Abraham Maslow's theory that we are motivated by five primary needs (survival, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization, where “the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another, more pre-potent need”) is something we played with last week in relation to breakfast. Today, we turn to your Valentine's Day needs. Note that if you're unhappily single, you may want to start and end with Level 1. Turn the page.
Level 1. The Need to Survive, or: Chocolates
“If all the needs are unsatisfied, and the organism is then dominated by the physiological needs, all other needs may become simply non-existent or be pushed into the background.” — Abraham Maslow
Ricky Ricardo kept an emergency box of chocolates on hand just in case he forgot certain important events like Valentine's Day (and Lucy's birthday and Christmas and Mother's Day), and perhaps you should, too. Compartes and Valerie Confections: These are both great resources. Even if you would like to think your partner has attained self-actualization (see: Level 5) and thus doesn't care much about the holiday, today probably is a bad day to test your theory. And if you're single and not too thrilled about it, well, the chocolates will help you survive the day as well.
Level 2. The Need for Safety, or: A Cookbook
“Just as a sated man no longer feels hungry, a safe man no longer feels endangered.” — Abraham Maslow
Now that you have survived the first part of your day, you now can turn to the next pressing concern: Dinner. And while you can scramble to find a table for two at a decent restaurant at this 11th hour, your safest and most reliable bet probably is to refer to a good cookbook or favorite recipe. After all, you don't need a reservation at Vons.
Level 3. The Need to Belong, or: A Restaurant
“Now the person will feel keenly, as never before, the absence of friends, or a sweetheart, or a wife, or children. He will hunger for affectionate relations with people in general, namely, for a place in his group, and he will strive with great intensity to achieve this goal. He will want to attain such a place more than anything else in the world and may even forget that once, when he was hungry, he sneered at love.” — Abraham Maslow
At this level, you and your partner may very well be functioning as one unit, in which case you're not looking for love so much as you are looking to share this experience of couplehood with other allegedly happy couples. And so a romantic restaurant is in order, preferably one offering a special Valentine's Day prix fixe menu, because nothing says group love like going to a restaurant where the chef might not be as excited about the holiday as you are.
Level 4. The Need for Esteem, or: Twitter
“All people in our society (with a few pathological exceptions) have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, (usually) high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others. … Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-confidence, worth, strength, capability and adequacy of being useful and necessary in the world.” — Abraham Maslow
You have your sweetheart's affections, but at this point, that's not quite enough: You need others to acknowledge your thoughtful gifts, too. And what better way than by showing off your day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You'll rack up likes and retweets, and these digital hearts of approval will do well for your confidence. Just maybe refrain from comparing yourself to your friends and followers until tomorrow.
Level 5. Self-Actualization
“Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.” — Abraham Maslow
“Why not seize pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” — Jane Austen, Emma
You'll go to a place on your regular rotation, order takeout from your favorite spot in Thai Town, or step out for a few tacos. Then you'll go home and watch Parks and Recreation. Because it's Thursday.
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