Everyone wants to live a happy life.But how can we achieve it?How can we be happy in life?
Well, I believe we can find a solution by using a theory in psychology called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.In essence, the theory states that every human being has six needs that should be fulfilled starting from the basic ones.From the bottom to the top, here are the needs:
- Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comfort
- Safety: protection, security, stability
- Belonging: love, family, friends, affection
- Esteem: achieve, gain approval, independence, status
- Self-actualization: realize our potential, self-fulfillment, peak experiences
- Transcendence: help others realize their potential
Living a happy life requires you to meet all these needs.In particular,meeting the top two needs – self-actualization and transcendence – will give youauthentic happiness.Why?Because happiness comes fromcontributingto a cause that matters to you.The more you realize your potential (self-actualization) to help others (transcendence), the more fulfilling your life will be.
There is a problem, though: you are unlikely to meet those two needs if your needs at the lower levels are not met.When you are constantly worried about your physical well being or self-esteem, you can’t focus on realizing your potential to contribute.Therefore, the sooner you meet your lower-level needs, the sooner you can focus on those top two needs.
How can you meet your lower-level needs sooner rather than later?
I believe there is an attitude that can help you tremendously here.If you have it, you will soon meet your lower-level needs.That attitude iscontentment.With contentment, you can meet your lower-level needs sooner rather than later.
Let me explain.A need of yours is met when your current situation is greater than or equal to your expectations.Accordingly, there are two ways to meet a need:
- Improve your situation, or
- Lower your expectation
Many people choose the first option.They keep trying to improve their situation to meet their high expectations.Unfortunately, your expectations rarely stay the same.When you meet someone more “successful” than you, your expectation would increase.What used to be enough is no longer enough.Happiness becomes a moving target.
The better option, I believe, is to lower your expectations.That way your reality can soon reach or even exceed your expectations.You might live just a simple life, but you are happy because your needs are met.
With contentment in place,you can then focus on self-actualization and transcendence.Instead of worrying about status, you can focus on realizing your potential.Instead of trying to keep up with others, you can focus on contributing.You will then live a happy and fulfilling life.