Happiness — 01 August 2010
Personal happiness at all cost?

The search for personal happiness, the state of satisfaction with one’s life and being, is a fundamental human quest. People go to great lengths to attain the thrills of a happy state. Yet, there should be some consideration of others to mitigate the risks involved in the pursuit of one’s personal nirvana.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated in 1943 the hierarchy of human needs. The five-tiered pyramid of need fulfillment is: 1. Providing for our biological needs, such as food and water for survival. 2. Gaining shelter for safety. 3. Satisfying the need for love, family and belonging to a community. 4. Gaining respect. 5. Seeking self-actualization.
This hierarchy recognizes biological and survival needs before the needs for love and respect of family and community. Self-actualization is the highest pursuit. Should it come at the risk of jeopardizing one’s family?
Here are three examples of personal quests for happiness and pleasure that required thorough consideration to avoid the risk and pain that might be caused to family and community.
Todd Skinner was a world-class rock climber, who had climbed thousands of rock faces around the world using ropes and other equipment only as backup, was pioneering a new route up the Leaning Tower near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite at the time of his accidental death on October 23, 2006. His climbing partner, Jim Hewett, said that five minutes before his fall, Todd was, “the same super happy person he had always been.” Todd, 47, left a wife and three children.
Some people love their Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. They are attached to their dogs, care for them and feel that they are wonderful animals, who, when given the proper care, pose no threat to others.
Yet, Merritt Clifton, editor of “ANIMAL PEOPLE”, summarized in “Dog attack deaths and maiming, U.S. and Canada September 1982 to November 13, 2006,” “Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in the study, 68% of the attacks upon children, 82% of the attacks upon adults, 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings.” He recommends: “Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are accordingly dogs who not only must be handled with special precautions, but also must be regulated with special requirements appropriate to the risk they may pose to the public and other animals, if they are to be kept at all.”
In a non life-threatening example, two former high school sweethearts meet at their 40th reunion. Both of them have been married for 35 years and have children and grandchildren. Should they follow their renewed magic, leave their spouses and families to find their true happiness?

• Know that pursuing your self-actualizing goals and personal happiness is your inalienable right.
• Realize that each step in the hierarchy of needs must take its turn and should not come at the expense of the previous one.
• Commit to your love, family and community first. Abstain from any endeavors that might cause them loss or pain.

Related Articles

About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.