This morning, I thought I was having a bad day. A few things caught me off guard and shook my faith in the universe. Then I heard about the disastrous earthquake in Haiti and realized that it is all a matter of perspective when you’re having a bad day.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is also politically unstable. Combine that with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, with an epi-centre very close to the capital city and that spells disaster. Certainly the death toll will be in the thousands and will likely increase exponentially as survivors struggle for food and water. This is a country where basic needs are not met, and in the wake of a disaster, even with countries pledging their aid, they will be challenged to make it through the next days and weeks, if not months.
Let’s compare with most people’s situation in Canada:
First, most people are able to fulfill most, if not all of the Physiological Needs at the bottom of the pyramid (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
If I look around my home, I have a fridge and cupboard full of food (and the means to refill it), running water for both drinking and showering (even though we buy reverse osmosis water). I have clean toilet facilities and am usually able to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night on our pillow-top queen size mattress. For the most part, we all have a place to live and a roof over our heads. Less than %0.5 of people in Toronto are homeless (based on 2006 stats) although it would be better for that number to be zero.
Moving to the second level of the pyramid, Safety & Security:
Once again I would suggest that the majority of Canadians are able to achieve most of these. Job security is no longer what it used to be, but there are endless opportunities for entrepreneurs to start their own business, as both Dan and myself have done. We have a public health care system – and with all it’s faults – it is still FREE for the most part. Yes, we may have to wait longer for appointments and in some areas the quality of care might not be as great, but I have certainly learned to appreciate our system even more over the past few years. Finally, we may not always agree with our government, but we do have social stability and many social systems that are in place to help those that are in need.
Love & belonging is where things become more personal. The key with the hierarchy is that it is difficult, if not impossible to achieve the higher levels if the bottom ones are not met. For the upper levels of the pyramid, I will speak only for my own situation.
I am truly blessed, I have a wonderful husband, a great relationship with my sister and my parents. Furthermore, my work environment is loving and supportive, as well as having positive and inspiring business partners. I’m grateful to feel that I am connected every day.
Self-Esteem maybe where many of us get stuck once in a while:
I certainly have moments of self-doubt and am one of my harshest critics (aren’t we all?). Thankfully, one of the best resources we have to build our self-esteem is free. The public library is one of my absolute favorite places! All of the books, DVDs, CDs and even video games you could want and you can borrow them for FREE!!
I would definitely consider myself achievement driven and goal oriented. While craving the respect of others, I try not to do so at the expense of compromising my values. And finally, I love being me – enthusiastic, passionate, loving, giving and optimistic – and 1 in 7 billion.
As we reach the top of the pyramid, we start to explore our true higher selves, with Self-Actualization. Personally, I have been working in this area for a number of years now and have been making some progress. The journey of self-discovery is a lifelong one, so I figure it’s best to make sure that the lower levels are covered so that I can spend more time up at the top.
An ounce of perspective makes me realize that I have a great deal to be thankful for and that a bad day for me might just be someone else’s dream day. Take an inventory in your own life and see where you end up on the hierarchy. Maybe it’s time to realize that your life is also a dream!