Complicated heart

Edit : As a women’s day gift, the nice folks at Blogadda decided to call this post out as a Tangy Tuesday pick after my last one, wait for it, 5 years ago! So thank you very much people, always appreciated!


I hate Maslow.

He made life and human needs and wants seem so straightforward, so simple and so damn believable that all my life, I assumed that if I let life take its course, I will eventually follow the path he laid out. Or stairs; you know, walk my way up the pyramid, sealing one need at a time.

For the uninitiated (I doubt there are any), Maslow said that all the needs a human being has, can be categorized into types, and these are the basic types of motivation that would guide or govern a person’s life. He thankfully adding caveats, that while the order he prescribed was the general norm, he didn’t necessarily deny the likelihood that some people might have an overlap or a change in sequence when it came to these needs being met. And the pyramid below defines the basic motivators or needs (which apparently he never used to describe his theory).


I always felt this was quite apt. I mean, it made perfect sense that the first requirement for anyone is to fulfill survival needs – food, air, water; followed by a house, protection, safety and security. Maybe love and belonging could be interspersed, since we are born in families, and make friends right from when we are taken to the park to play. And once you have your basics in place, the focus moves to proving yourself, building respect. And ofcourse, finally, we all want to be in zen mode where we are doing what we want, and not what is expected of us. Nice right? So straightforward, so convenient. And so not true.

Because, he missed one thing. He missed telling us that those ‘basic’ needs he spoke of, they don’t stay basic forever. They evolve, along with us. They grow, laterally, and extend out of the pyramid – even if he didn’t build the damn pyramid. And as they expand, they make it tough for the poor beings to move upwards, because half the time you are struggling to cover the length of the step you are at. And the other half, there are steps even below that entice you with new, improved, and now affordable things.

Like food. Now food is food is food. And this requirement is pretty much fulfilled and clear right from the beginning, I mean we are talking of this stuff because we are alive which means we are having food. But who knew just how exotic, how varied and by that equation, expensive food could get? Not me. Security; we all need a home, we have one, but they get bigger, and more interesting and from an apartment in small building they become townships and communities with pools and gyms and you might have all of it when suddenly the hoardings scream about villas with a front garden and you are dreaming of that little organic garden you could have. Again, it’s a house, a shelter, a basic need, but who knew it had so many dimensions to it?

If you are fortunate you have love and belonging, and have built an acceptable self esteem (thank the lord the former doesn’t have a measure). You are technically, all set to move to the final level, and realize what you are here for. But wait, we forgot the extensions; the extensions that are concealed deceptively as basic needs. They are there, and you are caught in them, right at the bottom of the pyramid again. Now luxuries matter, they are not basic needs, but they become. Travel matters, seeing new places matters and thankfully atleast this helps you realize who you are to some extent.

But when you try to think bigger, beyond that, you tend to think of all that you will have to let go for it. Those virtual extensions of the basic needs that you have built for yourself don’t let go of you. And those extensions, they are expensive. They need money. And the money, you get from spending a huge chunk of your day, every week, doing something you are no longer quite sure is what you should be doing in the first place.

And you are stuck. You tell yourself you will take the right decision in time. You convince yourself, that one day, the differentiation will be stark, and it will be easy to choose. It just needs some time, and a little more growing up.

Till then, you think about Maslow, curse him for making it sound as simple as he did. And you this all the time, through the day. Sometimes, even when you are picking up clothes from Zara, or digging into lobster at that luxurious Sunday brunch place. Because those are basic physiological needs after all.


14 thoughts on “Complicated heart

  1. Hahahaha! This was brilliant at so many levels. You are so right! He was very generic in definitions of the stages. In each category, there is another pyramid. Roti -> Paratha -> Naan -> “roti bread” -> bread -> croissants -> Masterchef level baked soft bread. 😀

    This was really good. You know. I have written a few posts debunking management theories, etc. We should combine and write a book! What say? 😀

    1. 😀 I love the idea of the mini pyramid inside each level – better than extension I think. I am all for the book idea! I have been questioning a lot of the theories these days – mostly Org behavior related 😀

  2. Maslow has always confused me. He made it way too simplistic when in reality it’s what you said – complicated!
    Loved the post. Very thought provoking.

  3. While this may prima facie appear to be humor talk but it has some pretty interesting and serious stuff hidden below the veneer.
    I thought over it for sometime and applied it to my life. I noticed i was present at all levels of the pyramid and may be at different level at different time.
    Probably multitasking wasnt invented then so compartmentalisation was obvious thing to do….great write up jeans girl 🙂

    1. Actually, you couldn’t be more correct. The post actually came up after some real life ruminations about where I am heading 🙂 So it is in fact, something sort of serious in a way!
      Multitasking happens, but that’s when moving to the next level becomes so tough – when you are left grappling with the tasks at hand! Thank you Parijat! 🙂

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