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~ Article co-written by L. Michael Hall PhD and Shawn Dwyer ~

If people can and do experience life at too low a level on the hierarchy of needs, then what are people suppose to get and experience at the lower levels? Then if the “lower” needs, driven by deficiency, which when adequately gratified go away, then what? If these D-needs are instrumental and the B-needs are non-instrumental, then what are they the means to? Glad you asked! And the answer is simple and can be describe by a single word-vitality.

Vitality Needs

All of the lower needs are life-needs or necessities (requirements) for being alive. And in saying “being alive,” I don’t mean merely existing, getting by, surviving. I mean being fully alive to the human experience-to the adventure of life. Yet when we ask ourselves the questions about this level of vitality, most people are not fully alive. Are they? Okay, they may not be zombies, yet how many drag themselves through life, through their jobs, their relationships, and the activities of everyday life?

Vitality Complaints

And how many are full of everyday complaints about not being motivated, not having the energy to do things, and feeling that they have no passion about anything. They are bored. They don’t know what to do with themselves. Are they waiting for something. But what? By contrast, the idea of being fully alive to the adventure of life is our heritage. Just look at the life of a small child. Talk about being alive to the mystery and wonder and adventure of life! Talk about vitality! Then of course, we send them to school and they get most of it knocked out of them -all in the name of “education.”

Being Fully Alive

Now this being fully alive is the design of the Neuro-Semantic series, Self-Actualization Psychology. In fact, this is the name of the first module in that series, Unleashing Vitality. That’s where we start. Why?

What’s so important about vitality?

First, vitality is important first of all because we all use and need a lot of energy every day. After all, it takes
a good amount of energy (vitality) to actualize anything that’s important and meaningful to you- whether at home, work, or with some project that’s highly valuable to you. It also takes a lot of vitality to be able to handle life’s everyday demands at home and work. So if at the end of the day, you go home …
and go into your Energy Room and stand on your Joy Meter to see how much life and soul you have at the end of the day, and your Joy Meter is hardly registering- you’ve got a problem.

What is that problem?

You could have a vitality leak. Or you could have a vitality dampener. Somehow you are letting work or friends or family or children or chores or something suck the very life out of you! Even if your Joy Meter is only registering in the middle of the scale, you still have a problem. Something is happening that’s preventing you from living life with passion, and joy, and aliveness, and high motivation. I wonder what that is?

Second, vitality is important because without a strong sense of vitality or aliveness, you will not be feeling good.
You will be dragging yourself through life and work and activities rather than being full of the innate vitality that you were born with. Innate vitality?
Yes, we were born for that and as children we had that. So what happened? Were did our thrill and absorption and passion for learning go?

Wired for Vitality

In Self-Actualization Psychology, as developed by Maslow, Rogers, and others, we think of human nature as innately
wired for motivation- for vitality, energy, being alive, etc. This has tremendous applications. If we are, in our nature, in our biology, in our psychology, etc., wired for vitality, then we do not need for find some great Formula X that will solve our motivational problems. We do not need to add Formula X to our lives.

What’s needed is for us simply to eliminate the things that are downgrading, interfering, sabotaging, and throwing cold water on our vitality. Vitality is natural; devitalized is unnatural. So is depression, feeling demotivated, lacking energy, etc.

Vitality is natural.

And when you are taking care of your body as it needs to be taken care of- you will be beaming and energetic. Nor is this rocket science.  Among other things, it means eating right. If your body and brain is nutritionally deprived or trashed, you will not be able to think very well. It means moving your body. Today we call this experience by the disconcerting term, “exercise.” Moving your body means physical activity- walking, running, swimming, cycling, taking the stairs, dancing, standing up, moving around, sweating. Yes, sweating. That cleanses your body! If the state of being inactive and sweatless attracts you, you’ve chosen the wrong species to be born into. That describes the state of the dead, and you’ll be there sooner than you want. Now is the time to get active.

Sleep Vitality

When you are appropriately active, you will naturally get good sleep.Insufficient sleep reduces concentration and alertness. It undermines your ability to learn, solve problems and remember. Today just as so many people suffer from activity deprivation (exercise) so also many people suffer from sleep deprivation. They stay up too late mindlessly watching TV and then go through the day feeling the need for a nap and so readily able to nod off.


A healthy vitality shows up in not only in your level of energy and activity, not only in your restfulness, it shows up in your passion and ability to learn new things. There’s an innate passion for challenging your brain, for reading challenging materials and exercising your mind.  It will mean you won’t be satisfied with life on the couch flipping TV channels. So here’s to the rediscovering of your vitality- to becoming more fully alive to life’s adventure. See you soon at a The Coaching Centre training!

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