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HAPPINESS --A NEED BASED PERSPECTIVE

Animals are happy if they have enough to eat. Human beings, one reasons, ought to
be happy too, but they are not, at least in a majority of cases. As the saying goes: man
does not live by bread alone. Different factors affect our life satisfaction. According to
UN happiness index six key variables have been found to support well-being of
human beings: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and
generosity.

The need to meet requirements like food, shelter and health are indispensable for
bare survival but may not be enough for the well-being of all men. In addition to bare
subsistence, men also need meaningful occupation, love and respect to be happy.
According to Abraham Maslow, well renowned for proposing the Hierarchy of Needs
Theory, there is a hierarchy of needs within each individual in order of preference.
These needs are as follows-

1. Physiological needs-
These are the basic needs of
air, water, food, clothing and
shelter, basic amenities of
life.
2. Safety needs-
environmental and emotional
safety and protection, i.e.
Job security, financial
security, family security,
health security.
3. Social needs- Need for love,
affection, care, FIGURE: Maslow’s Need Hierarchy
belongingness, and Model
friendship.
4. Esteem needs- Esteem
needs are of two types:
internal esteem needs (self-
respect, confidence,
competence, achievement
and freedom) and external
esteem needs (recognition,
power, status, attention and
admiration).
5. Self-actualization need-
This include the urge to
realise our potential. It also
includes desire for gaining
more knowledge, social-
service, creativity and being
aesthetic.
We strive to fulfil our needs in our social system, which includes both living and non-
living environment. Failure to fulfil our needs may stimulate or produce responses
which cause human stress, while success creates a sense of well-being in an
individual which is derived from one or more components: The organic (including
climate), biologic, nutrients, man-made physical (the human settlement and its
technology), and social environment, i.e. relational, cultural, communicative and
behavioural factors. These factors may affect the well-being of individuals either in
isolation as a simple unmediated linear cause and effect fashion, e.g. food, shelter
and clothing for survival. Invariably, however, factors in one component of the social
system may have their inputs for well-being and happiness tempered, constrained,
exacerbated or relived by the concomitant influence of the factors in the same or the
other factors. For example, physical factors of man-made environment in human
settlements may indirectly or synergistically combine with the other factors,
especially social environmental factors and nutrient factors to contribute to well-
being and happiness of individuals.

Gross deficiencies and inadequacies to meet these requirements make people


unhappy. If you are unhappy yourself, in all probability, you are not an exception.
Each one of us has one’s own troubles which affect our well-being and happiness.
People are then afflicted with anxiety, e.g. lack of interest in work, incapacity to play,
no enthusiasm to interact with fellow beings. The causes of these various kinds of
unhappiness lie partly in the social system, partly in individual psychology.