Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs is an extremely valuable tool in understanding how happiness is achieved and maintained.
Maslow’s hierarchy is usually envisioned as a pyramid, with the most basic and immediate physical needs at the base of the pyramid and the more esoteric emotional needs at the top.
As each of our levels of needs are met, we start to worry about the next level of the pyramid. A person who cannot breathe does not spend a lot of effort worrying about self-esteem issues. But, when his physiological needs are met, he does begin to worry about his safety needs.
People at one level of the pyramid often mistakenly believe that they will be happy if only they can get to the next level. Then, when they achieve the next level they are surprised to discover that they are not happy.
One incredibly important key to happiness is to enjoy the process of moving up the pyramid. As each new level is achieved, there will be a temporary rush of joyful celebration — but it will soon subside as you acclimate to the new level and see the challenges presented by the level still above you.
Achieving stable and lasting happiness requires that you are able to appreciate the progress you have made and the joy that you will receive at each level of the pyramid. The requires a holistic viewpoint of the struggles of your life, an understanding that these struggles are a gift, and an appreciation of the joy that these struggles can bring. Happiness in life comes not from achieving a destination, but from appreciating the journey along the way.