Tag Archives: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Atlas Shrugged – A Companion Book (Part 5)

Once the character, John Galt mentioned in my previous post, is introduced to the reader, the author describes him numerous times as “a man untouched by pain or fear or guilt.”  This is the same description of those found in Gallery Seven of my book.  They have reached Maslow’s self-actualization, a level in which there are no further human needs or desires.  It is a level dominated by peak experiences in which pain, fear, and guilt no longer exist.  But getting to this highest level of human achievement takes a lifetime of striving requiring the passage from Gallery One to Gallery Six and finally, with the help of others, the crossing to Gallery Seven.

In addition, John Galt is the one character who is able to exist both in the everyday world as well as the spiritual world.  In other words, John Galt is able to live and work for years in the everyday world, the world that is collapsing, and the spiritual world – the world that he created for the others in Gallery Six, a world that is self-sustaining.  This spiritual world is a world of cardinal virtues, hard work, and self-determination.

As mentioned in my book, one of the hallmarks of happiness is the ability to exist in both the everyday world as well as the spiritual world.  Both worlds are needed.  Most people, including most of the characters in the book, exist in the real or everyday world.  In Atlas Shrugged, many individuals also exist in the spiritual world, the world of those found in Gallery Six.  However, it is John Galt, and at the end of the novel those in Gallery Six that cross the threshold to Gallery Seven, who are able to move in both dimensions.  It is the ability to move in both of these spheres that leads to happiness in this life.

More to come!

What is Happiness (Part 4)?

In my previous three post, I mentioned the terms that the ancient philosophers and the modern thinkers teach are required to enter into a state of happiness.  However, once those terms are met, what does true happiness look like.  Let’s begin by looking at the specific teachings of Maslow.  Keep in mind that we are going to be talking about those who have reached the final level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  In other words, people that have no further needs or desires – what I would call a super-human condition.

Maslow was generous in providing a list of characteristics of those individuals who, like Campbell’s master of two worlds or Csikszentmihalyi’s individuals forging a unity with universal values, have reached the final level of human development – happiness.  Maslow characterized those who have achieved this final level – self-actualization, as exhibiting: “1) superior perception of reality, 2) increased acceptance of self, others, and of nature, 3) increased spontaneity, 4) increased problem-centering, 5) increased detachment and desire for privacy, 6) increased autonomy and resistance to enculturation, 7) greater freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reaction, 8) increased identification with the human species, 9) improved interpersonal relations, 10) more democratic character structure, 11) greater creativity, 12) certain changes in the value system, and 13) higher frequency of peak experiences.”

Both Maslow and Csikszentmihalyi wrote that “precious few” people actually reach self-actualization, “Though, in principle, self-actualization is easy, in practice it rarely happens (by my criteria, certainly in less than 1% of the adult population).  For this, there are many reasons at various levels of discourse … humans no longer have strong instincts which tell them unequivocally what to do, when, where, and how.” Campbell speaks of a similar inability of everyday humans to reach the highest levels of human development, “Today, all of these mysteries [myths] have lost their force; their symbols no longer interest our psyche.”

More to come!

Belongingness – Great Art

In several of my previous posts, I presented artworks that best represent the feelings of those that have had their physiological and safety needs met (the first two of Maslow’s needs at the bottom of his Hierarchy of Needs).  As such, they are able to move to the next level, one involving the need for belongingness.

Belongingness involves the desire to be with others in what I call “involvement” activities: clubs, civic groups, churches, hobby groups, family and loved ones, etc.  This need is best satisfied by friendships and the love of family.  It is how we belong as a “member in good standing.”

Below are two paintings, separated by time and class.  Nonetheless, the need for belongingness is being satisfied by all involved.  The feelings expressed in each work are nearly identical.  Even though one set of characters are peasants in a barn and others characters are well-to-do members of society on a boat, the experiences are the same.  These same experiences shared by all give us comfort that this need is universal and satisfied in a universal manner.

The Peasant Wedding by Bruegel

The Peasant Wedding (Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566)







Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir, 1881)