Philosophy Lite: Productivity key to happy life

Feb. 25, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 24, 2011 at 8:25 p.m.

Raymond Smith

Raymond Smith

By Raymond SmithAbraham Maslow (1908- 1970) was a humanistic psychologist who developed a hierarchy of human needs.

Maslow illustrated the hierarchy with a triangle that held five levels of need:

n At the bottom was man's basic needs: water, air, food and sleep.

n The second tier was security needs: steady employment, good health and shelter from the environment.

n The third tier was social needs: acceptance, social groups, love and affection.

n The fourth tier was esteem needs: personal worth, social recognition and accomplishments.

n The fifth and top tier of the triangle: self-actualization needs, which referred to man becoming all that he might become.

For purposes of this writing, I will speak to a part of this need, which includes the idea of productivity.

In the beginning, man was given the ability to build, create, improve and produce. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given the responsibility of caring for the garden. They may have existed there for many years, we don't know, but for certain, they had the reward of seeing the effects of their labors. We still have the responsibility of caring for God's world, but we now have the resources and tools to do almost anything we set our minds to. This work can be done for our own pleasure and for the betterment of society.

Productivity is one of God's greatest gifts. Those who do not understand this may spend an entire lifetime in mediocrity and boredom. Many young people spend their years in mischief and crime because they do not make anything of their lives.

The builder can stand back and look at the construction he has completed and take pride in his accomplishment. For years afterward, he can tell his friends, "that was my work" - and go on to say, "you should see what I am working on now."

Miller Nichols once said that he didn't enjoy sitting on the patio as much as he enjoyed building it.

Man gets his dignity and self worth from constructive work. Booker T. Washington said, "No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

There are many secrets of life that we may learn, but many of them are taught, not caught. The child who is taught the benefits of work and who is given chores to do will undoubtedly do better in life and is much less likely to become a drain on society.

Considering the diversity of man and his interests, it should be no wonder that we all can work so well together: the banker, the mechanic, the baker and the electrician, for example. Each does his part to make society work smoothly.

When some retire, they are not content to sit and watch TV, but are active in some constructive hobby like photography, wood carving or gardening. Others become active doing benevolent work for the community.

Perhaps those who are productive here on Earth will be given more rewarding tasks in heaven.

Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and president of Strong Families of Victoria.



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