Jewish psychologist Abraham Maslow is famous for his rubric Man’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s idea was fully expressed in his 1954 book Motivation and Personality. The hierarchy remains a very popular framework in sociology research, management training, and secondary and higher psychology instruction. Maslow’s classification hierarchy has been revised over time. The original hierarchy states that a lower level must be completely satisfied and fulfilled before moving onto a higher pursuit. However, today scholars prefer to think of these levels as continuously overlapping each other. This means that the lower levels may take precedence back over the other levels at any point in time.

The gist of his research illustrates how we are not a mere bundle of wants and desires. There is a clear order to our concerns. Maslow enumerated five levels. First are our physiological needs: for food and shelter, the basic requirements of survival. Next come safety needs: protection against harm done to us by others. Third is our need for love and belonging. Above that comes our desire for recognition and esteem, and higher still is self-actualization: fulfilling our potential, becoming the person we feel we could and should be. In his later years Maslow added a yet higher stage: self-transcendence, rising beyond the self through altruism and spirituality. 

It’s interesting to note that the five levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs thematically resemble Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s five levels of pleasure: physicality, love, purpose, creativity, and spirituality.

Today, define what the five levels of pleasure mean to you personally. Commit to being mindful every day of what brings you pleasure within the five levels and look for opportunities to nurture and grow your relationship to each one.