Enjoying The Journey
According to Maslow, each level needs to be met first, before moving onto the next one. Physiological needs such as hunger and thirst, motivate us to seek out bread and water. Once these are met, you want to make sure you're safe. In today's world, this could be associated with installing an alarm system into your home. Once these needs are met, we move onto the next, belongingness & love needs. Intimacy, love is something we all need from another human being. After achieving that we can move onto the next, esteem needs. The need to "achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition."
The basic needs must be achieved before moving on to growth. Also, once we achieve these needs and happen to lose them, we will seek them out to gain them back. This is where behavior comes into play. For example, with ancient man in the case of food, if another were to steal his water or meat, he could react with violence. According to Maslow, once the deficiency needs are met, a person is ready for more.
Cognitive level is the need "to know, to understand, and explore." An example of this could be one's desire to attain a higher education or one's desire to better understand their field of work. Any desire to learn, to understand fits this need. If you have a desire to learn how people make clothes or how cars are built, both of these interests can fit the bill. Once this is met, the next level is the need for aesthetics. As humans, we have a desire for beauty. An example here could be a desire to create or be involved with something one considers beautiful. This could mean a wide range of things for different people.
The next level is self-actualization. This is being who you are, being true to yourself. Maslow believed humans are good by nature and if any of our basic needs aren't being meant, one could behave in a dysfunctional manner to achieve their means. For example, being mean to other people to make themselves feel good, to fulfill the esteem need. To surpass the self-actualization level, one must figure out what it is that makes them feel most like themselves. If you didn't have to work to rely on money, what would you do everyday? Identifying that need and taking action on it is the key. Maslow estimated about 10% of Americans were meeting some of their self-actualization needs.
The final level, self-transcendence, is the need "connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential." Eastern philosophy has its own interpretation of this level and it's called enlightenment. Believing there is a universal connection between all of us. This need is also about caring more about others than ourselves and taking time to help people. While there is no empirical evidence to prove Maslow's theory, it is widely accepted by many people. Just as The Celestine Prophecy was labeled "fiction."
The basic needs fulfill short-term gratifications, whereas the growth level needs, create long-term gratification. Long-term pleasure may not be as intense a feeling, say as to inhaling a piece of key lime pie, but it's the kind that will bring true happiness, as it's more meaningful. Therefore, according to Maslow (and I completely agree), happiness lies in learning, experiencing beauty, finding and doing what it is that makes us happiest and helping people.
Inherent happiness that is long-lasting, is what we all truly desire after all. This doesn't mean you never experience sadness or anger; instead seeking and searching for a deep rooted happiness that keeps us on track, throughout the journey.