Man's Spiritual Needs
In the same way as man has physical needs in life which he strives and struggles to fulfil, the soul too has needs that must be satisfied. These spiritual needs and urges have been placed by the hands of creation in the depths of his soul.
The soul craves for appreciation and recognition, and it is for the sake of satisfaction of this inner urge that everyone so eagerly seeks social approval for his acts and conduct and is keen to receive the appreciation that he deserves. This helps reaffirm his personality and fulfils his aspirations and expectations.
Since self-love is inherent in man, he is in passionate love with his own creative achievements and intellectual and artistic accomplishments. Hence encouragement and appreciation play a most basic role in the motivation of individuals, and this is one of the most essential facts of social life. Appreciation, while being the simplest and cheapest kind of medicine, is so marvellously effective that it can infuse new life into a torpid and impoverished society and open before it new vistas of life.
On the contrary, parsimony in showing appreciation and absence of encouragement are big obstacles in the way of society's progress and growth. They prevent latent capacities and talents from blossoming by causing lethargy, apathy and isolationism, which take the place of creativity and dynamism.
Young people who have mentally and emotionally entered a critical phase of life and reached the threshold of independent life need, more than anything else, appreciation and encouragement to actively advance in life and to apply greater effort.
Bertrand Russell says:
Praise should not be given for anything that should be a matter of course. I should give it for a new development of courage or skill, and for an act of unselfishness as regards possessions, if achieved after a moral effort. All through education any usually good piece of work should be praised. To be praised for a difficult achievement is one of the most delightful experiences in youth, and the desire for this pleasure is quite proper as an added incentive, though it should not be the main motive. The main motive should always be an interest in the matter itself, whatever the matter may happen to be ...
All moral instruction must be immediate and concrete; it must arise out of a situation which has grown up naturally, and must not go beyond what ought to be done in this particular instance. The child himself will apply the moral in other similar cases. It is much easier to grasp a concrete instance and apply analogous considerations to an analogous instance than to apprehend a general rule and proceed deductively. Do not say, in a general way, 'Be brave, be kind,' but urge him to some particular piece of daring, and then say, 'Bravo, you were a brave boy;' get him to let his little sister play with his mechanical engine, and when he sees her beaming with delight say, 'That's right, you were a kind boy.' The same principle applies in dealing with cruelty: look out for its faint beginnings and prevent them from developing. 1
It is the biggest blow to the creative capacities of the young to show indifference to their accomplishments, to deprive them of recognition, and to set no store by their personality. Because when they feel that people think nothing of their work and the fruits of their effort are of no account to them and deemed worthless, they become greatly upset. Their growing capacities and talents lose their vigour and languish. Their sense of confidence and future hope die within their hearts. As their psychological need of security remains unsatisfied they become prone to psychic illness. That is because when an urge remains unsatisfied, it is repressed and becomes buried in the unconscious, giving rise to undesirable complexes that vex the mind.
Aside from this, when persons possessing knowledge and skill discover that the results of their labour and work cannot help them obtain recognition, their feelings of disappointment may radically alter the course of their thought and conduct. As a result, they may take recourse to improper methods in order to satisfy their psychological need. Instead of seeking spiritual excellence and human merit, they may resort to fraud, deceit, and other illegitimate means in order to obtain some kind of recognition in life. This is a fact which has been established by psychological findings.
1. Bertrand Russell, On Education (London: Unwin Books, 1966), pp. 95-96.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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