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What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most?

What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most?

When you are going to school, the question everyone asks is, “so, what do you want to do?” Usually you can get away with a quick summation of your major, or explain every tedious detail of your wildest hopes and dreams. No matter what you say though, even if you’re prepared with an answer, that question can feel ominous. What do you want to do? How can we know what we should do, and more, how are we supposed to know if it’s what we need to do? This question far surpasses our education.

We are forced to make choices every day. Some are simple and some feel impossible. But with every choice we make, we are determining what we view as something we want vs. something we need.

Video Summary

There’s a way to know if the choices you make every day are best for you.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow created what would be known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.[1] Maslow theorized that the human brain, being a complex system filled with ever-changing processes and priorities, was constantly motivated by various levels of needs. The Hierarchy would be illustrated in a pyramid shape to easily portray what we needed most and what motivated us the least.

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    Today, the Hierarchy remains a useful framework for sociology research, management training and psychology.

    To make the right choices, identify what you need most first.

    The pyramid suggests that we need all the elements listed, but someare primitive needs (think: physiology and safety) while others have only just become important to the human race (think: social and ego).[2]

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    To break down the needs in the pyramid, the following list will break out the sub categories of each, beginning with the most important and ending with the least important.

    • Physiological: Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
    • Safety: Security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health and property.
    • Love/Belonging: Friendship, family, sexual intimacy.
    • Esteem: Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.
    • Self-Actualization: Morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

    The Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging and Esteem levels of the pyramid are known as ‘deficiency needs.’ If these needs aren’t met, such as eating, drinking and sleeping, then we can’t feel safe physically or mentally. This ultimately impacts our ability to meet the needs we have for friendship and social existence which all leads to a severe blow to our self-esteem. But if we can meet those deficiency needs, then we can begin to conquer self-actualization.

    Not surprisingly, only some people are able to meet these self-actualization needs, as they require honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity and originality. These traits can be challenging to acquire.

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    And what you need most may change throughout your life.

    The five stages presented by Maslow do not all have to happen simultaneously, or even in the same year. In fact, the five stages usually happen throughout the span of someone’s life. For instance, if you are trying to pay off a credit card, but a medical emergency causes you to go into debt, you’ve lost your financial safety, essentially starting you over from the base of the pyramid. But the reverse is true, too.

    People who have not had their needs met in one area might also have their needs from another stage sufficiently met. For example, a person in poor health who has little financial security may be part of a community, have an intimate partner, and maintain close relationships with family and friends. Thus, the person’s safety needs are not adequately met, but community and belonging needs are.[3]

    Maslow created the theory in order to track growth and development in human beings. He started with infants, as it stands to reason their most basic needs are met (food, water, shelter, cleanliness). But Maslow determined the other stages by examining people in all walks and stages of life. He even added a couple more stages later in his life: Cognitive and aesthetic. Finally, Viktor Frankl, a psychologist in the 20th century, added self-transencdence to the hierarchy. This brought the final count to 8.

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      Though we have always made decisions based on needs, whether we considered Maslow or not, knowing more about the Hierarchy can be immensely helpful. Maslow himself assured people that failure to meet certain needs at various stages of life and development could lead to mental health issues and even physical illness. If this sounds dramatic to you, think about it: If you don’t feel safe, you can become anxious and paranoid. If you don’t feel loved or as if you belong, you can become depressed. Lack of self-esteem can lead to the inability to self-actualize and even become suicidal.

      When you understand how needs work, you know how to motivate yourself and others.

      Because the Hierarchy is all about motivation by needs, understanding how it works can help you, not only in your own life, but at work.

      If you are doing a group project or involved in a team or small staff at work, understanding how those around you are motivated can help you understand how to properly communicate with them. The model can help you gain a better understanding of what motivates those around you. This can be helpful in devising a plan to keep your team happy. Remember, assuming everyone is motivated by money is not always the best way to approach something. If economically times are hard, money may not be flowing the way it usually does. In that scenario, it’s important to know how else to keep your team motivated.[4]

      • Provide Resources. If you’re a manager, consider allowing your employees to cross-train, or receive special projects and assignments. If an employee feels especially important, it helps meet their esteem needs.[5]
      • Provide Security. Simple gestures like ensuring an employee has business cards and a meaningful job title can also work wonders when it comes to esteem.
      • Avoid a secretive work place. If an employee feels like they aren’t allowed to know certain aspects about the company or its plans, it can take away their feeling of security. While it is not always a possibility to let your employees know every single detail, try to be open about what you can, and if it’s confidential for a reason, let them know that, too.
      • Be social. Whether you’re a manager or a coworker, don’t act as if no one can speak to you. While a workplace should be professional and not treated as a time for socializing only, it is still important to create a welcoming environment in which employees can speak to each other. This fulfills the social need.
      • Be aware of the choices you make. Every time you make a decision, you are fulfilling some kind of need. Make a note on your smartphone or in you planner of big and small decisions and see where you fit on the Hierarchy. Are you doing things to give yourself financial security? Social? As you become more self-aware, decision making will become easier and also more meaningful.

      So what do you think? Does the Hierarchy make sense to you, or is decision making purely based on your opinions, rather than your needs?

      Reference

      More by this author

      Heather Poole

      Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

      60 Workout Motivation Quotes for Tough Workouts How To Find Your Personal Values For Living a Fulfilling Life The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation!

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      Last Updated on February 11, 2021

      20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

      20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

      Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

      Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

      Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

        If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

        The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

        Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

        There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

        Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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        Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

        Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

        Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

        • The idea for Google -Larry Page
        • Alternating current generator -Tesla
        • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
        • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
        • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

        …and many, many more.

        Fact #4: Premonition dreams

        There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

        You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

        • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
        • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
        • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
        • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

        Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

        Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

        Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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        Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

        In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

        Fact #7: Sexual dreams

        The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

        Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

          Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

          Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

          • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
          • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
          • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

          Fact #9: Dream drug

          There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

          Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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            The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

            Fact #11: Increased brain activity

            You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

            Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

            As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

            Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

            In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

            Fact #13: Pets dream too

              Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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              Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

              Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

              Fact #15: Blind people dream too

              Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

              Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

                It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

                Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

                Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

                Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

                You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

                Fact #19: Gender differences

                Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

                Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

                As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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