Biz Markie, The Philosopher

Oh baby you, you got what I need
You got everything I need
You’re like medicine to me
Oh baby

A recent discussion with a lady friend led to a seemingly simple question: What do you need?

This question is increasingly difficult as I age. The higher my age, the less things I perceive I need. The more people I date, the more self-reliant I have become. My multitude of first dates has led me to stop looking for fulfillment in my partners in an effort for self-preservation. In my life, I have learned that the only person I can depend on is me. To some extent this is tied into taking responsibility for my own life and my own happiness. Do I want my happiness linked to someone else? My initial thoughts to the question of what I need are the base elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

But I am employed and housed, I don’t need any of the basic elements for survival. Any regular readers of this blog know that I’m set when it comes to food, especially anything that includes a tortilla. But the social and esteem needs are more difficult to request and express needing. The pyramid rapidly shifts from tangible things to abstract concepts or feelings. Like most men, feelings elicit a similar feeling to when the word of the day is uttered on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

How do you tell someone that what you need is to be loved and feel like you belong? That’s a bit harder than saying you need another carton of almond milk.

These greater human needs require vulnerability and trust, but are integral to ascending to the top of the pyramid and pursuing self-actualization. Maslow explained that this process is fluid and ever-changing. The description is similar to the path of enlightenment in Buddhism. Being self-actualized means being aware.

“Human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people as those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of.”

There were a few behaviors Maslow identified that are worth remembering and working toward:

  • Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;
  • Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
  • Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;
  • Avoiding pretense (‘game playing’) and being honest;
  • Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
  • Taking responsibility and working hard;
  • Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.

So as we start this week, let’s take some time to reflect on where we are, what we need, what others need, and where we want to be? Are we doing what we love? Are we the best person we could be?

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