Basic needs

Max Neef sets out a table of topics, that looks at Basic Human Needs, it makes a lot of sense and worth looking at. When you look through the list, apart from food and shelter, there is not a lot else we really need to keep ourselves happy. (That we are not capable of doing ourselves) Here there is no mention of billionaires; nuclear bombs, massive armies, celebrities, leaders, savours, television, cars, multiplexes, retail outlets, and the thousands of other distractions that blots out our ability to think normally, day in, day out.

What Neef is suggesting, is not that we all go back and live in caves – but for instance understanding the idea of pleasure, through, thought and awakening our own creative urge can reduces the belief in the myth, that we constantly need to find money to gain happiness. (which is the position most of us are trapped in) Lets face it – having a billion pounds in the bank is more to do with having power over others, than it is to do with happiness or needs. While having material things to some extent can bring happiness – but happiness is more to do with a chemical reaction in the brain that induces well-being and the same pleasure can be experienced whether you are a billionaire or you own nothing – Since a minuscule amount of us will be, or will have the opportunity to be even millionaires, why should we worry about it, or even care, or sit and watch endless TV programs about stuff and people that are not even near our lives?

Much of corporate business distraction is in place to stop people thinking about the idea that they can be happy through their own efforts. For instance – in a job that offers some creative challenge; a wage that meets the effort and sacrifice to make it – time after work spent in hobbies and activities rather than exhaustion and television – a rent or mortgage that doesn’t absorb most of what you earn – a place for your kids to play and places where teenagers can take-on and learn some of the responsibility of future adulthood – where they can grow and develop. This is far more achievable and I would argue more appealing to most people than the brain melt of television and the futility of the unattainable.

Manfred Max-Neef and his colleagues developed a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealth’s” and “poverty’s” according to how their fundamental human needs are satisfied. As you can see below our needs are not that difficult to serve

Need Being (qualities) Having (things) Doing (actions) Interacting (settings)
subsistence physical and mental health food, shelter, work feed, clothe, rest, work living environment, social setting
protection care, adaptability, autonomy social security, health systems, work co-operate, plan, take care of, help social environment, dwelling
affection respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality friendships, family, relationships with nature share, take care of, make love, express emotions privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness
understanding critical capacity, curiosity, intuition literature, teachers, policies, educational analyse, study, meditate, investigate, schools, families, universities, communities,
participation receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour responsibilities, duties, work, rights cooperate, dissent, express opinions associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods
leisure imagination, tranquility, spontaneity games, parties, peace of mind day-dream, remember, relax, have fun landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone
creation imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity abilities, skills, work, techniques invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret spaces for expression, workshops, audiences
identity sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency language, religions, work, customs, values, norms get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself places one belongs to, everyday settings
freedom autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness equal rights dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness anywhere