Monday, April 13, 2015

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Different needs, from basic to highest

People have basic needs in life. Some needs are more basic or important than other needs. As our lives progress and as some of these needs are met, new wants and desires emerge. One theory that talks about this is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

In Maslow's theory (theory means a belief or idea), he says that there are five basic needs that people crave. As the lower needs on the pyramid are met, we move up towards the next need. The lower needs are needs that are more important for survival. The top needs are not required to stay alive, but many people begin to desire them as their health and safety are met.

We will begin by talking about each need one at a time:

Physiological Needs

It is safe to assume that, if you are reading this, or if you will be going to Friday Night Club, that your physiological needs are met.  Physiological needs are those needs in which, without, we would not survive.  For example, some of these needs are air, water, food, a place to sleep that is warm enough so we do not freeze.  If your physiological needs were not met, chances are, you would not be reading about this theory on the internet, but instead trying to acquire (get) food, air, water, and any means for survival.


Once we have the basic needs for bodily survival (life), or the physiological needs met, we move onto the next level of survival (up the pyramid).  This includes things that help us feel secure and safe.  A home, a job (or some way to earn money), extra food for the future, safety from war or dangerous situations, and medicine are examples of this type of need.

Love and belonging: for most people, being a part of a group comes after survival and basic needs are met.
Love and Belonging

This is a powerful need that comes around the same time as safety, most often right after.  Love and belonging includes friends, family, spouse, and people who we feel comfortable around.  People want to feel that they are loved, and once the bodily needs of survival are met, we crave love and belonging.  Love and belonging can also give us more safety and, as part of a group, we can have our lower needs taken care of much easier.


People have a desire to feel respected and appreciated. This need is not as strong as the others and is not as important for survival. However, once we have friends and feel that we belong to a group, we crave respect. We want to show that we are valuable to a group and that we are worthy of being esteemed.

There are two types of esteem. Esteem from others and esteem from self. Esteem from others includes a need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. Esteem from self includes a need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom. The esteem from self is said to be more important, or a higher need, as it is more important for survival, and as a result, we crave it more.

Self Actualization
"What a man can be, he must be," Maslow said. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. Self actualization is, sadly, not found in the lives of many people in the world. In fact, very few people in the world get to the point that they feel that they have reached their highest potential in life. Think of some people who you consider to have reached this point. Have you? What would you need to get to this point?

"What a man can be, he must be" -Abraham Maslow
Where are you?

Think about your needs. What needs have been met in your life? Chances are, if you are reading this website on a computer/phone, or if you are able to go to Friday Night Club, Physiological Needs have been met. Safety needs have likely been met as well.

The next three needs (love and relationship, esteem, and self actualization), and lack thereof, I believe, are the cause of much depression in life. I have found that people who struggle for survival and safety have little time to think about what they do not have. As we get further on the needs pyramid, we start to see that we want more. Do you find that you want more friends, love, a better job, more money, more respect, and to accomplish something great in your life? Do you feel like you are missing out on something? Most people do, sadly. I have met only a few people who are truly content with their life, and yet they still sometimes want more. Even I find myself wanting more than I have. It is natural. And we rarely live long enough to truly accomplish all that we could accomplish in life.

Achieving Needs

What are some ways that we can achieve these needs?  It seems that many people have many of their needs met without thinking much about it.  Basic needs are often met by a combination of work, society, and the result of which family and place were born into.  Safety needs require a combination of society and money.  When people do not feel safe they oftentimes turn to God and prayer.

In a previous talk, we discussed about how we think and what we focus on.  Many people have faith that their needs will be met.  They believe that God meets the needs of His children.  Looking back on my life, I believe that God has met our needs and strengthened us and led us throughout life.  I also believe that following God's law (10 commandments) is a way in which our needs are met.  By treating others with respect and showing love to both man and God, our lives are better off as a result.

The theory as through the lives of others and in other cultures

What do you think of this theory? Does it hold true for you? There is some criticism of it, and not all cultures follow this pattern. For example, looking at the life of Jesus, we see that he has met the highest point on the pyramid; self-actualization. He is the most influential person to have ever lived. His name has been told and retold to the entire world. He has done things that no man has ever come close to doing. One can not truly study the life of Jesus and not feel awe and wonder. Why did so many people follow him? How did he feed the multitude with only a small amount of fish and bread? How did he walk on water? How did he rise from the dead? Many wonder if these stories are true. Yet, one can not look at the amount of prophecy in the old testament of the Bible, all written by different authors over thousands of years, and say that it was merely a coincidence. How did one man do so much good in the world?

Jesus is one person who has met the highest level need, Self Actualization.
Yet, looking at the life of Jesus, we ask ourselves: How were all his needs met? He was a homeless man who lived wherever he went. He was not a rich man nor did he earn money. Yet, he was always fed and nourished (he had faith that he would be taken care of wherever he went). He was hung on the cross and did not demand that the people bow down to him or give him respect.  In fact, when he was crucified, he was mocked and made fun of.  His message throughout his ministry was based on scripture and the worship and esteem towards God. "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"


There is a lot to say about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory and, sadly, not everything can be said in a small amount of time.  This is a huge theory that has been discussed in many textbooks and literature.  Maslow's theory can be applied to your life to see where you are as a person.  Have your basic needs been met?  Perhaps we are better off than we think we are?  That is something to think about as you prepare for Friday Night Club.

--- English Journal Questions ---

If you are keeping an English Journal, consider writing answers to these questions to think about the topic in more detail.

1.  Where are you in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid?
2.  Have you ever been lower or higher on the pyramid?  Why?
3.  What do you think you would need to accomplish to feel "Self Actualization" or "to become the most you can be?"
4.  Name someone or some people who have reached the highest point on the pyramid.
5.  How have your most basic needs been met?
6.  Do you think prayer and faith (combined with action) are good ways to move up the pyramid.
7.  Is there anything you would add to the pyramid?



Recommended Reading:
The Desire of Ages (free to read online - also translated into Ukrainian, Russian, and many other languages) - A book about the life of Jesus Christ.


The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical needs. If these "deficiency needs" are not met – with the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) need – there may not be a physical indication, but the individual will feel anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs. (source: Wikipedia)

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