The self development that we discussed above does not just include learning, training, etc. It also includes relaxation, rejuvenation and all activities that contribute to making you a well-balanced and happy human. As I mentioned in the introduction, there is increasing scientific evidence indicating that humans will perform much better and feel happier when they spend time with friends, laugh a little, do things for fun and no other reason, be themselves, etc. Achieving optimal performance and getting the most out of life is not something that happens by getting the minimum amount of sleep we can get away with, swallowing a multivitamin then using some kind of multitasking technique to manage our day. This is a ridiculous and very narrow view of life and has no place in the MPI philosophy. Life wall has been developed to be a tool that enables us to see a snapshot of all aspects of our lives and make adjustments as required. This is the practical side of the MPI philosophy.
After all of this discussion about having maximum positive impact on humanity and the universe/ultimate system, at some point in time, the “theoretical rubber” must hit the “practical road”. At some point in time we have to develop a plan that allows us to figure out our life’s purpose, develop our passion and use it to have the biggest possible impact on the world while somehow paying the bills and getting some quality time with a friend or two and feeling good about it all.
In order to get as much happiness in your life as possible you need to do many things that range from survival needs like eating food, drinking water and getting sleep at one extreme all the way through to developing and refining your morality and researching how you will optimize your impact on humanity at the other extreme and many things in between. All of these things are components of an MPI life and are represented in the MPI Life Wall.
The MPI life wall is an adaptation of (and, I hope, an improvement on) Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Harold Maslow was a psychologist that developed a concept that described human needs as ordered in a hierarchy. The more pressing needs, such as those relating to survival, would need to be mostly satisfied before somebody could direct their attention to the next highest need in the hierarchy, such as those relating to personal development. Although Maslow himself never created a visual representation of the hierarchy of needs it is often presented in the form of a pyramid where physiological needs such as breathing, food, water, sleep etc. are at the base of the pyramid and they are followed by safety related needs above them, then needs relating to love and belonging above them, then needs relating to self-esteem above them and the peak of the pyramid was the place where people could achieve (what he called) self actualization. Although Maslow has received some criticism for this hierarchy of needs, mostly due to the fact that several of his assumptions break down when the concept is analyzed in detail (and I agree with this), the more general information conveyed by the hierarchy of needs is correct.
We obviously need to prioritize the inhaling of oxygen over allocating time for sleep and we have to prioritize sleep over learning to read and write and we have to prioritize learning to read and write over reading and entertaining novel. There are many aspects to our lives. Some of them are critical every minute of every day (such as organ function) while others are important but not a matter of survival (such as giving and receiving love and respect). We are constantly deciding how to allocate time and energy to different aspects of our lives in an attempt to achieve the optimal result.
However, the hierarchy of the various aspects of our lives is not linear (and this is where Maslow was justifiably criticized). For example, it is possible and it is common for people that have low incomes to allocate time and some money to charitable projects while they were living on their low incomes. They do not have to wait until they have reached the higher achievement level in Maslow’s hierarchy to act this way. Therefore, I have attempted to improve on Maslow’s hierarchy by adding some additional categories and avoiding the pyramid structure. The additional categories allow for a more practical analysis of the various aspects of our lives and utilize an improved breakdown of the aspects of our lives. Avoiding the pyramid structure allows for the possibility that any of us can do anything at anytime if we want to. In the life wall example below we can see how a person has rated their life wall components on a scale of 1 to 10 for each component. This rating is a snapshot in time and is totally subjective and made by each individual. The life wall can be used as a starting point to understand the current status quo then use it to develop goals. You can use totally free tools at iimagine.org to create and manage your own life wall.
The section below is a summary of the MPI life wall components. It is designed to create some context for the chapters that will follow where we will go into much more detail about each of the life wall components. The life wall components are broadly categorized into three categories – survival, comfortable life, pinnacle.
Level 1 existence – survival
The components in this section include body function, safety, food, water and sleep. Clearly we need these most basic aspects of our lives to be addressed is a priority. It’s very difficult for us to turn our attention to anything if we are concerned with our survival. If our safety is legitimately threatened then we cannot turn our attention to anything else. If we are hungry and dehydrated to a point where it threatens our survival than we cannot turn our attention to anything else other than solving this problem. If we want to have a positive impact on our own lives, the lives of people around us all the planet then it goes without saying that our first and foremost goal is to stay alive.
Level II existence – comfortable life
This is where the vast majority of people that live in developed countries exist. As a result of industrial age thinking we were led to believe that achieving commercial or academic success and earning the respect of others as a result of this success and nothing else was the pinnacle of life. As you probably figured out while reading the earlier sections in this chapter there is nothing necessarily wrong with commercial and academic success however it is a long way from being the pinnacle of anything significant.
Level III existence – pinnacle
This is where we finally get the opportunity to let the world know who we really are, what we really think and do something about it. This is where we have the ability to act on what we have learned, teach others about what we have learned, figure out how to make sure the world is a better place as a result of us being in it.
Next article in this series: “Life Wall Components“