Back in 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper titled “A Theory of Human Motivation.” The ideas contained within were largely parallel to other theories of human developmental psychology and came to be expressed visually in a multi-colored triangle called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s generally acknowledged by scientists and laymen alike that the guy was onto something.
The only problem is he forgot about swankiness.
The fine minds here at Swank Life have been staring at the pyramid for days, but we can’t seem to find the proper place within all the motivational factors Maslow listed to put swankiness. Finally, we decided to knock on the penthouse door of our leader, Jake Swank, to ask his opinion. The answer: “Come on, guys, swankiness is EVERYWHERE.”
Well that was fairly non-specific. We knew our readers would demand more, so we sat Jake down in a comfortable chair and asked him to expand.
Maslow’s pyramid is constructed in layers, beginning with the most foundational elements on the bottom, and working up towards a state of existence he calls “self- actualization,” which appears to simply be another term for a fully developed person. There are five levels of development: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization. Maslow’s theory was that an individual could not develop the desire to achieve the higher level needs until the basic ones were met.
Physiological needs create the base of the pyramid and are characterized by those things which we must have in order to continue living. They include air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, sleep, excretion, homeostasis, and sex. Can we claim that swankiness belongs here? At first glance, maybe the answer is no, but let’s look closer and rely on the words of Jake Swank.
“I would argue that the need to achieve swankiness lies at the very foundation of human motivation. While not as obvious a need as breathing or eating, it has become apparent to me over a lifetime of swank living that the idea is as interwoven into our genetic code as the desire to find a cool drink of water when we’re thirsty.”
Once our daily physiological needs have been met, and we no longer have to fight and scratch just to stay alive, it’s time to move up to the next level. Maslow places safety as the second aspect of development, defining it as security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property. Would it be accurate to stick swankiness in this category? Once again, we turn to Jake Swank.
“Swankiness absolutely belongs in the category of safety. It just makes sense. In my own life, it has allowed me to rise above the daily scramble for bread, water, and a clean portable toilet. While others may ignore the obvious, I choose to find safety within a secure knowledge that my inherent swankiness provides everything I need.” He paused. “Well, that a great real estate investments.”
Once a sense of safety has been established, it’s on to the third level of the hierarchy of needs, defined as love/belonging. Maslow characterized the factors at this stage as friendship, family, and sexual intimacy. In plain terms, we’re past worrying about how to stay alive and earn a living, and can begin to focus on our place in the world among all the other humans around us. We asked Jake if he would put swankiness in this category also.
“Well, yeah. An innate swankiness allows you to develop the kind of love and friendship relationships that catapult you to the next level of development. Rock on, Maslow!”
We’re wandering into rare air at the fourth level of the hierarchy of needs. Maslow called it esteem, which he further defined to include self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. We don’t even have to ask Jake about this one. He’s busy texting right now anyway. Confidence? Self-esteem? Achievement? These factors are the very definition of swank. On to self-actualization!
It’s generally believed that few people actually manage to find themselves in this final category of human development. Maslow characterized it as including morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and an acceptance of facts. There’s just one little problem with attaining this ultimate stage of human development. We asked Jake to tell us his thoughts on the matter. He stopped looked up from his swanky iPhone just long enough to look us in the eye and say:
“Maslow forgot about swankiness.”
Well said, Jake. Well said indeed. That’s why you’re in the penthouse.
The Swank Life Team
Flickr / fender5