Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

How much do you REALLY need?

Pyramid copyWhen I was younger, I made a vow to myself to try and live a life of moderation in all things. It seemed to be the most logical and healthy way to live out your days, since before I hit the ripe old age of 16 I’d seen an awful lot of people drowning in their own pools of excess (food, substance abuse, relationships, money) and that didn’t seem to be working out very well for them.  In fact, one of the wisest women I’ve ever known, lived to be 107 years old and she attributed longevity to not having too much of anything in your lifetime (including, she said, stress, alcohol or men) and being brutally honest about what you really need.  It seemed like solid information and I took it very seriously and, ultimately, to heart.

Vernon Howard wisely wrote, “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need” and you do have to ask yourself honestly, “How much do you really need?”  Well, I decided to look at “needs” like the whole food and nutrition pyramid.  You know, the one that 50 years ago listed how we should eat from the four basic food groups: milk, meat, fruits & vegetables and grains.  Well, that pyramid has gone through quite a few changes over the decades and my “What I Really Need” pyramid has gone through some changes, too – but, for the most part, the basics have not.

It is said that humans require a pretty simple set of five basic needs to survive and thrive.  A really smart guy by the name of Abraham Maslow came up with what is called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”  Here is a brief version of he says we need:

Physiological Needs – things like breathing (kind of important), food, water, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.

Safety Needs – having a sense of security insofar as employment, resources, morality, family, health and property.

Social Needs – we like to know that we belong, to have affection and love from the people we interact with in our work (or community), our family, friends and romantic relationships.

Esteem Needs – when we have had some kind of achievement in our life, a sense of confidence, independence, self-respect and the respect of others.

Self-Actualization Needs – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts.

Okaaaaaay, then.  That’s pretty complex list of five “basic” things, but I’ve heard it is what we really require to be exemplary human beings.  After all, that Maslow guy admitted to “only studying the healthiest 1%” of subjects he could find to come to that conclusion.  Pretty good role models, as far as I’m concerned (well, that and the glorious 107 year old smartest woman I ever knew).

In addition to Dr. Maslow’s list, I sat down and tried to determine what I felt I really truly need in life —

Peace – an absence of chaos and madness. I like my quiet. Lots and lots of quiet. I truly treasure the still moments of my days and it is what I imagine paradise to be like.

Smiles – few things make me happier than to see a smile on a face. When it’s the face of someone I love, the joy I feel is immeasurable.  And when I can somehow provide the motivation for any lips to lift upward toward the heavens, my heart is filled in a way I cannot adequately express.

Laughter – when smiles spill over into laughter is there any more glorious music on the planet or beyond? It is the true universal language, understood by anyone who hears it.

Compassion – when we can appreciate what another might be going through, by walking (if only for a moment) in their moccasins, we have reached a higher plane of being and I am grateful to have that understanding or to see someone else experience it.  Compassion is a rare and beautiful gift we can give, regardless of the status of our bank accounts.

Those are my four basic mood groups, right there.  That added to Doc Maslow’s list of needs and I think I’m pretty full up, as far as needs go.

There are others that seem to require a whole lot more than that, but Mark Twain (as he often does) summed it up best for me, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”  Like mad, mad squirrels some people gather, collect, store and repeat.  But, I question whether or not they have all that they really need.

They say that you can’t take it with you – but if all I ever needed was all that I ever had, then I think I can walk away from the banquet, quite full (thank you, very much) not needing any more.

xo – t.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” ~ John Muir

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Leave a Reply