Monday, September 18, 2017

Our behavior is governed by our needs

Dr KK Aggarwal

Human behaviour is governed by needs. Every behavior is justified medically as every action is performed according to one’s own psyche, which in turn depends upon the needs. 

Needs influence our values, thoughts and interactions with other people; needs are what drive us to act in a certain manner.

The most basic or primitive needs are food, sleep, water, shelter, procreation; these satisfy the physical body. Most thefts, minor criminal acts, eve teasing, rapes, etc. are to fulfil these needs. One may even be driven to steal to satisfy basic needs such as hunger.

If the physical needs are met, a person then moves on to the next level of needs, the mental needs, which can be at the level of mind, intellect or ego.

The need for achievement or the desire and ambition to excel satisfy the needs of the mind and the intellect. While, ego-based needs focus on power, position, money, awards, respect or appreciation.

According to the Bhagwad Gita, there are three main gateways to misery: Lust, greed and ego. If they are satisfied, more lust, greed or ego follows. Unsatisfied lust ends up in anger, delusion and misery; unsatisfied greed leads to attachment and resultant negative actions and unsatisfied ego leads to violent acts.

Those who have conquered these mental needs by controlling the mind look to fulfil their spiritual needs. They seek inner happiness.

All individuals have an inherent need for personal development, which occurs through a process called self-actualization. How much is an individual able to develop depends on fulfilment of certain needs, which form a hierarchy, in order of priority. This concept formed the basis of the ‘hierarchy of needs’, as proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Often depicted as a pyramid with five levels of needs, the hierarchy of needs is a classical description of human motivation. The four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs, of which the most basic are physiological needs, followed by safety needs, esteem needs and belonging and love. The top most level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs or self actualization.

The higher level needs become a source of motivation only after the four basic needs are met. It is then that we focus on working towards achieving self-actualization i.e. achieving one’s full potential.

As per Vedic knowledge, human body is made up of physical body, mind, intellect, ego and the soul. The needs were classified as physical needs, mental needs, intellectual needs, egoistic needs and the spiritual needs. A similar approach was adopted by Maslow, wherein he grouped physical, mental, intellectual and egoistic as the basic needs and spiritual needs as the higher needs.
Although Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid has been challenged in recent times, it is still a widely used and accepted explanation of human behavior. Only after the basic needs are fulfilled, can we move on to the next level.

Deepak Chopra, in his book the ‘Soul of leadership’ has classified the Hierarchy of Needs under seven levels and says, “Just as there is a rising hierarchy of responses built into us, there is a rising hierarchy of needs”. Every hierarchy of needs is linked to hierarchy of behaviors.

1.    Survival/Safety
2.    Achievement/Success
3.    Belonging
4.    Self-worth
5.    Expression/Renewal
6.    Spiritual Growth/Vision
7.    Transcendence

In addition to their roles as clinicians, doctors are leaders not only within their clinics/hospitals, or associations but also in the community. They are change agents and act as a catalyst for change and transformation in their patients as well as the community. 

Needs are constantly changing and developing; acting as motivators, needs shape personal growth and development because our goals and objectives are defined based on our needs. When one goal is achieved, there is another new goal to be achieved.

One must always try to achieve the next higher level as you move up. Being sensitive to the needs of others is a hallmark of an effective leader. This is how you can positively impact the lives of others for the better.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own.

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