The (not so) Secret of Life!

something necessary for life, in which a deficiency causes an adverse outcome or death

For thousands of years humans have searched for the secret to a meaningful life. Those who claim to have them have been studied and surveyed; and yet there’s been no definitive formula developed on how to achieve one. This is because just as every person’s DNA and fingerprints differ, so does their desire and path to a meaningful life. There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula to find it. It can take a lifetime to discover, and you may find you had it all along. The (not so) secret of life is discovery! The more you discover about yourself and the world around you, the more fulfilling your life will become.

Psychologists, Abraham Maslow expressed his theory of human needs in 1954 in his book Motivation and Personality. He detailed that humans have basic physiological and safety needs for survival, that must be met, for one to be motivated to strive for more advanced needs, such as; belonging, esteem and actualization. He utilized the pyramid model to depict this hierarchy not to indicate the importance one necessarily places on each of these needs. He noted that actualization was the goal and motivator of human life, stating “What a man can be, he must be”. However, we often see that people are not striving to achieve their true potential. Is this due to mental or physical dysfunction, or is it perhaps the fact that as a society the importance of material and superficial achievement has given people a false sense of esteem, which affects one’s sense of belonging? That they have stunted their ability to truly reach for internal purpose and potential for fear of societal rejection and loss of esteem.

As I analyze this theory I imagine the disconnect to be the latter. The human condition has been so affected by external values, set by society that people become confused between their own desire of fulfillment and the ideal picture of fulfillment, as defined by another. We also see an imbalance of value in need placed in some people, where they must receive these things from external sources and when left to their own devices, they fall apart. But, what if we created a new model that gave people a better understanding of the development of life and the balance of needs required to reach true fulfillment.

Human Needs Reimagined

As I begin to reimagine the human needs model, I visualize it in a circular and integrated form that develops over the course of one’s life. At the core the basic and instinctual human desire is to live, but as humanity evolves and life develops it instinctually strives to fulfill more complex desires. We can therefore separate human needs into two basic categories; physical and emotional.

As a human develops over their lifetime they will experience need in the form of three phases; survival, sustainment, and fulfillment. In order to exist in the two higher phases, the physical and emotional needs of each subsequent phase must be met. For example, think of a newborn baby, their sole focus will be on survival, they would find little use for esteem and purpose in this phase of their lives. They also wouldn’t have the information to know what a healthy diet or exercise requirement is they will eat to live. As the child ages and learns from experiences and others, they will gain knowledge and be motivated to live a sustained existence. In early adolescence they will desire love and belonging that’s deeper than friendship and familial connection for the sake of protection. They will begin to understand esteem and desire autonomy. They however, are not likely seeking spiritual fulfillment, a life partner, self-awareness, etc. It is not until adulthood that we are driven to seek fulfillment. The underlying factor to reaching each level and ultimately one’s true potential is the ability to attain knowledge and develop wisdom.

Many people have lived a long and seemingly happy life never reaching the fulfillment phase, it is likely it was always something they desired, but never gained the wisdom needed to get them there. They may have even convinced themselves that living to avoid death was equal to a life fulfilled. Just imagine the possibilities of humanity if each individual were enlightened and empowered to discover a fulfilled existence.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Fulfilled Existence Model  >>see more

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