There comes a time in our life when we ask ourselves, “what is the meaning of life?”
For hundreds of years, this very question has been recycled, and with it, various answers. The answer to this question can be broad and also narrow. Some may claim the meaning of life to be finding love, some might argue that the meaning of life is to work hard. There is one view that has been revisited countless times – that the meaning of life is the pursuit of happiness.
But what exactly is happiness?
Happiness is an emotional state that we all seek to achieve and maintain.
Sometimes it feels like no matter how much we try, something is lacking. We may try and try, but we sometimes fall short of the peak of the happiness summit. Usually in these circumstances we look inwards and blame our personality, or we blame the external world for our lack of happiness.
So how do we discover and achieve happiness?
In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed his self titled Hierarchy of Needs, a 5 step pyramid structure that allows individuals to become self-actualised, in other words, discover happiness. In order to achieve happiness according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one must meet the needs starting from the bottom of the pyramid and making their way to the top.
At the very bottom of the pyramid lies physiological needs. Such needs include the need for food, water, sleep, breathing, and homeostasis. Safety needs follow physiological needs. These needs take the form of security of body, employment, resources, family, health, and property.
Following safety needs is the need for love and the sense of belonging, from family, friends and romantic partners. The need for esteem in the form of self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect of and by others comes next.
The final need that sits at the top of the pyramid is morality, creativity, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, problem solving, and spontaneity. Once an individual meets all these needs they become self-actualised and consequently can truly discover and indulge in happiness.
The formula to discovering happiness is simple – give your body and mind what they need, and you will find true happiness.