Hacking Maslow’s Hierarchy to Live a Happier Life
In 1943, a man by the name of Abraham Maslow created a simple way for people to understand the Theory of Human Motivation and progression. This was then made into a familiar pyramid chart called the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as shown below.
Now, basically, as humans we move up the pyramid in motivation from our basic physiological needs such as eating, shelter, and reproduction to much higher more spiritual needs called self-actualization.
Maslow believed that to reach the highest level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.
Now in my own observations and experiences in life this is mostly true. We need to cover our basics — food, safety, family, etc.
However, a new thought entered my mind recently.
What if we reversed the order of our approach?
Instead of mastering every level going up, could it be possible to start with self-actualization and allow the rest to follow?
If you reverse the process and start with self-actualization, discovering who and what you are in this whole universe of stuff, these other needs start to fall away.
They actually fall away instantly, and without needing to master each level but the one.
If I master self-actualization, no longer do I need to have the approval of others. I don’t need to feel important, successful, respected and other ego-related feelings that come with the esteem category. These all melt away.
By realizing my true self, I no longer feel separated from the whole of the universe so I immediately have a sense of love and belonging also. How could I need to belong to something, if I already belong to everything?
Moving down the pyramid, by feeling my self as complete and whole I have a much greater sense of safety too. As long as there is no immediate danger present, like being in a cage with a starving tiger, all of the other fears start to disappear. This also makes me happier thus improving health and overall wellness which increase my chances of a longer, happier life — thus a great sense of safety.
And last, having self-awareness first, I am able to better cover the physiological needs. Whether earning money to pay for food and shelter or finding a partner to reproduce with. I will have more confidence and energy to do these necessary things for survival.
The best part is by reversing the whole Maslow pyramid, it’s not necessary to master all the other levels. They seem to immediately get taken care of.
If this feels a bit too “woo woo” spiritual for you, just try it out for yourself. Even if we ignore the spiritual side of it and look at it from a psychological stand point, we are freeing up our mind’s stress to have the other levels completely by just being self-aware that we already have them.
Take some time to meditate on finding what makes you truly happy regardless of outside circumstances and you may surprise yourself.
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. — Lucille Ball