I’m sure many of us have at least heard of Maslow’s Pyramid, or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. His theory stated that whatever people have in life dictates what they strive for. Since this is a psychological subject, though, it is just a theory. As of now this is one of the better explanations for why we react the way we do in response to the stimuli around us.
The way this pyramid works, for example, is that most teenagers in our culture are worried about the friends they make while struggling with their families and/or themselves as a human being. This is because they always have enough food and water, always get “enough” sleep, and feel safe in their home and whatnot. They may not, however, feel comfortable with the friends that they have. If that is the case, more than likely they’ll be more worried about their social status than who they are as a person.
Once a person achieves the first four levels in the pyramid, one can start becoming a “self-actualized” person. This means that, essentially, you are perfectly comfortable with the world around you and the things in your life. If you are confident in your achievements and who you are as a person, perhaps it is an explanation for why you act the way you do when others see things differently.
This could be used as an explanation as to why some people are more anxious than others. Anxiety is a social emotion. You wouldn’t say that a person being hunted by wolves is anxious, after all. (Well, you could, but I certainly would use a different word to describe it. Like terror). When people are talking about anxiety, they are usually referring to situations involving other people. This could mean that they are unconsciously working towards achieving their third or fourth level of the pyramid.
This is also, by no coincidence, where I feel most people in the first world society are. I think that the average person you meet on the streets will be working towards feeling a sense of belonging or improving their self-esteem. It isn’t so apparent as when they were in high school, of course, but achieving self-actualization is by no means an easy task.
So, it is my opinion that the easiest way to “ascend” this pyramid is to primarily identify the problem. Maybe you are terrified of losing your job. Maybe you were rejected by every college you applied to. Whatever may be the case, learning what level of the pyramid one is striving for could make satisfying the demands of that level much easier. If you realize you don’t feel like you belong in the environment you are currently in, that is the first step to changing that.
And if you feel like you actually have achieved self-actualization, maybe it’s time to help somebody else get there, too. Happiness is a thing to be spread, not hoarded. The world already has suffered enough from greed.
So, to recap: make yourself happy, and once you get there, make somebody else happy. Good luck!