Participating in life isn’t just about being pulled along passively. But, in order to participate fully, it’s important that some basic needs are met. So, what motivates you?
According to Abraham Maslow, it is human needs that motivate human behavior most. There are several levels in the Hierarchy of Needs Maslow himself created.
In order to move onto the next level, the previous level’s needs must first be met. It’s like leveling up in a video game, but it’s real life.
Ultimately, the point is we are all supposed to be everything we can be. But before you can reach that point you have to have the rest of the puzzle pieces in place.
Participation in life is a basic human need, but it also hits other levels on the Hierarchy of Needs. You can’t fully participate in life if you don’t have food in your belly, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and your basic needs met. You can’t find safety and security until you deal with those physiological needs.
Without physiological needs, safety, and security covered, you can’t reach a place of love and belonging. With all of those, you can reach self-esteem and then eventually achieve self-actualization. Once you’ve covered all of those levels, you can move on to self-transcendence. Participation in life is part of every single level on the hierarchy because you can’t complete any of them unless you are actively participating.
Participating in Life Requires
Without your preferences, it’s difficult to motivate yourself to participate in every aspect of life. Generally, we participate in the activities we value, those we find meaning in, or connect us to people we care about. Our interests evolve with age, they dissipate, and reappear, or fall away altogether.
What is participation in life? It could be helping others, influencing others, developing relationships, being a part of something, and exercising beliefs/values. You can have multiple motivations, but your values may be the biggest motivator of all. The factors integral to your self-image and identity are what you need to understand before you reach the point of proper participation.
As with any action, there is always a trigger. Something that triggers you to participate. It may be an emotional reaction, whether it was anger at a political decision that led you to run for office. Or a joy that led you to volunteer to help others.
There may also may a motivating personal life event, such as a death, birth, marriage, or divorce. Natural disasters can serve as external influences to participate. A trigger is merely a passing influence, it’s how you respond to it that can change your life.
It’s easier to participate when you have the resources to do so, whether it’s money, time, or emotional energy. There are practical resources, such as money, time, health, etc. There are learned resources, such as your skills and experience. Then there are felt resources, which is self-confidence. Your social circle is another resource because your personal relationships provide you with emotional and practical support.
Ultimately, you make the choice to participate in life. You make the decision to engage at every level of need. However, in order to fully participate, you need opportunity and when opportunities arise, you need to grab them with both hands. It’s why there are so many groups and organizations trying to draw people in to participate.
Finally, a lack of participation can lead to isolation and loneliness. By now, we know the dire physical and mental health consequences related to isolation. It starts somewhere, so make conscious decisions to participate in life. You only get one chance, there are no repeats.