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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

What I Need

I need to be an astronaut. If that's not possible, I need to be a surgeon. And if that's not possible, I need to be wealthy.

Will Malpass, Age 14

Have you heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Psychologist Abraham Maslow devised the hierarchy, usually pictured as a pyramid, in a 1943 article entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation.”

Pyramid showing Maslow's hierarchy of needs by FireflySixtySeven [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

This needy pyramid shows life-sustaining necessities like food, water, and shelter at its base. The next level of needs is things like personal safety and adequate financial security. Relationships, friendships, and family are next in the hierarchy; then a sense of personal worthiness; and at the top of the pyramid is "self-actualization," which always makes me think of someone at the summit of a mountain with arms up-stretched, shouting praises to God.

Another way to think of self-actualization is that condition of existence in which one feels he or she is truly presenting the absolutely best version of themselves possible.

Let's go a bit introspective for a moment. What would we look like standing atop that mountain peak? What are our praises to God about? What's the context of our lives at the point of self-actualization?

Our answers will probably vary, but I believe for each of us, they will somehow relate to our MAIN THING, and will likely answer one of life's BIG QUESTIONS:

"Why am I here?"

I suppose the 14-year-old version of me thought I was here for adventure, fame, glory, and riches. No doubt those are worthy objectives—but as I've lived my life I've come to understand needs like those aren't what allow me to present the absolutely best version of myself. I suspect the same is true for all of us.

After giving it much thought, I think what we really need in this life is PURPOSE. That's what brings us to the point of self-actualization, with hands lifted in praise to God.

"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

Author and educator Stephen Covey

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