Redefining Needs: Maslow, the Reality of Narcissism, and the Impossibility of Self-Actualization

“The majority of people never get there,” he said as he directed our attention to the peak of a self-drawn pyramid on the blackboard. “Most people think they do, but they don’t.”

The “he” in this instance was high school business teacher Mr. Paris. The “our” was a group of approximately thirty grade ten highly-pubescent teenagers, most of whom failed to grasp the importance of such a simple message. More than a decade later, I look back on that introduction to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as one of the most profound lessons of my high school life.

To understand that logic, we must first look back.

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The List

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Gravy shots!

I was speaking with a friend the other day about the lack of pictures the two of us take. This may not seem surprising as we are both male, but living abroad tends to bring out the desire to snap a few more photos than normal. The curiosity, then, is that neither of us has found ourselves to be in that situation even though we both definitely should be.

In terms of our lives abroad, we represent both extremes. He has just arrived to Costa Rica and I am on my way out. With him having less than 30 days in the country and me now finding myself with less than 30 left, the camera should be flashing nonstop.

As he told me of his regret thus far at his small picture count, I gave him some advice that I’m glad someone gave me when I first arrived: take as many pictures as possible. For whatever reason, it’s not in our male nature to take pictures. But now reflecting back over my time here, I’m very glad that I forced myself to take pictures in certain situations. Of course over time that regularity declines to an “only on special occasions” frequency. But in my database of pictures from the last three years, each one represents a story – and I can still remember most of them like they were yesterday.

Inlinguanatti

Los Inlinguanatti en río celeste

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Obamacare is the Rob Ford of Policy

I don’t always watch Fox News, but when I do it’s in a drunken stupor.

Whenever I need a good laugh I turn on the conservative network. Never in the morning, because that’s too much to handle before my first cup of coffee. Never at night either, as that’s not what I want to be thinking about as I go to bed. Also never for more than thirty consecutive minutes, as that becomes simply overwhelming. But for those thirty glorious minutes in the afternoon, Fox News hits the spot.

There’s something to be said for over-the-top, completely ridiculous television. I understand the need for this type of programming – and more importantly the audience it attracts. I also understand logical arguments when I hear them; I don’t often hear these on Fox News. Needless to say, I don’t schedule thirty minutes of my day to be intellectually stimulated. Rather, this blocked off period is for pure amusement.

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Is McDonald’s Hiring?

I remember hearing about white collar and blue collar jobs. I also remember a time when I understood the difference. These days, the distinction is blurred at best.

 If society deems blue collar work as something that entails physical labour and white collar as having a cubical, I suppose the best way to describe my current situation would be collarless. If we extend that metaphor, I think it’s fair to say that all of my endeavors over the last three years have lacked neck protection.

The collars analogy is just an attempt by society to insert a semblance of categorization into the workforce. I know this. But, identifying with a collar allows perspective. Knowing that you fall into one category or another enables you to distinctively see where the line between the two falls – and, in turn, to reflexively be aware what it is about you that makes you belong to one or the other.

But what if you don’t belong to either one?

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Halloween is an Adoration of Satan

Darkness. Evil. Satanism. Anti-Christian. Halloween is a disgusting celebration and culmination of all of these concepts and anyone participating should be condemned immediately.

At least that’s what the protesters I came across last night would have you believe.

These sentiments are not new; every year at this time it’s common to hear these types of thoughts no matter where you are. Perhaps it’s a little more pronounced in Costa Rica, which identifies as being over 95 percent Catholic. But, even then, those that were represented in last night’s protest are definitely the minority.

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Entitlement is a word in English

learning-a-languageBeing a native English speaker makes life easy. It is the international language. It is the language of business. Hollywood produces the world’s most famous films almost exclusively in English. Ditto the music industry. It is the “other” language that the rest of the world must learn out of necessity. If you don’t want to deal with another language as a native English speaker, you don’t have to.

Being a native English speaker also makes you lazy.

Growing up in the English speaking part of Canada, you are forced to take French classes. What you are not forced to do is learn French. The curriculum is bad. The teachers are bad. The students don’t care and there’s really no effort made to ensure that they try to care. Even as immature adolescents we could pick-up on an education system simply going through the motions.

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Central American Buses Aren’t Made for Adult Humans

sneak3_en_googlecalI don’t usually do this. I am a creature of habit and thus like doing things when I say I’ll do them. This is for a few reasons but mainly it’s about organization. Without previously setting aside time to do certain tasks I would let my overwhelmingly best quality to take over: procrastination.

Up until I got my first “real job” a few years ago – though most people still tell me I’ve never had a real job – procrastination was my best skill. I practiced it. I honed it. I got better at it every day. But since I’ve crossed that mythical and mysterious line into adulthood I’ve had to put my most practiced skill on the back burner and start honing my new best skill, though definitely not my favorite, of organization.

I like to know when I’m doing something and for others to know that it will be done by a certain time. Google Calendar has really helped me with this and I can attribute much of my organizational skills to that. If you don’t use Google Calendar, you really should. *This is not an advertisement for Google. But if Google is reading (whoever that is) I’m not not listening. *

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Canadian Thanksgiving

DSCF1628Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For as long as I can remember it has been this way and even today I’m not entirely sure why. That is, I know why I like it; I’m just not sure why I rate it above other holidays that I am also fond of.

Christmas is great because everyone gets together who may not see each other on a regular basis. The food is rich and plentiful, the weather crisp and laughs abundant. With houses lit up, homes decorated and a general sense of calm, Christmas is an easy choice for favorite holiday.

Except it’s also very planned. Over organization and its structured nature, in addition to it being a big day on the calendar, are reasons why I think it’s not number one. Easter has become more of a vacation holiday than a celebratory one. New Year’s Eve is usually a letdown. St. Patrick’s Day, aside from not being a “real” holiday – despite what my opinionated Irish friends would tell you – is certainly fun, but cannot be taken seriously as a holiday preference.

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Trimming the Fat

Updating your resume should be a quarterly exercise. It’s a document that has remained relevant in society – and will likely remain that way – in spite of the booming nature of the innumerable social media options that now occupy our every waking second.

If you’re applying for a job you’re going to need a resume. A real sharp LinkedIn profile – while definitely impressive to bring up on the iPad at your high school reunion – just doesn’t cut it. This is not to suggest that social media isn’t important; it can certainly help in losing a potential position. It just won’t win you one.

It all comes back to the resume. Not having one still isn’t an option in terms of job applications.

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Hand-Me-Downs

I’m the eldest of two children; my younger brother is three years younger than me. Though the difference in years isn’t stark, the difference in experiences growing up certainly is.

Case in point can be seen with the ever infamous “hand-me-downs.” As the older sibling you’re always giving things away and as the younger sibling you’re always receiving them. The funny thing about hand-me-downs is that neither party is entirely pleased with the process.

The older sibling never really wants to completely relinquish that item they’ve grown attached to even though they know they have no more use for it. The younger sibling would prefer something new rather than worn. Being the elder in this scenario, I was always told when it was time to give that sweater to my brother; when it doesn’t fit anymore it’s time to move on. Seems fairly obvious.

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