Sometimes, I think we forget to appreciate what we actually have in our lives. We have a roof over our heads, can afford food and luxury items afforded by good jobs and a secure environment. I have been reflecting back to something from my training days – The Maslows Heirachy of Needs.

For those of you who are not familiar with Maslow his theory of human motivation derived from observing human behaviour. He determined that human behaviour is divided into 5 stages of human growth. The first 4 layers of the pyramid contain deficiency needs and when they are not met people feel out of sorts place with life in general. Life itself could be at risk if Physiological needs are not met, no food no shelter, no warmth and you certainly could be in trouble.

Maslows Heirachy of Needs
Maslows Heirachy of Needs

Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire the secondary or higher level needs. That said the human brain being what it is we can focus on multiple levels in parallel and therefore have multiple motivations working.


The level of Maslow that has been on my mind is love and belonging. Every person has a need to maintain emotionally significant relationships such as friendship, family and intimacy. We need to feel accepted among social groups, religious groups, professional organisation with co-workers.

Despite my independant nature, like many people I am susceptible to loneliness and social anxiety in large groups. I often feel like a fish out of water and cannot think of the simplest things to say to start a conversation. I guess part of this journey is about finding that sense of belonging with my new venture – where do I belong now that I have changed my professional group?

I am lucky with with many aspects of the Maslow hierarchy including the multitude of friends that are like family to me from all across the globe. They come in many shapes, sizes, colours, cultural backgrounds and religions. This got me thinking about what draws people together as friends and why do they stick around?

The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means “family.” It implies the presence of the deepest connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades from the distant past or people who’ve made a similar commitment and therefore share a similar destiny.

Kenzoku describes the characteristics that draws people to each other as the following; Common Interests, History, Similar Ideals/Principles and Equality in the relationship. This makes perfect sense but why are there some people out of that group of characteristics that become “Kenzoku” to us when others also hold these characteristics?

What is a true friend? Someone who is committed to your happiness but won’t stop from telling you something you don’t want to hear, especially if it lies in your best interest. They will correct you when you’re wrong or confront you with a problem. The list of things that a true friend does ties back to the Kenzoku characteristics e.g., not compromising principles, inspires you to live up to your best self and potential.

Of course, we all have friends who fit all these criteria and still don’t quite feel like family. There still seems to be an X factor, an attraction that cements friends together irrevocably, often immediately, for no reason either person can identify. But when you find these people, these kenzoku, they’re like priceless gems.

I am lucky enough to have several friends that I would class as “Kenzoku” in my life, they help me find a sense of belonging, no matter where I am in the world or where they are from. They are like finding home. So I would like to give a huge shout out to my friends, my family, my Kenzoku because I do realise just how lucky I am !