Maslow’s Needs: The Keys to Happiness & Fulfillment

Honest question: Do you feel happy and do you feel fulfilled? Today I'm sharing the foundational needs that every human being needs in order to feel fulfilled. It's a concept in psychology called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

If you've studied psychology, you've definitely heard of this before. The hierarchy of needs explains what every human being needs in order to be fulfilled.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (Original)

maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid

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The original pyramid has five levels: Physiological, Safety, Love and Belongingness, Esteem, and Self-Actualization. An expanded version of the pyramid (below) has eight levels, adding on three new needs: Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence. The idea is: you need to have your basic needs met before you can move up to the levels above it and fulfill those needs.

If you want a FREE downloadable worksheet to help you analyze your own needs and feel more fulfilled in life, you can get the worksheet here!

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  1. Physiological
  2. Safety
  3. Love & belongingness
  4. Esteem
  5. Cognitive
  6. Aesthetic
  7. Self-actualization
  8. Transcendence

Physiological Needs

The first level is Physiological needs. We need to have the basic things to survive – food, water, air, shelter – basically anything that you need to survive physically.

Safety Needs

On the second level is our need for Safety, and that translates into feelings of safety, feelings of security, feeling some level of order, predictability, and control in your life.

So financial security would fall under this second level need, the feeling that you don't have to worry about how to pay for your next meal or things like that, because that is a safety concern.

Love & Belongingness Needs

On level three is our need for Love and Belonging. We humans are social creatures. We need to feel loved. We crave love.

So human connection, interpersonal relationships with your family, friends, peers, and just feeling accepted and feeling like you belong.

Esteem Needs

Moving up to the next level, we have our Esteem needs. Self esteem is super important. It's the feeling that you have value in yourself. I would put self worth and self love also in this category.

Another part of esteem would be the desire to be respected, desire to have achieved something, to have other people see your worth.

Self-Actualization Needs

The last level on top is Self-Actualization. That is the level where you are striving to achieve your fullest potential, where you're all about personal growth and doing things because you are motivated to grow.

It's not because you're lacking in any area. It's just because you want to. You want to see how far you can go.

Expanded version of the Hierarchy of Needs

The expanded version of this pyramid includes eight levels, adding three from the original pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (Expanded)

maslow's hierarchy of needs expanded

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Cognitive Needs

After the fourth level of Esteem, the fifth one is Cognitive Needs: the need for knowledge, information, learning, curiosity, exploration.

Knowledge is power. The more knowledge we have, the more confident and certain we are in our life and our choices. A lot of the high achievers I know in my life are thirsty for knowledge. They are curious. They never stop learning. They're always exploring.

Aesthetic Needs

Aesthetic needs are our human need for beauty and form and balance. People naturally want pretty things.

It's not important for everyone, but at a certain point, if you have all the needs below that met – safety, security, self esteem, belonging, if you have all of that – then the next level up above knowledge is Aesthetics.

Transcendence Needs

Transcendence needs are needs that transcend the personal self. They would be spiritual needs, service to others, moving beyond yourself and the material world.

Deficiency Needs vs. Growth Needs

The bottom four needs are called Deficiency Needs and the upper four needs are called Growth Needs.

Deficiency Needs means that you need it. The less you have it, the more you need it. For example, the longer a person goes without food, the hungrier they become. The longer someone goes without love, the more they deeply crave it.

The upper four levels are called Growth Needs, and those needs are motivated by a person's desire to grow, and they're not motivated by a lack of something. It's just the simple desire to have something better to improve from where you are now.

Hierarchy of Needs Worksheet

After learning about the eight levels of Maslow's needs, now you can go into each level and reflect: Are your needs being met? What is lacking? What are you missing?

To get the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Worksheet, you can click here to download it for free!

maslow's hierarchy of needs worksheet

More resources

If you want to learn more about happiness and living a fulfilling life, you can check out these videos:

How much do you really know about yourself?

Discover more about yourself and what you want out of life with this free downloadable list of 30 self reflection journaling prompts.

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