Wellness Pearls

13 October 2020

Fortify the Leaky Boat

A fresh look at Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ offers wise guidance in these tumultuous times.  It turns out that the pyramid of needs(below) was only created after Maslow’s death.

He never imagined a ladder of needs that one climbs, but rather that our basic food, safety and belonging needs (and can we add strong WiFi?) demand we continuously revisit them as we grow and mature.  If we want to reach a harmonious self – and grow into a wise human being, no matter what is going on around us, we can replace the ladder with the image of a boat.

In order to be sea-worthy, we need a strong and secure vessel to take out on the water and open our sails.  When we explore the unpredictable, wild ocean, we all take a different path and without exception, will experience rough seas.  So, we also need a safe harbor to return to.    To reach our highest aspirations and capacity, we need to make sure we don’t have a leaky boat.

Fortifying the leaky boat means doubling down on our high-quality connections (not faux social media ones) and combating loneliness head on.   Prioritizing sleep and eating real food, curating every form of media you expose yourself to.   As we struggle with so much, practice a minimum of 90 minutes a day of self-care (not including grooming or eating).  It means practicing mindfulness to avoid the imprisonment of acting on every urge that comes our way or reacting to everything that seems wrong, rude or unfair.  This is easy to say, harder to do but we must continuously take responsibility for fulfilling our own needs.


What’s captured me:

Love these twin brothers, Rap enthusiasts listening to one of my favorite artists for their first time, Sinead O’Connor:


Watch this and see if it creates an urge to clean your car or any mess in your life:


6 Responses

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Hi Bruce I agree I’ve had the same experience, and the more I learn about him and some of the other developmental psychologists- Adler, Jung, the more intrigued I become. Great to hear from you and hope you are enjoying the retirement. Eileen

  1. Anthony Griffith Smith

    One of your best “pearls” yet. In nursing school many years ago, I gave Maslow’s hierarchy little consideration. After 40 years of clinical practice and at age 72, his pyramid is more meaningful than ever. Thanks for sharing.
    CPNP, retired

  2. Connie

    I loved it Eileen, insightful write up and the boat analogy is spot on. Great video from the twins! and now I must go clean my car 😏

  3. Susan

    Thank you for this very helpful piece, Eileen! During these days of isolation, it’s so important to be more compassionate to ourselves as well as to others ❤️

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