that goal.

Thats not surprising at all. And I'm definitely not one among those 1% :rolleyes:


Maybe a newborn infant's need for its mother can be thought of as a physiological / safety need in that stage of its life, no?
 

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
wow. that's rather depressing.

Not really - or not necessarily. First, that's only Maslow's opinion (see below). Second, I've always felt that the most important thing in anyone's life is striving toward self-actualization and personal goals. Achieving those goals is always nice but not really necessary. I am never going to be a saint but if I continue to strive to be the best human being I can be that's rewarding and fulfilling in its own right.

Of course, one can be critical of Maslow since there is far more theory than data:

Also, he was more pessimistic about the human condition than some others, notably Carl Rogers, who had a somewhat different view of self-actualization and a much more positive stance on the ability of people to achieve self-actualization.
 
I remember seeing this years ago when I studied Psychology. Maslow was also the guy who studied attachment in monkeys, wasn't he?

Now, I've seen that pyramid after many years, a thought has struck me that it's rather rigid. Just because one can achieve the next level, it doesn't mean to say they cannot slip back down a level or two. The movement between the levels is fluid and can change frequently.

Thanks for sharing this, David.
 

ThatLady

Member
I find Carl Rogers' take on the issue a lot more palatable, and more realistic. :)
 
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