Abraham Maslow in his 'hierarchy of motives' (or needs) tells us that human beings have multiple levels of needs which which relate to our growth.  Maslow also tells us that until each lower level need is met, a person's development will tend to be arrested at that stage.  Here is a version of Maslow's hierarchy:

  • Physiological needs - food, clothing, shelter
  • Security and safety
  • Love and feelings of belonging
  • Competence, prestige, esteem
  • Self-actualisation
  • Self-transcendence (added by Viktor Frankl)

Maslow also makes the point that our priorities in the hierarchy change.  For example, we might be at one of the higher levels, say absorbed in some activity, and then we become hungry.  At this point, our physiological need for food would begin to take over.