Free Will and Choice

Have you ever wondered what drives us to choose one action over another? Have you ever regretted having taken one path versus another? On a second thought… who hasn’t?

Stick with me and learn what might have been the cause behind your choices. But first, let’s start by defining the meaning of “Free Will”… For most of us, the term “free will” is quite familiar. It basically refers to a certain capacity that we -as rational beings- have, to choose a course of action from among a variety of alternatives. Pretty simple, but… what makes us choose one thing over another?

Most philosophers would agree that the concept of free will is intimately linked to that of moral responsibility. On laymen’s terms, acting from free will requires being aware of and taking responsibility for the consequences that our actions may or may not produce.

Assuming that most people in the world were taught responsibility, why is it then that many fall by the sidelines acting irresponsibly towards themselves, towards other human beings, and towards the environment? In other words, why do we do what we do?

The answer to this question may very well be hidden in the “Hierarchy of Needs” by Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s theory may help you better understand human behavior, including your own.

Building Awareness About Our Own Primary Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of the Hierarchy of Needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation“, published in 1943 and later on in his book, “Motivation and Personality.” This pyramidal order proposes that individuals are motivated to fulfill their basic needs before moving on to get other needs.

Maslow’s theory dictates that these needs are like instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior. When the basic needs are not met, it becomes almost impossible to pursue other things in life or achieve higher needs.

The basic needs –also called D-needs– come up due to scarcity or a lack or something. These are physiological (sleeping, eating), security (safety), social (acceptance), and esteem (self-worth). Fulfilling these 4 lower-level needs is important in order to seek out higher awareness and achieve self growth, as you can see in Maslow’s pyramid above.

When these needs are met, it is unlikely that we create unpleasant feelings, conditions or results in our life. However, when these basic needs are not met, our choices might be affected (or biased) in spite of our free will. This happens due to our innate instinct for well-being.

The fifth level of needs is the highest-level of the pyramid. These were termed by Maslow as the Growth Needs, the Being Needs or B-needs. Once all the D-needs are met, the desire for personal development emerges from B-needs. These needs do not come about as a result of lack of something, but instead from a desire, a want, a pursuit of growth as a individual. From this position, you can fully execute your free will and your choices consciously.

The 5 levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  • Physiological Needs
    These include the most basic and common needs which are essential for survival. Examples are the need for water, air, food and rest. Maslow thought that until these needs were fulfilled, personal growth could not be seek out and much less achieved.
  • Safety Needs
    This need encompasses refuge and protection. These needs are also crucial for survival, but they’re not as essential as the physiological needs, for one can literally live under a tree but not without water. Examples of protection needs include a desire for a home to live in, a stable job, health insurance, safe places to be in and protection from environmental factors.
  • Love Needs
    These needs refer to the feeling of belonging, love, compassion, and kindness. Maslow believed these needs were less crucial than physiological and protection needs. In other words, having friends and belonging to a group is important, but not before having a meal and a roof over our heads. Friendships, immediate and extended family as well as romantic relationships help us fulfill this need for company and acceptance. Also, our involvement in social, community or spiritual groups give us a sense of belonging.
  • Self-Worth Needs
    After these first 3 needs have been fulfilled, self-worth needs become progressively important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-regard, personal worth, social recognition and personal achievement. More precisely, it relates to the way in which we see ourselves and the way in which others see us; i.e. self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Self-Actualization Needs
    This is the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the one from where human beings develop higher awareness and personal growth. Self-actualizing individuals are self-conscious (but not egotistical), concerned with self growth, less worried with the opinions of other people and interested satisfying their potential in their own benefit as well as for the benefit of others.

This is where REAL Personal Growth happens!

If you want to take a deeper look into your own behaviors as well as increase your understanding of the motivations behind other people’s choices and actions, I recommend you read: “Awareness Building and Consciousness Raising Facts.” Click on the image below for immediate eBook download right after purchase…

Once you understand the motives behind human behavior and become more aware of your own behaviors, you will know where your actions come from and how they are affected by your free will.

Moreover, your personal growth path will be facilitated because you will know yourself that much more! From disgrace and apathy to pride-fullness and bravery, you will learn how behaviors can be tracked down to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!

Get to Know Yourself! …and use that benefit to your advantage…

Discover the truth behind every single choice you make as a human being…

Anticipate your behaviors to prevent problems and use your free will to act accordingly so you facilitate solutions… With great power comes great responsibility. Study “Awareness Building and Consciousness Raising Facts” and… put your knowledge to good use!

“Life is like a game of cards…
The hand you are dealt is determinism;
the way you play it is
 free will.”

 ~ Jawaharlal Nehru / Indian Prime Minister, 1889-1964

“Though our character is formed by circumstances,
our own desires can do much to shape those circumstances;
and what is really inspiriting and ennobling in the doctrine of free will
is the conviction that we have real power
over the formation of our own destiny.”

 ~ John Stuart Mill / Philosopher, Logician and Economist, 1806-1873