As mentioned in my initial post, I started seriously and more or less systematically thinking on how to live a happy, financially independent and free life quite a long time ago.
But when I really go back, it probably all started when I was at school, 17 years old, and we studied “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” in Ethics/Philosophy-Education.
(I really like the German school system btw. It is often said that school and university take too long in Germany and people learn too much “unnecessary” stuff, but that’s not true. Many of the things I learned proved to be quite helpful in a way one would not easily have expected. Maslow is one of them.)
And here is what Maslow said, what deeply impressed my that time and made me set the goal for climbing up his “pyramid” as high as I possibly could:
Maslow sais that human needs are arranged in a pyramid, with the most basic and necessary-for-bare-living needs being at the bottom, followed by more and more sophisticated needs further up.
The stages of Maslow’s pyramid are:
1) Physiological Needs (food, water, sex etc.)
2) Security Needs (secure body, property, securing enough food, security from threats, having money)
3) Belonging/Social Needs (Friendship, Family, Love, Social Ties and Networks, Intimacy)
4) Esteem/Individual Needs (Respect by and for others, Achievement, Confidence)
5) Self-Actualization Need (Full Development of own potential, Possibility to express oneself)
The theory sais that a human being always is on one of the stages and always strives to sustain the current stage and to maybe climb the next stage. But he/she will not care too much about the stages further up.
Same holds true the other way round. Satisfaction is gained from reaching new stages or from mastering the current stage. Stages further down are taken for granted and cannot really make you happy anymore.
If you are starving (you are below level 1), you do not care about Self-Actualization or Social Ties. You want food, you want to climb level 1. And you value it very high if you get food, it will bring you a lot of happiness.
When you got enough food (you reached level 1), you want your source of food secured, such to never starve again. Thus you want to reach level 2 (Security needs). And so on.
The other way round, if you made it to level 4, and already live a quite sophisticated life, you are respected, you are self-confident and so on, you take food for granted, and just giving you some more ordinary food will not at all make you happier.
This is in my eyes a very wise concept, and very early I decided for myself that it should be some guideline for my own life and that every now and then I will measure which stage I am on, and what is missing to proceed.
I think it’s a good exercise for everybody to do that as there are so many people who just stick around on one level (e.g. security by accumulating money for its own sake) and just don’t see that there is so much more to do and to make it to the top.
So now, what stage are you on?