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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Busy Is As Busy Does

I’ve become very proficient at not-doing. I don’t like that I’m good at it, but know very well that I can come up with a seemingly logical explanation to put something off, or simply get out or something altogether, under the guise of being busy. I’ve also discovered that this is a giant cop-out.

Everyone is busy. There isn’t a person in the world who has nothing to do. If someone tells you they did nothing on the weekend, they’re lying; they, by the laws of existing, did something. Though, whether due to embarrassment, privacy, or an insecure or irrational sense or priorities, it is painstakingly easy — and often reassuring — to talk oneself out of something, rather than indulging.

It is this thought process which I’ve recently grown to employ, and one which I need to stop.

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Life for Dummies: Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Drinks were had; sunsets were watched; discussions were launched; debates were left unsettled. And after everything, the only thing known was that we all knew nothing.

Regarding everyone’s favorite topic when you’re in your, ahem, late 20s — the future — we all disagreed what the next appropriate, proverbial step was. We also all agreed that that is exactly how it should be.

Some were buying houses; some could already claim to be homeowners; others were looking to travel more whereas another had grown frustrated with the status quo and was job hunting. After the arguments had been put-forth, counter-points tendered, and the dust had settled, the consensus was that life doesn’t have a manual; everyone has their own, distinct path.

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