The Burden We Bear

More likely than not, if you are reading this, you have your basic needs met. More likely than not, if you are reading this, you have your basic needs met.

We live in a wonderfully abundant time.

But, what are those basic needs?

Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of human motivation in 1943. This theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (LINKS), orders the human motivations/needs as such…

1) Physiological Needs:

These are the physical requirements for human survival (Air, water and food). 

2) Safety:

This is the assurance that you are “secure enough,” in financial and physical terms. 

3) Love and Belonging:

These are the needs for family, friends and intimate partners.

4) Esteem:

These are the needs for self-respect and the respect of others. 

5) Self-Actualization:

This is the need to see that you meet your full potential as a capable human beig. 

6) Self-Transcendence:

This is the need found from giving oneself to some higher purpose/goal outside yourself. 

What needs of yours are already met? For how long have our ancestors endured life long battles just to ensure the first two needs?

Most of our ancestors haven’t had time to pursue needs beyond scope of food, water and safety.

Our problems, are of a much more existential level. Our tasks are much more complex. And there a mass of different solutions.

What Are Our Problems Today? 

We should be grateful. Our problems are much greater than the elementary.

Not that the first two needs are universally met in today…cause they aren’t.

I’m again weighing on the notion that most of you all reading this text, do have your basic needs met.

We aren’t searching for the next meal, we are trying to deem what will be a healthy next meal. We aren’t awaiting a full day of physical labor. We are anxious that the work we do isn’t “fulfilling” enough. We aren’t in a constant state of danger. We worry we aren’t living exciting enough lives.

How grateful can we be, that these are our problems, and not something basic.

Complex Problems and All, What Now? 

With our problems deemed “complex” what are we suppose to do with this?

I believe Step 1 becomes confirming with yourself, that yes this is true. You have all that you could ever need.

Perhaps you could use some more money, but it’s not for keeping the roof over your head. More likely than not, it’s for another “want.”

Once you confirm with yourself that yes, you have what you need, step 2, becomes getting to work.

The Burden We Bear

Existing in this lifetime has forced us into bearing some of the greatest burdens in history.

In ages past, our ancestors thought about how they can get clean water into the city. Not the easiest problem, but not a problem of true self-transcendence.

Today, thought leaders wonder how we can make people feel most fulfilled in their lives. They think about giving individuals a sense of belonging. They think about the sicknesses of depression or anxiety.

Although those problems are…well…problems, this burden we bear is fantastic.

The greatest sources of innovation are the world’s biggest problems.

Although, the solution won’t be an aqueduct to get water to the city.

We have the issue of not rallying enough people around a cause. We have the issues of individuals feeling isolated, depressed and anxious. We have the issues of the existential. We don’t feel like we are enough. We don’t feel like we could make the impact we want to. We can’t seem to define “success” or “happiness.”

Today, our problems don’t have simple answers.

Today, our problems have answers that are far more complex.

And now, we must accept that burden. And as other societies have done before us, we must get creative, and work to solve the problems of our day and age.

Many of my friends approach their college graduation this summer, like I would have. More often than not, I get an “I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life” sort of vibe.

Life doesn’t “start” when college finishes. The exploration of life only begins.

With the problems that our age faces, we can’t afford the most curious among us, working for a paycheck.

Money needs to be made, yes. Although I ask, what’s going to put you in the best position to answer these most difficult questions? Am I thinking big enough? Am I challenging myself enough? Do I have the capability to impact the world?

What do you think will give you better solutions?

Should you dive right into the job that occupies 40-50 hours a week of your time (not including commute)? Something that makes you dread Sunday evenings, and rejoice on Fridays with drinks and the Saturday hangover?

Don’t ask how I can afford the rent for my studio apartment in Seattle, New York, or X big city. But, ask how can I put myself in a position to uncover what will fulfill me for the long life I have ahead of myself.

Really, we should all be asking ourselves this question.