American Psychologist Abraham Maslow gave us a terrific definition of our species many years ago when he constructed his hierarchy of needs – ranking a person’s capacity to act, think and prioritise based upon the meeting of their most basic to more philosophical needs. The school of life does a brilliant job of discussing this here:
And it’s true – the starving man ignores morality and social conventions in order to eat – he will steal, lie, manipulate and resort to violence just to feed himself and his family. On a simpler level we all know that when we don’t sleep well, we are never going to be our best selves, capable of the most compassion and the most creativity. We have to satisfy those basic needs first.
Schools play an important role in this as we approach the middle of the pyramid, in helping students to feel safe, like they belong and are appreciated and valued. Our school is a unique and warm community in which every child is seen and known for their specific skills and interests – one of the true privileges of working in a small educational community – and our House System provides a further level of support belonging and mentoring to help student feel safe, to feel a friend, and to be recognized.
Our wellbeing programs here do the rest.
Many of the five daily habits espoused by this Wellbeing Hive are about meeting those basic needs that allow us to work towards that all important and almost spiritual goal of being the best we can be.
The daily habits encourage us to exercise, eat well and rest to have energy for what is ahead. I would even argue that mindfulness belongs on that most basic level of the pyramid – our minds crave silence and opportunities to reflect.
Our work also continues to build the esteem of students as we encourage them all to find their spark within each of the 4As – athleticism, artistry, academics and adventure (whatever you define your adventure to be!).
Without all of these increasingly complex things – we cannot be our best selves. And it is some of our school values that perhaps best reflect what it means to be self-actualised. To become the most that we are in particular the value so Courage, Character and Curiosity must play a role. But the levels below must be satisfied first through good habits, a quiet mind, safe spaces, strong connections and inspiration and achievement to get there.
Now you might ask – why have I not mentioned the daily habit of reading? What role does this play? It’s not that reading plays a secondary or less important role than anything I have mentioned so far – it’s actually that my personal belief is that reading is so important it fits into almost every level.
To me, reading is mindfulness, quiet and reflection that I cannot do without each day. It is an oasis in a busy world at times, a basic need I must fulfill. It helps me feel belonging by tapping into characters and ideas that reflect how I would like the world to be. The learning I do, especially in reading non-fiction builds my esteem and my intellectual freedom – all things right before that all-important level of Self-Actualisation. And reading helps me there too. What I learn and feel from books is instrument in my becoming the person I most desire to be – the best version of myself.
Embracing some simple habits and recognizing that these are crucial to your wellbeing and overall success in life is an important thing for schools to promote, especially in these hectic modern times. It is my hope that this article perhaps helps you recognize just how important those small things to do each day to maintain our balance are… things that you might like to make a part of your personal wellbeing plan – like all of our senior students are doing.