One of the inspirations behind my brand name TRANSCENDENCE: Living a Life of Meaning was the final version of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (Click here for my Brand Story)
Many of you may be familiar with the earlier version which had five tiers of needs:
- Tier 1 (Lowest-Level Need): Physiological or Survival – Food, water, shelter, the basics of life.
- Tier 2: Safety – The feeling of being protected and secure from dangers like weather, predators, financial ruin, etc.
- Tier 3: Love and Belonging – Humans need to feel loved and connected to family, the tribe, or some group which provide love, support and comfort.
- Tier 4: Esteem/Respect – People need to feel respected and recognized by others for their contribution. They also need to develop self-esteem for their competences and achievements.
- Tier 5: (Initial Highest-Level Need): Self-Actualization – Originally set as the highest needs, this is where humans could truly grow, seeking for things like happiness, higher level skills, fulfilling life dreams, and so on.
Maslow theorized that people could only evolve to higher levels of being if their lower needs were met, although he acknowledged that this isn’t absolute. For instance, love and belonging aren’t as important as safety. If you don’t feel safe, you’re less likely to seek out and require love and belonging (even though those things often contribute to our feelings of safety.)
What many people don’t know is that Maslow added a sixth and higher tier to his hierarchy later in life.
That tier is called Self-Transcendence, the need to look beyond the boundaries of oneself. In this tier, we recognize the intrinsic interconnectedness of humans, of life.
Maslow called this tier “the highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness”. Transcendence is where we develop our need for meaning and purpose in our lives.
So, from which tier are you operating in your life? If you listen to the media day in and day out, you’d think we were all living in Tiers 1 and 2. Afraid for our very survival, for our safety. It’s one of the reasons that I limit my intake of news every day. I don’t need to have my fear button pushed all the time.
Because there’s no room for Transcendence at those levels. There’s no room for Transcendence in fear.
You can shift the Tier or Level of the pyramid you’re on by tapping into that highest level of consciousness. What could you accomplish if you did?
*Maslow, A.F. (1971). The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4)
Maslow, A. H. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin.