Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Your 101 on Human Self-Actualization

loving-lifeDo you love, love, LOVE your life? How would you like a guide to getting you there?

Blueprints, charts and roadmaps are helpful tools for organizing information to get you from point A to point B. When it comes to Human Psychology, and the deep self-inquiry questions (i.e. “What the heck am I doing here?”) one of my favorite go-to-tools is Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was an American Psychologist and considered one of the founders of “Humanist Psychology.” Instead of studying the neurotic and unsound minds of the mentally challenged, like many of his contemporaries, Maslow approached psychology from “How do healthy minds develop?”  And he zeroed in on the shared characteristics of extraordinary leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, William James and Albert Schweitzer.

What the culimination of Maslow’s work offers you, is an organized way of making sense of your own growth potential.


Maslow presented five levels of “Needs.” The first four are “deficit” needs, meaning if you do not have the need met you will be motivated to fulfill it. These first four levels are:

(1)   Physiological Needs – Your basic need for air, warmth, food, sleep, stimulation and activity.  Without these your growth is stunted and/or you die.  (A stark reality, that some humans face daily.)

(2)   Safety Needs – Your need for personal and physical safety, a sense of security and protection from harm.

(3)   Love and Belongingness Needs – Your need for love, friendship and community belonging.

(4)   Esteem Needs – Your need for self respect, personal worth, autonomy.

The next and highest level  in Maslow’s theory is considered a growth or “being need.”

(5)  Self-Actualization Need – Unlike the first four levels, your “need” to reach your full potential does not come from any lack, but  from a desire to grow as a person.  At this level  you have a healthy, functioning personality and are reaching to unleash your “best self” and  live your “purpose.”

Some individuals will never move into the level of “Self Actualization,” but spend a lifetime in the maze of meeting needs 1 thru 4. If you are reading this, then chances are you are on the “Road Less Traveled and reaching to unleash your best self through a life of self-development, meaning and purpose.

What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization…This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” – Abraham Maslow

Ready to Fly?

Read : “Your Check List to Self-Actualization”

(c) Heather Gray 2009

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