I am a great fan of humanism (i.e. belief in humanity) and one thing that has cropped up in my Psychologist training is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Broken down into five levels, ranging from our physiological needs to self-actualisation, it explains what motivates and fulfils us throughout our lives.

‘I need’ needs: These are the things we need for survival. Food, water, sleep… If we don’t fulfil these needs then we can never progress to meet our higher growth needs. Putting it simply – if we don’t feed ourselves properly or allow ourselves enough sleep then we cannot progress towards self-actualisation i.e. reaching our potential.

‘I want’ needs: These are things that provide us with security,
stability and safety. This includes things like employment, property, family and health. It also involves freedom, so if you are in a job that you feel is trapping you, or a relationship that is holding you back, then this can restrict personal growth.

‘I belong’ needs: These are social aspects of our lives –family,
friends and intimacy. No matter how important these things are to us, we cannot fully experience these social pleasures fully unless we are well fed, well rested, feel safe and secure, and free from fear.

‘I believe’ needs: These involve self-esteem. They include self-respect, recognition, achievement, confidence and independence. This level also involves cognitive needs (knowledge and meaning) and aesthetic needs (appreciation of beauty and the body). The latter is especially interesting…

maybe we can never appreciate the beauty of our own body unless we feed it properly – which puts the entire notion of dieting and calorie restriction to question.

‘I am’ needs: This is about self-actualisation – about reaching
your potential and realising your own worth. There is interesting cross over with yoga here… The whole aim of yoga is to reach ‘samadhi’ – the state of self-realisation or enlightenment. It is only once the ‘I am’ needs are met, can we progress to the Transcendence Needs – helping others to realise their potential – which I believe is the whole goal of life.