20 November 2008

Am I Happy?

On the morning of what is to be, ultimately, three Thanksgiving meals (and none of them actually on Thanksgiving Day), I find it appropriate to ask myself if I'm truly happy.

By all rational accounts, I should be insanely happy. I enjoy good health, as do those around me, I have a good family and a few good friends, a steady job, money in the bank, a wealth of entertainment at my fingertips. I don't own a TV. I have a lovely new life partner, and we've made good steps to building a sustaibale lifestyle in the past few weeks. There's no one dropping bombs on me, curtailing my freedoms in any significant way, taking my home away. I've lost money in the stock market, just like everyone else, but at least I have some savings, and the mentality to save.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs says that humans have five basic levels of need. Each level is dependent on the one below it; you cannot reach for a higher level of need without achieving the one below. You can temporarily regress and place a higher importance on health, for example (say you suddenly get sick), but you don't necessarily have to work back through all the levels to get back to where you were.

It's interesting to look around you and try to figure out where people are. (It's even more interesting to determine what level they lack, but that's mean-spirited.) My father-in-law recently started writing novels and is now published. Could we say that he has attained the fifth level of creative output? Does my growing knitting habit represent a channel of creativity? Am I really the happiest when I'm sewing something?

Around this time of year, it's worth taking a look at this pyramid. I could always have more friends, more security, more confidence, more spontaneity, but overall I'm doing pretty well. Here's to remembering that.

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