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Psychology 101, What Makes People Happy?


Happiness Is Easy

Happiness is easy. Or is it? We think we are happy sometimes, not so happy at other times. We can even, at times, be euphoric! But what makes happiness? This psychology 101 best guide to happiness article, looks into this and is focused around the ideas of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is formulated on his view that self-actualisation is the key to what makes people happy.

Want to find happiness?

Take a look at this article so as you can recognise self actualisation.

. .

Psychology Definition

As this is a psychology 101 based article, I will start by providing a ‘working definition’ of psychology as a term:

‘Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour of humans and animals.’

Psychologists concentrate on what is observable and measurable in a person’s behaviour. This includes the biological processes in the body, although, the mind is central to the subject.


Endorphins And Happiness

So, does observing and measuring people’s happy behaviour tell us that they are what they appear to be? We see laughter and smiles as the thrill of the theme park ride induces happiness. But is it the thrill and the ride that makes people happy? The environmental stimulant from the ride can certainly induce and trigger a sequence of hormonal reactions in the body. These hormones or endorphins can create a rush of what we might term happiness. What are endorphins? Click wikipedia's endorphines for more.

Endorphins are, essentially, a drug fix formulated on false fear – fight and flight – that sets off a chemical reaction in the brain. Yes, sure, during the fix we might feel happy, but remember that this is not happiness – this is a chemical reaction, a delusion.

What makes people happy, some might say, is the satisfaction that substances like drugs and alcohol can give them. They enjoy the effects and may return again and again to the substance in order achieve a high. People think they are happy at the time of taking these substances, however, this shouldn’t be confused with happiness - this is addiction. It is about escaping and creating artificial happiness. That is not to say that an occasional drinker is labelled an addict, I must add.

Happy Families


Look to Life Style for Indications of Potential Happiness

We have, therefore, established that, from the above definition, we are a balance of body and mind. These chemical reactions are a part of us and can help feelings of happiness. There is no denying this – we feel, therefore, we are. But if these emotions are only chemically induced, what is it that makes people happy? How can the behaviour be observed with a psychological analysis?

It is with observing the life style of people that can help identify the level of potential happiness experienced in others. How can anyone achieve happiness when they don't have their basic needs catered for? An example of these needs include basic fundamentals like food, water, sleep; followed by a home, income, safety and employment opportunities. The overall view, therefore, of a person's life can provide clues as to the potential happiness of others.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs focuses on self-fulfillment and, consequently, happiness. This was a theory that resulted from his research ‘Motivation and Personality’, 1970, and ‘The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 1971. To summarise: self-actualisation is the innate human motivation that each of us has to achieve our potential. This is by using and developing our skills, talents and abilities whereby when we experience a sense of fulfillment – Maslow called this ‘peak experience’ – we achieve self-actualisation.

What does this mean? When we have met a challenging situation or task that we are pleased with, we achieve a peak experience of self-realisation. We are, therefore, happy with our achievement. For that short time we have achieved self-actualisation.

Happy Days Are Endorphin Days

Happy Days Are Endorphin Days

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs Suggests Self Actualisation May Be An Indication Of Happiness

However, in order to get to this point, other base ‘needs’ have to be satisfied. These needs are set or placed at varying degrees. This is his hierarchy. He also suggests that even when people reach the pinical of true self awareness and 'happiness', this is not constant and will come and go.

It is suggested, therefore, that what makes people happy is the development of this self-actualisation. As we can all appreciate and probably acknowledge, happiness never seems to be constant, especially during changing times in our lives and situations.

Interestingly, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is similar in thought. I have provided a diagram to demonstrate this. It is like a ladder where, starting from the bottom, each ‘Need’ must be satisfied before the next ‘Need’ up can motivate us. Everyday each of us may go up and down the hierarchy several times, reaching different levels before returning to the bottom again.

Hierarchy of Needs


The Route To Happiness - An Example

Basic/Fundamental Needs:

  • Physiological Needs – Food, drink, oxygen, temperature regulation, elimination, rest, activity, sex.
  • Safety Needs – Protection from potentially dangerous objects or situations, e.g. the elements, physical illness. The threat to both physical and psychological.

If people can’t pass this point, how can they achieve this?…

  • Love and Belongingness – receiving and giving love, affection trust and acceptance. Affiliating, being part of a group (friends, work, family).

Without love and belongingness how can people achieve…

  • Esteem Needs – The esteem and respect of others and self-esteem and self-respect – a sense, therefore, of competence.

Without feelings of worth, competence and confidence, how can people reach the next level?

  • Cognitive Needs – Knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.

If cognitive needs are not met or achieved…. This cannot be met:

  • Aesthetic Needs – Beauty – in art and nature – symmetry, balance, order, form.

So without feeling comfortable to explore the beauty of life and a sense of balance… this cannot be achieved…

  • Self Actualisation – Realizing your full potential, “becoming everything one is capable of becoming’ – to be the best that you can be. **Happiness**

What Makes People Happy? It Is The End Of The Journey Toward Self-Actualisation

This can be thought of at the smallest level (microcosm) to the greatest level (macrocosm) – daily situations (as demonstrated) to major situations. Examples of major situations are problems associated with unmet base needs that prevent us from reaching happiness. These needs may include problems association with lack of food, drink, shelter, warmth and clothing. Without these needs satisfied, how can people achieve self-actualisation?

What makes people happy, even if these are brief moments, is relief from the worry of basic human needs. It is only then that higher needs may be dealt with for a greater chance of contentment.

How can anyone achieve happiness without, primarily, satisfying base needs and desires? Happiness can’t be achieved if you live life in fear, without shelter or food. Of course, a temporary solution, a touch of happiness, might be induced with the help of alcohol and drugs, but as I have established, this is illusionary and addictive.

Neither can happiness be achieved without stable relationships, love, self-esteem and self-development. Without satisfying the fundamental needs, self-actualisation or happiness cannot be achieved.

Maslow seems to make sense here and we can certainly see that what makes people happy could well be a sense of self-actualisation. Happiness comes from within. This idea can also be found in many spiritual belief systems all over the world. As Maslow was considered the ‘Spiritual Father’ of Humanistic Psychology, it is no wonder that there seems to be some basis to this view.

Now, here I can recommend two fantastic books that will help you on the road to personal happiness. The first one - 100 Simple Secrets to Happy People - is an easy to read book based on scientific evidence. It will help you toward a belief in yourself. This is for people who want to achieve happiness in all aspects of their lives.

'Toward a Psychology of Being' by Maslow adds to a greater, fuller read toward the pathway of happiness or, as he terms it, self actualization. In order to know where you are going to, you have to find a journey to getting there. Please feel free to click on both the Amazon links to view more and see the marvellous reviews from people who have already had the benefit from these books.

If you want to empower yourself and teach yourself mechanisms that will help you to reach your full potential, thereby, achieving happiness, these books can help you there.

5 Steps Toward The Route To Happiness


Psychology 101, therefore, concludes that happiness is not constant. It can come and go and are influenced by external factors. So what makes people happy? It is by satisfying basic human needs that help form the foundations of temporary happiness. This is, therefore, about goals, achieving those goals and being your best. Most importantly, it is knowing when you have achieved this and the sense of satisfaction that it brings with it.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License


Use This Psychology 101 article at your own risk. This Psychology article does not give medical or psychological advice, neither does it give legal opinions and advice.  Any action or outcome that may result from this article is the sole responsibility of the reader.  This article is assumes no responsibility or legal claim against it.

© 2010 shazwellyn


katrice on December 05, 2017:

sometimes being happy can take so much out of y makes y feel tired want to sleep dont want to be around others me i keep my self bizz y by workin out at the ymca and helping others but my self esteem can be a little better learing how to love my self for the good person that i am i love helping pepole

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on July 24, 2014:

Ummm Ian Brendish, you have missed the point. Of course happiness comes from within!

Ian Brendish on July 24, 2014:

Ps Happiness and Pleasure are NOT the same thing

Ian Brendish on July 24, 2014:

Oh dear!

I see you have fallen into the old trap. happiness does NOT depend on anything outside us. It is a CHOICE!

'Happiness is an inside job' - Earl Nightingale

'People are as happy as they choose to be'- Abraham Lincoln

Maslow was not discussing happiness. And sex was not one of his 'basic needs. Your diagram is a misrepresentation.

Happiness comes from within.

helddwnbyall on July 21, 2012:

Shawellyn- A simple but very powerful,meaningful with lots of inside feeling...THANK YOU. (if had a middle name i guess it would be hopeless romantic)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on July 21, 2012:

see response below

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on July 21, 2012:

see reply below

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on July 21, 2012:

helddwnbyall - it is not for me to tell you how to find your joy but for you. Fear stagnates a life but is also instinct that is designed to protect you. You can only be the best you can be and allow others to 'just be themselves'. You can not control them, but you can be YOUR best in every way... self examine and question yourself: 'Was I my best? How can I do it better next time?'

Live by your truth and understand that others truth differs from yours: 'This is my truth, tell me yours.' You might perceive their actions as 'lies' but that actually might just be a conflict with your truth and perfectly valid for them.

I hope I am making sense here... what I mean is that we all live in our own reality and everybody's behavior is easily justified by the individual that is expressing the behavior - they have their reasons for behaving the way they do, you might not understand it but they do.

Surrender. You can not change them, but you can change you and in doing this, others change too. It is a chain reaction.

If there is something that others do that don't make you feel good, turn away, let it go and find ways and people that do. Don't have expectations of others, just expectations of yourself and you will find a route to happiness.

The hierarchy teaches people to prioritize their lives by looking after basic needs and once we have stability, we can concentrate of our joy.

Hope this helps, with love, and yes... 'never, never, give up!'

helddwnbyall on July 13, 2012:

I find the triangle and the needs met theory a good basic foundation. I my self feel fault in some of the people calling themselves my friends under minded a true climb. Shazwellyn, your statement about people that have been "diagnosed with death sentence" is also a major impedance and fear of the execution not only affects finding love but keeps me from finding a solution for the sentence given. What to do, how to combat with little trust because surround by liers . My mom(deceased) told me to "never never never give up" I know not what to do?

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on June 05, 2012:

Rudy... but with worries of homelessnes, lack of food, warmth and necesities, feelings of joyousness will be far from the mind of the suffering individual.

Thank you for reading :)

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on June 04, 2012:

Interesting concepts. Happiness has so many layers, point blank and simple, it is a choice. I agree our basic physical needs being met, are surely part of the key.

Being in touch with our emotions and senses heightens our happiness I believe.

InfinityVal from NNY on May 09, 2012:

Like your article and how you wove the hierarchy of needs through it.

Kathryn L Hill from LA on December 19, 2011:

So this is how to get above 90! Congrats on great work.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on July 26, 2011:

Thank you Mega1. Happiness is whatever rocks your boat. But, importantly, you need to have stabilised your life and have your physical basic needs (roof over head, heating, food etc) met before you can truly find happiness - no one feels happy if they are starving hungry, do they?

mega1 on July 25, 2011:

So you're saying I shouldn't expect others or things to make me happy - but I should try to do what I like to do and its true for me that writing a hub now and then makes me very happy and reading good hubs like yours makes me happy too!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on June 05, 2011:

Thanks no after glow. I think the idea of sex being considered base instinctual desires, is referring to the urge as opposed to an expression of love. The saying 'you can poke the fire without looking at it' comes to mind as an example.

In my personal opinion, for what it is worth, I agree that joy is a whole journey and it is a balance of mind, body and spirit - but we all have our personal truths for which brings us personal joy and/or self actualisation. Of course, we all need to find what 'package' or label suits us best *wink* in our descriptions :)

'It's been a brilliant journey of self-awakening.

And now you've simply got toask yourself this--

What is happiness to you, David?

I want to live a real life.

I don't want to dream any longer.

Any last wishes?

Let them out there read my mind.' From the movie Vanilla Sky Last Scene

no after the glow from USA on May 29, 2011:

This is an informative hub, except for use of the adjective "base" in referring to sex, I think these are undeniable facts. Joy is a whole journey and it is difficult to deny the body-mind-soul connection. Good reading!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 03, 2011:

tsmog - what wonderful comments you have here. It looks like you are on a journey of joy and are aware of your forboyles.

Blessings to you :)

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on April 03, 2011:

wow! Just what I needed. A different voice, a strong discussion, and realization. This is a great article and very well written. Both it and the exploring of your other work offers a treasure of forth coming insight. Plus, I learned about Hubbing too!

In my bipolar walk I went back to school (age 50 or about) psych, soc & phil seeking to understand what my therapist was understanding of me. The three main lines of thought I draw upon today, though they may be a little hazy, is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Symbolic Interactionism, Cognitive-Behaviorism, and William James - The Will to Believe.

Every month, especially when I am discombobulated, I do a process I call Zero Pointing based on the Maslow's Needs to discover where I am out of balance. I use the same process with the pursuit of goals determining where I am off kilter. I believe it has assisted me with staying out of the hospital on several occasions, although there has been some deep ravines and perilous cliff hangers.

Thank you for your diligent work(s) and willingness to share. Your language is simple, to the point, and definitely food for thought

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on January 06, 2011:

amybradley77- thank you for your kind words. In fact, there are a whole series of psychology - just click on the tag shazwellyn psychology and you will see them all :)

amybradley77 on January 05, 2011:

This is such great work, I really enjoyed it. You have some very good ideas, I will be watching for more of your work here. A.B.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on November 30, 2010:

Choosing to be happy - yes.. fulfillment - definitely! Thanks trimar!

trimar7 from New York on November 29, 2010:

Great hub - essentially happiness is a choice!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on November 27, 2010:

James Hillman really does look into the realms of archetypal psychology and I try not bring these ideas into my psychology 101 articles. I try and keep these strictly as measurable as possible formulated around the psychology definition.

I am glad you have mentioned these, Marie-Louise Von Franz is to Jung as Anna Freud is to Sigmund. As you will find with my understanding of the I Ching and many other articles, you can see where I am coming from. It is indeed a numbers game, isn't it?

However, you might understand by some of my 'philosophy' articles, that there are some context there.

I hope this makes sense to you - I need my psychology articles to be as objective and measured as possible, rather than subjective. Lots of these ways to anaylise has been well established in health and social welfare and are used today.

earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on November 26, 2010:

Hi Shazwellin, yes I am aware of Jung's background, in truth I am one of the few people I know who has read all of Jung. My knowledge of Freud's original work is limited though. In fact to be fair, probably limited by Jung's slightly jaundiced view of him!

I have enjoyed Peter O"Connors work even though he sees me as a "character" and I see him as a bit of an old fuddy-duddy!

Nice chatting to you, Peter lectures in America so he should be pretty findable.

I also enjoyed the work of Von Franz very much and am currently re-reading Hillman.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on November 26, 2010:

Hi Earnest - I too love Carl Jung (he was a student of Freud, you know! And I am a bit of a Freudian, myself!). Yes, I have come across a lot about male mid-life crisis and will take a deeper investigation in this before I write about it.

Glad to see you have your's in remission - but then if you are aware of it, then you can anaylise the signs and help yourself.

Thanks for stopping by and I will take a look at Peter O'Connor - his name doesn't seem to have popped up on my Open University course - either that or I have forgotten (been a few years since the degree! lol)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on November 26, 2010:

kjjoke - Thank you. Take a look at my hubs on on page optimization - I think this will help you. Your content and writing is good though, so a great start.

Take your hubs to the forum 'extreme hub makeover' for more advice from the community and ensure that you get an avatar picture for people to identify with.

I hope this helps :)

earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on November 25, 2010:

Very nice hub shazwellyn. I am a post Jungian with an interest in the male mid life crisis. (My own is thankfully in remission!)

Have you written about mid life issues for men?

An Australian psychologist I know, Peter O'Connor has written some excellent books on the subject.

Kjjoker from Georgia on November 25, 2010:

Could you read my hubs? I'm trying to get myself started, and thanks :)

It makes sense, but i disagree with the triangle to some degree. I believe anyone can achieve happiness as long as they are aware.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on November 06, 2010:

Happyboomernurse - This is a well established principal which I am sure you will know . Thanks for stopping by :)

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 31, 2010:

Another well written hub, Shazwellyn. I gave it a thumbs up!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on October 26, 2010:

Lady E - Ask a dying millionaire if he would trade in all his money for more of life and see what they say!

Achieving a sense of achievement, a good self esteem, is what makes people happy. Enjoy the journey my dear lady! :)

Elena from London, UK on October 25, 2010:

Very interesting read - I have always believed that only money can't make you happy. There are deeper things. That's why some people who are rolling in the money still commit suicide. Thanks for sharing.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on May 17, 2010:

Rafini... it is about consistancy again. If you feel consistantly unsafe, for example.

The hierarchy is a ladder... jumping from step 2 of the base needs directly to self actualisation doesn't happen unless the upper hierarchies are in psychologically in place.

The depression issue is a whole another hub really. I am promoting 60dc at the moment, but will definitely be returning to this.

Always a pleasure and never a chore my dear Rafini! :)

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on May 17, 2010:

Hi again! (don't you just love my visits? lol)

My issues with this Hierarchy are as follows:

Relief from worry does not equal happiness. Relief is relief.

----you might not feel safe for a time (so limits the possibility of self actualisation) and then, as problems are solved (albeit temporarily sometimes) you climb the ladder again----

A woman in fear of her husband attempting vehicular manslaughter, due to her telling him she wants a divorce, flees down a country road at 80 mph.

According to the hierarchy the fear she felt would have kept her from achieving the self-actualization (motivation) which caused her to flee (want a divorce) in the first place!


So, depression is a stage in dealing with emotional transition? I don't get that, when it's an illness. Feeling depressed I can understand because feeling depressed isn't the same as being depressed. Are there categorical triggers to depression? My understanding is each individual needs to discover for themselves what their own trigger is because nobody else can. Thanks for the Omega tip! I'll be checking into it.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on May 10, 2010:

Rafini... no self actualisation isn't formulated on the action of others... it is about your actions, your personal goals and your achievements. It is you that knows your limitations and it is you that can truly feel proud of achieving a goal which you have found challenging - not what others have set for you, but what you have set for yourself! This is what counts.

Like a ladder, you achieve self actualisation, then you drop down for a time, achieve for a time, you might not feel safe for a time (so limits the possibility of self actualisation) and then, as problems are solved (albeit temporarily sometimes) you climb the ladder again.

The whole principal of maslow is that you are not a passive recipiant, you are an active empowerer of you. The model is designed to help you understand and assess at what point you are so as you can aim for higher.

So, how can you be happy (or achieve self actualisation) if you are homeless, for example. Looking at the model, you would identify that in order for you to aim TOWARD self actualisation, you need to have a roof over your head. This is a basic human need. It isn't a perfect situation to study in, if you are homeless now is it? You will then know that getting a home is priority. Once you have got this, you can then start establishing relationships (network of acquaintances, colleuges, etc).

Maslows hierarchy is a model to help people assess their lives with a view of becoming more contented. This is why health and social welfare services use this as a primary starting point for assessments.

Maslow states that we climb a ladder - we achieve self actualization, then we drop down a stage. It is fluid and not constant.

Now depression... You need to look at my hub on grief and bereavement. It is one of the stages of dealing with emotional transition. Yes, it is normal for people to suffer depression and can have phases of happiness.


Depression is an illness that can be measured in physical terms. Seretonin gets blocked in the fireing process of the synapses of the brain. The happy hormone cant make its way to other parts of the brain - it gets stuck. This is called reuptake. There are lots of triggers to depression that I cant answer here - it is too great a subject, but sometimes this hormone does get through giving a lift.

A good tip to help... omega 3 and 5 - helps to lubricate the synapes, thereby assist with firing the seratonin. Secondly, prozac does this only more effectively. Only, it tends to have an amphetamin effect which doesn't assist with sleeping.

I guess that I will have to do a hub on depression eh?

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on May 09, 2010:

Hey! I came right over for a review. :D

I still don't understand how the overall view of someone else's life can provide clues to my potential happiness. It doesn't make sense at all. For one thing, I have a different personality - different things will make me happy or unhappy.

If I take an honest look at my life, which I do quite often, (lol) I would have to say I go from the bottom (physiological) to the top (self-actualization) on a regular basis with only an occasional stop in the level of esteem. My life doesn't touch the other levels. How can I possibly reach self-actualization that way? It doesn't make sense, still. I still say the hierarchy of needs is claiming happiness, self-actualization, fulfillment, and/or success are dependent on the actions of others. I choose not to live my life that way. I choose to find my happiness from within.

(btw - does psychology explain how someone suffering from depression can still feel happiness? - this was quite the surprise when it happened to me!)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 22, 2010:

Seraphim11 - good luck to you - read and write - watch and observe :)

seraphim11 on April 22, 2010:

Psychology has always been a part of my life ever since I was a little girl. Analyzing is something I am naturally good at. I aspire one day to become a psychologist. Thank you!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 13, 2010:

TattoGuy.. Thanks, that is really kind of you! :)

TattoGuy on April 13, 2010:

Enjoyed that hub, made me all happy and jeeez yer lil logo at the end even made me give ya the thumbs up lol ; )

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 12, 2010:

Thank you Pamela, you are very kind. I hope it might come in useful to you and yours:)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 12, 2010:

Shaz, this is a very thought provoking hub and you obviously did a lot of research. Thumbs up!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 12, 2010:

SiddSingh... Good point. But if you didn't feel hungry and you had warmth, light, roof and no worries of this being taken from you... that you weren't threatened and had a good balanced diet... it would increase the LIKELYHOOD of making friends... which will increase the likelyhood of finding a mate which will increase the likelyhood of feeling good about yourself which, in turn increase the likelyhood of personal expression (being creative, self development). Do you get my gist?

Nice you stopped by taking the debate further:)

SiddSingh on April 12, 2010:

Hmm. I don't think I was quite clear in what I commented. My point was about UNHAPPINESS stemming from non-fulfillment of desires.

There is another theory (I don't remember which one) which says that certain needs, when UN-fulfilled, lead to happiness, but their does NOT lead to happiness.

For example, I have a full stomach. Does that make me really very happy? I don't think so. I have a roof over my head. Do I feel happy because of that? I doubt.

But if I have to go hungry for two days, or if I have to sleep in the open, I will CERTAINLY be very, very unhappy.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 12, 2010:

Thank you for popping by Barry. His theory is the basis of much health and social welfare all over the world even today.


shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 12, 2010:

Pretty... The beauty of Maslow is that basic need is cross cultural. That is to say that everyone needs food, shelter from the elements and feeling safe, for example. Self actualization is relative. That is to say, that one can feel an achievement in fishing when hooking that highly prized rare fish, for example, as the Director of a Corporate business acquiring that highly prized contract. It isn't about what an onlooker perceives as achievement, it is what the individual feels. This is self actualization. Remember this is just an example and the external factors that trigger self actualization differs from person to person.

Thanks for your comment Pretty... it has given me the opportunity to clear the cultural implications. Well done! :)

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on April 11, 2010:

Love the old Maslow heirachy of needs. ! did psychology 101 in 1986 and remember him well. Great hub !

prettydarkhorse from US on April 11, 2010:

well researched hub Shaz and Maslow generally said that in order for you to achieve the higher level in the hierarchy, - such as happiness, basic needs should be met. But then my friend basic need is different everywhere hehe. Don't get me wrong as I also live in the Western world, but then in Asia where I came from, needs as are as basic indeed, great hub, Maita

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

SiddSingh... do you think Maslow was talking about worldly desires or do you think he was talking in terms of basic need? I mean... even a Buddhist or Seikh needs shelter from the sun or rain? They need to feel 'safe' to meditate and pray. What about pure love, unconditional love? Are these 'worldly desires'? Don't you think there is a difference or is this down to the individual perspective of need?

His idea of need is electricity, health, roof over head, feeling safe, being a member of the community, helping others (relationships, friends, family), love (unconditional to give and receive), creativity etc etc... I think he is probably leaning more toward the Indian 'spiritual' philosophy than worldly desires. He doesn't mention about accummulation of wealth, power and fornication.

The only sticking ground is the 'need' for sex and what he meant by that was 'horny feelings' (lol) and satisfaction. Of course some people choose not to succumb to those feelings, others relieve, whilst some don't feel this way for... whatever reason (depression, diabetes, health probs etc). I am sorry but I cant see a reference to worldy desires from Maslow.

Hey, but if you can, let me know more:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Mike... such words of wisdom. If we treat theories like a piece of advice from a friend, we can take it or leave it. The most important thing is that we make the most of it and are content within ourselves. Maslow is regarded as the spiritual father of psychology... I wonder where he got his ideas from? Life is for living and happiness, ultimately, comes from within.:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Breakfastpop... something for you to mull over with your waffles and maple syrup! I loved your article on Hmrjm1. Great stuff!:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Sage Williams. It is always an honour seeing you here. I thank you for your support!:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Rafini.. Im glad you came back. Im not sure that Maslow was basing his theories on the actions of people around 'the client'. I think he was saying that in order to touch on 'self actualization' (which isnt constant but occassional), other issues in life have to have a place. He did state that during periods of our lives, we will climb the ladder upwards and, at other times, climb down the ladder. This is, I think, the natural highs and lows of lifes challenges and environmental issues. These challenges, therefore, have a marked effect of our psychies. There will be times that we are ready for a meaningful relationship and other times that we arent. This might be because we have to put other things in order first. For an EXTREME example... the flourish of love (perhaps new relationship?), nesting etc, has a lesser chance of happening when people have been diagnosed with a death sentence (see 'health' under 'safety' base hierarchy).

A lesser example.... how many people do you know 'fall in love' when they are in the full throws of the flu?

I think Maslow meant that with the right conditions, other things can follow - like feeling safe, will help us grow whereas not feeling safe, makes us withdrawn.

I hope this has helped.

Yes Maslow's Hierarchy is out of date, but many theories are based on his hierarchy of needs. The nursing profession I know still works on his formula - it forms baseline assessments in a practical sense. Social working involves his ideas too.

All science is formulated and built upon from other hypothesis. Science is a changing and evolving thing and this is the same with psychology.

Great comments though Rafini!!!:)

SiddSingh on April 11, 2010:

Hi Shaz,

Great, well-written hub, and a great refresher on the Maslow's needs - hierarchy theory!

On the flip side, there is a particular theory in Indian philosophy that says unhappiness stems from relentless pursuit of desires, because all desires cannot be fulfilled. Therefore, to be truly happy, you have get rid of all worldly desires! Very un-Maslow like, i would say! And very tough to attain that state too!

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Billy... Thank you. It is really important to think about concepts and theories. We can take what we feel is right for us and make good of our lives. Thanks for stopping by:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2010:

Thank you Marisa:) I think that Maslow was trying to say a bit of this in 'self actualization'. This happens intermittantly and is not constant - the feeling of self achievement where a challenge to the self has been stretched and a personal goal. I think this is what he meant.

The persuit of happiness is interesting. Maybe we all think we should be happy all of the time... but how do we know happiness if we haven't gone through unhappiness? If we attempt to be happy all of the time, then perhaps we change the goal posts and what makes us happy now, if this is constant, we no longer 'think' we are happy in the future? Therefore, perhaps happiness is relative?! I remember something from my courses on pursuit.

The subject you propose will take a lot of evidence research. I will think back and check my old notes and see what there is.

Thanks for the suggestion... I will put my thinking cap on.:)

Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on April 11, 2010:

Shaz, this was great info and brought me back to my college days of taking psychology classes. I tend to buy into Maslow--I think the idea is sound that fundamental needs associated with basic survival must be met first, and then our focus moves to more fulfilling agenda.

I don't base my happiness on other people, but I do think we need people to be truly fulfilled. (Maybe I can go to the mountain top and come back 30 years later announcing that I've solved the world's problems, but I doubt that I can.) I think we need human interaction and touch to be happy, and I don't think we can be truly happy if we don't get these things.

As we used to say when I was a teenager, "happiness is a warm fuzzy." (Back then, that was a hug.)

Thanks, Shaz!


breakfastpop on April 11, 2010:

Terrific and thought provoking hub.

Sage Williams on April 10, 2010:

Shaz, What a terrific hub, Abraham Maslow has always been one of my favorite individuals. I have always been intrigued with self actualization and the hierarchy of needs. Good Luck on your challenge!

You did an awesome job on writing this hub. Bookmarked and rated up!


Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on April 10, 2010:

Hiya, shaz. I'm back - just had to check your response. :)

Anyway, I was thinking more about this happiness issue. The studies of Maslow, which you based this hub on, are from 1970 & 1971 and in my opinion are outdated. I have been through much in my life where I ended up learning, as an adult, to not base my happiness on the actions of others - the exact opposite of Maslows research findings - and which I found I had done prior to my marriage.

If you base your happiness on the actions of others your happiness is doomed to fall apart as soon as the other person(s) is no longer (or seems not to be) happy with you. If you acknowledge your own happiness as a state of mind that you alone are able to control you will be far more content with your life than someone who bases their happiness on the actions of others.

I would also say, that if Maslows theories were correct there would not be anyone capable of overcoming great odds in order to achieve success. (think Michael Jackson & Oprah Winfrey)

billyaustindillon on April 10, 2010:

Excellent hub - the hierarchy of needs is very telling. There are many theories, many plainly play with others happiness or are the basis of very unhappy people's ideals! You did get the debate going - great stuff.

Kate Swanson from Sydney on April 10, 2010:

I've read about this theory before. I think what's more interesting is the whole concept of "the pursuit of happiness". I read a fascinating article recently which said that unlike earlier generations, we've all been brought up to think we're capable of being happy if we do things right, and we make ourselves unhappy worrying about the fact that we're not perfectly happy! And if something happens to make us unhappy, we don't accept that it's OK to be unhappy sometimes - we dash off and get anti-depressants. Maybe another related Hub idea in that?

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Thank you Amber... It is an experiment - providing quality content takes time and lots of hard work! I am enjoying the team effort though:)

Glad the article provoked some thought. That is the idea!! Thanks for dropping by:)

Amber Allen on April 10, 2010:

A very thought provoking Shaz - rated up. I'm closely watching the 60DCers. Good Luck!


shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Redelf... thank you for popping by. You said 'Who was it that spoke of the tragedy of an unexamined life?' I can not agree with you more! Debate keeps us fresh and open to new enquiry. However, what I have tried to do with this article, is write it purely from evidence, rather than subjective. The truth is... well, no one can really know the truth, ultimately :)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Rafini.. I am glad that it has provoked debate. Many scientists debate many things. I am glad you disagree - what is life without agreements or disagreements? All science is formulated on evidence, but evidence is only evidence until some 'other' evidence comes along and superceeds this.

Maslow has been acknowledged for his work all over the world. What is important is that you feel happy, however. That is all that matters and if you aren't happy, then to question why (or not?! If you choose). This is your journey through enlightenment and it is, ultimately, you that will achieve it. No one else. It is your personal journey and to condemn anyone or tell them what to do is wrong. However, one can take or leave information, that is the right of everyone to choose.

I am really glad you have dropped by and added to the debate. That is what helps the world, and people within it, to become a better place:)

RedElf from Canada on April 10, 2010:

My goodness, this is a comment provoking article ;) - well done, shaz. Who was it that spoke of the tragedy of an unexamined life? Anyway, I found this thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thanks, and good lick with the 60 day challenge!

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on April 10, 2010:

Okay, so now you are talking about masterbation to satisfy the basic human need for sex - that this hierarchy seems to be saying is valid truth. Again, I disagree. Masterbation does nothing for me, it has to be real sex with a man in order for me to feel satisfied - but I don't feel I have to have sex in order to climb up the pyramid, or to be happy.

The disagreement I have is with the conclusions from Maslow and any psycho-babble telling me what I 'need' in order to 'be' whatever it is they say I should want to 'be'.

(ie: I need to have sex in order to feel safe in my employment which will then translate into sexual intimacy in order for me to achieve morality or creativity)

I have a few more things to say about Maslow, or anyone for that matter, who tries to tell me what I need to be happy. I am capable of deciding for myself.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Rafini... I think it is about satisfying basic human need. Sex - as in base instinctual desires. Sex can be satisfied outside of relationship and it doesn't have to be satisfied with the co operation of another. It is about satisfying feelings of sexuality. Sex can be performed and the need, therefore, satisfied. Don't be confused with sexual gratification and love.

If, however, the desire for sex is not prevailant. This provide indications of something else going on. Self actualization, therefore, may not be achieved because there is a medical reason for this - depression, drug side effects, diabetes - I cant say on an individual basis, but if there isn't a desire for sex, it is worth seeking further medical advice.

Some people choose to abstain from sex - that doesn't mean that the desire isn't there... this is a choice thing and shouldn't affect self actualization.

Remember this is an article and the finer details should be referred to source - i.e. the books I have recommended, particularly Maslow's book - 'toward a psychology of being'.

I hope this helps put things into perspective:)

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on April 10, 2010:

I don't know about this one....I have a problem with anyone telling me I have to have sex in order to be happy. Not that I don't enjoy sex, cuz I do, but I doubt I will ever again have a long-term relationship where I will be able to freely have sex. So, according to the hierarchy, I will never again be happy? BS, if you ask me.

Interesting hub, though. :)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Thank you Green. I think that maslow clicked onto the mystic way, actually. It is about loving yourself, fulfillment and prioritising.

World peace - yes, everyone has a right to a roof, sanitation, food, warmth, comfort. People want to be empowered .... not oppressed. We talk the same thing Green:)

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on April 10, 2010:

Thanks for introducing me to Maslow. I too believe it's not really possible to achieve happiness when people's basic needs are not present. It's the main component for world peace. Hopefully the sentiment will catch on. Here's to Self-Actualization! Nicely done shaz.

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Thank you Jayjay... Keep happy!

jayjay40 from Bristol England on April 10, 2010:

Very interesting hub, a great read

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Ann... It is always good to see you. Thanks for visiting and glad you liked it:)

shazwellyn (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2010:

Wavegirl... thanks - great you visited!:)

Ann Nonymous from Virginia on April 09, 2010:

Very profound Shaz, and two thumbs up!

Shari from New York, NY on April 09, 2010:

Nice Borders Shaz to complete this excellent Hub! I gave it the big thumb up:)))) WTG!

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