Maslow, needs/wants, & stuff

I spent this morning thinking about human history, stuff, wants/needs and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow’s bottom layer is what we all have to have to live, the basics, food, warmth, shelter, breathing, excrement, etc. Our amoeba-like layer.

The 2nd layer (safety), the 3rd (love/belonging), the 4th (esteem) and the 5th (self-actualization) all contain elements that somehow I missed/didn’t get. If I believe, and I do, that the only piece in the game you control is yourself, then what are the pieces of Maslow that I can’t control?

Layer 2: resources/family
Layer 3: friendship, family, sexual intimacy (entire layer)
Layer 4: respect by others

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a triangle from Wiki Commons

Surprise, surprise! These are where I’ve always had issues.

How does this relate to stuff? I realized that a lot of my stuff is either to hide that I’m not self-actualized, remove me from my “now” to rest, or an attempt to become self-actualized via stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time/effort/$ trying to pull myself up through those layers, frequently by acquiring “stuff” to either make me feel like I was at the top layer or I thought the stuff would get me there

In our caveman days, in fact for a lot of human history, we were focused on fulfilling that bottom layer, and counted ourselves lucky if we could. What would a caveman do with an Ipad? Nothing. He couldn’t eat it, it wouldn’t communicate anything to him and he couldn’t use it to kill something to eat or another male to get their female. To him it would just be a weird rock.

Human culture is built upon people inventing stuff they convinced others they “needed” in order to live. If I apply Maslow to the piece of stuff like an Ipad, it could change how I perceive stuff perhaps? I’m a member of the baby boomers, born in the middle 50s. We were culturally taught we needed bigger, better, newer, smarter and MORE stuff. But do we? Do I?

The reason this came up is because I’ve been thinking I might buy a Silhouette Cameo machine. I’m torn. What I could do with it is wonderful, yes, but I haven’t actually managed to make any money on my cards/tags, etc, yet. So is this a $300 a leap of faith into my new career or yet another thing that I think I “need” I really don’t? Would it actually make the creative urge to make cards/posters into products faster? Better? Or would it become yet another piece of unused stuff?

One of my long-term projects, including a book, is a kitchen organization system. I have the book designed, I have a lot of data. I have a lot of recipes. I’ve designed the system three times! I have a library card catalog and cards, have a Rolodex file and cards, and have a data base. But I still don’t have that kitchen organization system.

Couldn’t one of our old computers become my kitchen computer? What I want doesn’t require instant throughput, Windows, the internet or anything fancy. I realized that because what I see in my mind’s eye is a flat panel monitor on the kitchen table I’ve held out thinking I “need” a modern computer using a flat panel. I don’t.

The card catalog is being used for kitchen storage, so it’s useful, but the rest of it (catalog cards, Rolodex file, Rolodex cards) is simply being stored. And, I have a typewriter. I could just type the Rolodex or library cards, I don’t need a modern computer for the kitchen files at all. In some ways, yes, it would help, but I don’t “need” it.

Typing the data into a modern computer is as much work as typing it onto a card using a typewriter. The only real difference is that I can make a template, reuse some words, etc. But even that doesn’t require a newer computer, I could use the older ones we already own.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll buy the Silhouette nor what I’ll do for the kitchen organization. But they’re on a single continuum now, and before I would have seen them as unrelated.

I suppose that’s progress of a sort? Changing my thinking is almost always the first step in changing my behavior.



5 responses to “Maslow, needs/wants, & stuff

  1. That is some serious thought processes. I do see where you are coming from. You have given me lots to think about!

  2. Beth,

    I guess I did my job then? I dunno. This was written mostly as a way for me to think it out. I got up with some of this whirling around in my brain. I opened a text page and started writing, while drinking my first cup of coffee, to try and sort out my thoughts.


  3. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – is the same damn thing I have often used to sort out my mind. Sometimes it is creepy how similar we are! The hierachy helps me sort out responses to others more & more. I have been using it lately to sort out who needs me, and how they effect me. I don’t need to be on call for some people they are adults & can tend their own basic needs…It is helping me sort out some of my caretaker issues. Maybe we will hit self-actualized, yet!!!

  4. Maybe so! Yes, you’re right, it IS kind of creepy sometimes how similar we are. ((hugs)) cuz–


  5. Pingback: More Thoughts on the Cooking Plan « teacupofwater

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