As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, I spent some time reflecting on all of the things that we have to be thankful for. After thinking through some of the big ones such as faith, family, and friends, I then began thinking about all of the smaller things such as a home with central heating and air, a car to travel with, clean water to drink, etc. I quickly realized that comprehending all we have to be thankful for is overwhelming. This exercise reminded me of psychologist Abe Maslow.
Abe was an expert in understanding human motivation based on their psychology of needs. In his "Hierarchy of Needs,” he details how human-beings have three levels of needs. The first need is to have food, shelter, and safety, which are the "survival needs.” If this is satisfied, the second set of needs is to be accepted, included, and respected through intimacy and friendships. These are the "social and esteem needs.” Once this need is fulfilled, a person can then strive to fulfill the third and greatest need of all which is known as "self actualization" or higher purpose.
Because our founding fathers took a risk on the amazing experiment called the United States of America, we are now the beneficiaries of one of the only societies in history where our first two primary needs are easily met. That means we are one of the only societies in history that has the ability to pursue self actualization and higher purpose. So, if you are looking for something to be thankful for this year, be thankful that we have blessings way beyond our basic need to survive. Be thankful that each of us has the freedom to define and pursue a higher purpose.