The Things We Want Most | Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maybe you’ve heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? In short, it’s a motivational theory explaining the things we desire most—portrayed as levels within a pyramid. 

Security + Certainty | Physical Safety + Wellbeing

The roots of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, we can see that the needs are essential. They include simple physiological needs such as shelter, water, and food.

Moving upward along the hierarchy of needs, a consistent flow of resources, along with feelings of security, are what we want. They include some form of basic financial security (monetary resources, career, job) and a physical environment with no immediate sense of danger.

Taking action: Naturally, once we’ve got food, water, clothes, and a bed to sleep in, we’ll instinctively seek out environments that feel safe. Our search for security is both physiological and psychological, and some might argue that food and water are not more important than safety. It’s true that we’re not going to feel the need to eat a burger while in a dangerous situation, so there is some truth to the idea that safety is primary. However, we’re not typically in any immediate danger, and if we go long enough without food and water, we won’t live long enough to feel unsafe

Putting the time and effort into creating your ideal environment can encourage more feelings of calming certainty. In the same way, we can support others who might be experiencing uncertainty if we become the certainty in their lives. And this happens through connections in our relationships.

Relationship + Connection | Emotional Security + Belonging

The fundamentals of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Once the minimums of the hierarchy of needs are met, we want to feel love or, at the very least, a sense of connection within a social group or tribe, which we can experience through all kinds of relationships (friendships, work partnerships, romantic, etc.). 

After establishing security and certainty, we’ll start to feel lonely without other humans around. From birth, we seek out a feeling of belonging with at least one other person, creating a sense of connection. 

Taking action: When we establish and nurture connections with others, it amplifies our experience of safety in the process, simultaneously fueling those feelings we so genuinely need.

For example, if you feel respected and well-liked at your job while consistently getting recognized for your efforts, you’ll ultimately generate strong connections and feelings of certainty about your career, future, and resources on a regular basis.

Additionally, by being part of a well-established group (with potential for masterminding), you’re more likely to take “risks” by speaking up with new ideas. You’ll feel less worried about judgment and more motivated to implement innovation.

So, what about the things that we want most? It all depends on individual personal standards.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and your personal standards

Here’s an interesting estimation that’s been floating around the net (and validated by the American Red Cross): If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world

But of course, these basics might not mean much when it comes to our personal perspective. Many of us grew up with these needs being met and have come to accept (and expect!) them as a part of everyday life. This is the natural process of developing our own personal level of standards, and subsequently, this is why your capacity for achieving all kinds of success is huge!

Impact + Significance | Growth + Self Actualization

The most compelling levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

We create feelings of safety by having strong personal connections and plenty of available resources. Certainty, connection, and significance are essential to brain function, as well as the ability to win at life (performing at our job, maintaining healthy relationships, and simply being a decent person).

And once we have most of our critical needs being met regularly, we’ll often seek out feelings of impact and significance. When we feel significantwe know that our efforts are making an impact on the world and that those that are on the receiving end of our actions are going to benefit greatly. These feelings create momentum for action and a clear path towards self-actualization and growth!

Taking action: The process of growth is what elevates our talents and creativity into success. Maslow has stated, “Self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated.” These things are happening because we really want them to, not because of need. So instead of being a driving force, it’s a desire—to become everything that we are capable of becoming.

We can help others to experience significance by being transparent, fair, honest, and accountable in all communications with them. Showing respect towards others reaffirms their own beliefs of worthiness and self-confidence. We’ll also be rewarded for personally prioritizing these values because we cannot become the best version of ourselves without implementing them.

It’s also important to note that if you happen to be in a situation where some of your basic needs are lacking (you were laid off/you’re looking for a job, your relationships feel uncertain, your home life is unstable), or you’re in jeopardy of any of the needs being taken away, it’s going to take a lot more effort to access your creativity, make changes, or notice progress.

Because of the body’s fear-induced hormone cocktail (adrenaline and cortisol) created by our nervous system, it is incredibly challenging to perform at our peak, feel emotionally engaged, or take massive action.

Taking massive action can only happen when we also win the game of procrastination!

Learn more about ending procrastination from John Assaraf:

  • Reclaim your time and self-confidence
  • Eliminate debilitating feelings and emotions
  • Be proactive in taking on new challenges
  • Eliminate guilt and pressure

by Cherilyn Cole
author + your direct connect @ GrowthLenses

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