I was an independent adult and had loads of fully-formed opinions before I came across Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Within a minute or so I’d decided it wasn’t fit for purpose, mainly because it’s a stack of pancakes that only works in one direction and shows no tendency to mix & match. For example, higher order functioning can go hand in hand with homelessness. The pyramid doesn’t offer any insight around that.
For my money, Platonic ideals are much more useful, and so are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd order approximation techniques I learned in college.
Life Satisfaction and Control
Life satisfaction is often spun as a measure of things in the upper levels of Maslow’s pyramid. But there isn’t a handy label for measuring everything from bottom to top. Quality of Life? Nope, that too is implicitly about things other than the fundamentals. So let’s just think about it in terms of how satisfied we are with a given aspect of life. And instead of going from some external material basis, let’s start on the inside and work outward.
- Do you feel okay within yourself?
- How satisfied are you with your own personhood, your sense of self, your ability to function as a person?
But let’s not leave it at that. Instead, let’s ask about whether you have a satisfactory amount of control over who you are. Of course, this is open to conflicting interpretations, so lets pose it in a couple of distinct ways.
- Are you the person you want to be?
- Do you control yourself?
Next, let’s think about how we measure these.
- Are you mostly the person you want to be, entirely that person, or have significant difficulties being that person? In other words: nowhere near enough, mostly good enough, or almost totally?
- Do you really have difficulties being who you want to be, are you mostly able to be that person, or have you got it really well stitched up?
Self. Home. Work. Companions. Material.
Are you living in a place where you feel adequately able, comfort-able enough to get on with the things you need and want to do? Think this through in terms of your house, your neighbourhood, your region, and then again in terms of service, relationships, and opportunities. Can you get the things you need easily? Can you get around generally? Are you meeting people who can (and sometimes do) support your aims? Overall, are you living where you need to live, and is that something within your ability to control?
Let’s wrap it up for now. I’m sure you get the gist, and can think of questions to ask yourself (or others), can come up with answers, and can pinpoint where the needs are and aren’t being met.
Somewhere along the line it would be nice to know where virtual places fit.