When exercising today, a fascinating question occurred to me: Why do we humans have the need to organize? And is it a basic need?
The fact is, humans have been organizing and cataloging the world for a long, long time.
Google’s goal is to catalog the whole Internet.
In 18th century, Denis Diderot wanted to collect all of the world’s knowledge in his Encyclopédia .
Philosophers have been creating systems using which they wanted to comprehend the whole world.
And even before that, agrarian societies have been organizing the land into fields and pastures.
But why is that?
Why do we value order over chaos? Why is it SO OBVIOUS to us that dividing a land into several fields is far better than just randomly growing crops?
Well, let’s see. This is the Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs – I’m sure you’ve already seen it:
Here’s the thing -
Being organized provides you with SAFETY.
Living a disorganized life is very stressful, as you never know if there is any danger waiting for you (unpaid bills, disappointed friends, forgotten appointments, or even loss of income or home).
Security, stability, freedom from fear – that all sounds like something that being organized can give you.
But being organized also gives you SELF-ESTEEM.
Among other things, having self-esteem means that you just know you can deal with whatever life throws at you.
When you are organized, you are more in control. You are the master of your life. Achievement is easier for you. You know you can deal with things, since you know what there is to be dealt with in the first place.
And once you fulfill your self-esteem needs, SELF-ACTUALIZATION becomes an important need for you as well. This is where your express your creativity and talents. This is where you find purpose and fulfillment.
The Maslow’s pyramid is hierarchical.
When you don’t have SAFETY, it means that one of your most basic indeed is not being met. This lack will constantly occupy your attention. In other words, when you are disorganized, you just don’t feel completely stable, secure and free from fear.
It’s similar with your SELF-ESTEEM needs. When disorganized, it’s just difficult to feel like a master of your life and attain achievement, respect and recognition.
When these important needs are not met, your highest needs of SELF-ACTUALIZATION (creativity, fulfillment, purpose) can’t be fully expressed and met either, since you are preoccupied with your unmet lower needs.
I think the conclusion is clear -
Being organized is a basic human need. When it’s not met, you simply can’t live to your full potential – and you might not even want to, as you will be preoccupied with mere “survival” in the complex modern world.