An Evaluation of Needs: The Pursuit of Happiness


The Declaration of Independence  upholds the inalienable right that each American can pursue happiness.  Throughout the course of life, each spouse is graced with visions of a happy life, choosing to believe it is both possible and attainable.  In the 1940’s, Maslow capitalized on this universal belief with his theory of self-actualization.  Those considered to be actualizers undoubtedly pursue fulfillment and happiness.  According to research, the main attributes of actualizers include individuals that highly value growth, autonomy, openness to experiences, flexibility and cognitive competency (Heylighen, 1992).

Maslow believed a mere 1-2% of the population ever achieved the status of actualization (McLeod, 2014).  With a much more educated and affluent society today, that number may be a low estimate.  In addition, by their very nature, trailing spouses may be a significant amount of that 1-2% estimate.  Trailing spouses, by the very nature of their position, regularly exhibit the characteristics of cognitive competency, openness to experiences, autonomy, flexibility and growth.  This may allow the assumption that a large amount of individuals seeking actualization are congregated into a very small society within embassy communities.  Therefore, the idea of reaching and obtaining a fulfilled life may be at odds with the particularly high amount of competition with other actualizers.  Especially when opportunities for advancement are not readily available for this large proportion of growth seekers, within such a small organization.

However, Maslow also recognized and believed a majority of people were caught in what he termed Being (B)-Cognition.  B-Cognition is defined as a place of comfort; a place where individuals are unmotivated to change life and are no longer excited by one’s own environment.  Staying in this B-Cognitive form, he believed, many dangers arise for the fulfillment and potential of mankind.  They are, what he considered, the average man.

The underlying question then, becomes, does the small community and limited advancement within the Department of State overseas culture breed a species of B-Cognitive spouses that merely accept the status quo and no longer feel the need to exert themselves to a higher calling?

As Maslow once stated,

I think of the self-actualizing man not as as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away.  The average man is a human being with dampened and inhibited powers (Hoffman, 2011).


To be continued,…UP NEXT: The Evaluation

New to the series?  Start reading the Preface here.




Heylighen, F. (1992). A Cognitivie-Systemic Reconstruction of Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualization. Behavioral Science, 37, 39-57. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from

Hoffman, E., Ph.D. (2011, September 4). The Life and Legacy of Abraham Maslow. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2016, from,_Liberty_and_the_pursuit_of_Happiness

Maslow, A. (n.d.). Critique of Self-Actualization: Some Dangers of Being-Cognition. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from v15 n1/Critique_of_Self-Actualization–Maslow.pdf

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s