Maslow’s Hierarchy – Upside Down for greater effect

What if it was different?

What if it was different?

In my last post, I talked about the needs of the spirit – Growth and Contribution. My realisation in the process of writing was that the six core needs are the wrong way around. The first two needs should be growth and contribution (needs of the spirit), FOLLOWED by the needs of the ego. This means that if we focused on growth and contribution as a priority, we would not need to make any effort to fulfill the needs of the ego because they would have been already met through achieving growth and contribution. Have I lost anyone yet? So, I decided to apply this same well thought out logic to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – human motivation explained

For those unfamiliar with this, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory of human motivation. The theory states that the fundamental needs of the bottom layers of the pyramid need to be met before an individual will strongly desire the higher level needs. Maslow proposed that we need to have our physiological needs met first, THEN safety, THEN connection, THEN esteem and ONLY THEN self-actualisation. It makes sense on many levels – you are unlikely to seek deep connection and ultimate acceptance and self-actualisation if you do not have anywhere to sleep. Or are you?…

Challenges to the theory

This theory has been challenged by a number of people including Geert Hofstede – who pointed out that the hierarchy fails to take into account the difference between individualist and collectivist societies. I would like to challenge it for another reason: Why should we have to move through a hierarchy to achieve what is already in our hearts? In our souls? We were all born as perfect human beings with everything we needed. Over time, we suffer from learned behaviours passed down. Behaviours that make us doubt our very selves, and as a result seek certainty, connection, variety and significance in potentially unresourceful ways. We become unhappier. Also, while we are at it, nothing in nature is linear, so why would our development as human beings be linear? But let’s leave that for now and have a brief look at what it would be like in a world where we all focused on self-actualisation as a priority. We sought out creativity and spontaneity, focused on solving problems with no prejudice. What would the world be like? What if, when we had all that (or at leas a fair chunk, let’s not get too linear) we then went after self-esteem, achievement, confidence and focused on respecting others and self?

I’m going out on a limb here, but do you think there’s a chance it might lead to greater friendships? And then, do you think as a result of these friendships and family bonds we would feel secure and safe? Then as a result of feeling secure and safe, we would not have to worry about basic physiological functions at all? Because they would already been taken care of?

Just like prioritising growth and contribution, what if we gave ourselves a rest from making sure we had enough food, shelter, sex and safety and turned the whole thing upside down? I’m not saying move out of your home and live in the park, just don’t FOCUS so much on it. As human beings we are naturally averse to risk, but that can make us miss out on achievement and satisfaction.

Are you playing it too safe? Are you focusing too much on the basics and as a result risking your ultimate happiness? Turn that pyramid upside down – even just for a day – and share your experience using your favourite button!