I recently saw an article about Maslow’s loss hierarchy of needs on LinkedIn.

The first time I saw this concept, I was a psychology major in the late 1980s. Though the concept seemed interesting and was presented in a dynamic way, I was always confused by the phrase self-actualization. What does this really mean?

Fast toward to today and still think this is a fuzzy concept. But now, I’ve lived through enough good and bad experiences to propose an alternate viewpoint. My hierarchy is called Hierarchy of a Better Life or the Pyramid of Thriving.

Here’s what it looks like:
BD-BL Hierachy 8x8Relationships make up the biggest part and most important part of this model.

The foundation is a person’s relationship with his or her creator. After all, the One who made us knows what He had in mind for us from the beginning. We wouldn’t be here without God and He wants to be at the center and life is better that way. Ironically, people who don’t believe in the God of the Bible still may believe in the idea of a power bigger than ourselves. If we are grounded in this, everything else can be handled.

The next most important relationship is the one I have with myself. (And the one you have with your self.) We rarely think about it, but we are always in a running conversation with ourselves. I am always with me. And what I think about myself affects everything else. It shapes how I relate to others, what I do and what I even think is possible. If my relationship with myself is adversarial it’s like having and enemy in my heart. And if I could learn to be a wise cheerleader for myself, I could do so much more.

The next tier up represents my relationships with other people. These include loved ones, family members, friends, coworkers, teammates, neighbors, adversaries and even strangers who I might be sharing the road with in my vehicle. Much of life is affected good and bad by these connections. In my hierarchy I would encourage people to proactively think about these relationships and figure out plans and strategies to help them be a mutually beneficial as possible.

Productivity is level four. It covers the gambit of “stuff” that people need and want to do. It includes cooking dinner, doing homework, exercising, changing diapers, finishing tasks for my job, writing books, feeding the homeless, taking out the garbage, sewing costumes for my daughter’s musical, etc, etc, etc.

All this stuff takes on new meaning when we think about our to-dos as it they connect to the levels below. So I exercise to take care of my body, so I can be around to see my children get married and have their own children. I try to excel at work so I can have enough money to cover the items that I need to manage. Most nights, I cook dinner at home, so my husband has healthy meals to help manage his diabetes. I write a blog so I can share the lessons I am learning with other people who I don’t yet know, to help them avoid making the same mistakes I have made, and etc, etc, etc.

Productivity often provides the resources to fuel the other levels.

I like to say this hierarchy helps people thrive by connecting the everyday activities our meaningful relationships, which have the potential to be eternal.

The cherry on the top of the Better Life pyramid is joy (or enjoyment). Sometimes joy can be challenging to explain. I often think of it as a continuum that goes from fun moments to the pleasure of good circumstances to a steadfast delight in God, despite the circumstances.

Joy enables the other levels to be better, like cream makes coffee even better.

Using this hierarchy has helped me personally go from a life that seemed broken and impossible, to a life that has meaning and consistent times of relational connection, productive service and laugh out load loads of fun.

If this sounds intriguing to you, please contact me www.betterdaybetterlife.com.