Many people spend a significant amount of money pursuing the good life. But what truly defines the good life, and how can we ensure we experience more of it?
In this article, we will explore Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and discuss how to prioritise these needs to reach the pinnacle of self-actualisation. However, it’s essential to recognise that it’s less about a rigid order and more about avoiding pitfalls along the way. By understanding the significance of healthy relationships and Emotional Intelligence, we can build a solid foundation for a fulfilling life.
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What Science Says About What Makes Us Happy
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, a remarkable longitudinal study conducted over the past 80 years, examined the lives of 268 men from different backgrounds. The key question researchers sought to answer was: What leads to happiness?
Their findings were profound.
Above all else, relationships emerged as the most influential factor in creating and maintaining a happy and fulfilling life. Relationships surpass fame, wealth, physical appearance, career success, and sexual prowess in contributing to happiness.
What We Can Learn from Maslow
At this point, we delve into the work of Abraham Maslow and his renowned theory of motivation – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to this theory, people are driven by certain fundamental needs that operate in a hierarchical order. As we fulfil basic needs, we become motivated to pursue higher-level needs.
The hierarchy consists of five levels that fall into three types of needs. Our most primal needs are physiological, which encompass necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Once we attain safety and security, our psychological needs come into play. The most fundamental among these is the need for love and belonging, which involves cultivating meaningful relationships and finding psychological safety within them. This demonstrates that relationships form the bedrock of our most basic psychological needs. Only once we have these needs met can we progress to esteem needs and self-fulfilment.
Doing Things in the Right Order
As we ascend Maslow’s Hierarchy, it’s crucial to recognise that needs are fulfilled in different ways. While it’s natural to prioritise survival initially, true flourishing requires transcending selfishness. To reach our true potential, we must progress through the stages of the hierarchy. Getting stuck in the middle, attempting to fulfil needs for love, belonging, and esteem with self-centred tools and lower-level thinking, prevents us from achieving self-actualisation.
However, building healthy relationships in the middle becomes its own reward and serves as the foundation for the last level of selflessness – self-actualisation. This raises an essential question: How can we effectively cultivate meaningful relationships?
With the Skills of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) represents the set of skills that enables us to achieve love, belonging, and the right kind of esteem. By honing these skills, we can build enduring relationships that lead us toward the good life and self-actualisation.
In conclusion, the path to the good life lies in understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, embracing the significance of healthy relationships, and developing Emotional Intelligence. If we desire the good life, we must prioritise nurturing and sustaining healthy, long-term connections. As we embark on this journey, let us climb the pyramid the right way and discover the profound rewards of self-actualisation.