The theory is that you must reasonably satisfy lower-level needs before being in a position to meet higher-level growth needs. Only once all of these have been satisfied is it possible to arrive at a state Maslow referred to as “ self-actualization”.

In 1986, WHO refined its definition of “ health ” as not just an absence of disease or infirmity, but as a “ resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities ”. Live longer. Live better. Health is not simply a matter of meeting basic needs.

It can be said that ISO has excelled at providing solutions to meet a great many basic global needs over the years, by delivering an array of International Standards that address some of the world’s most basic safety, health, performance and security needs.

But does ISO have a role to play in helping to satisfy these soft, higher-level expectations, pushing the envelope to include higher aspirations ? The answer is “ Yes ”.

This issue of ISO Focus+ reveals how a number of important (and yet not-soobvious) projects and ideas have a part to play in helping us to satisfy needs emanating from issues related to self-esteem, independence and fulfillment.

Aromatherapy, for example, is used to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. It provides a potentially effective treatment using natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant.

The rising interest in aromatherapy and the use of essential oils translates into increased global attention to the quality, safety and consistency of these products. ISO standards can help provide the confidence needed so that these aspects are taken into consideration, and the potential for their beneficial effects can be achieved, without unnecessary worry.

Without a doubt, cosmetics contribute positively to people’s perception of themselves, directly affecting issues of self-esteem. ISO standards from technical committee ISO/TC 217, Cosmetics, help to ensure that the cosmetics consumers choose are both safe to use and deliver on their promises.

Assistive devices can provide a disabled person needed independence that all individuals desire, and have a right to.

ISO standards help ensure that these products are safe, effective and durable, helping to reduce disabled individuals’ reliance on others to perform everyday activities.

The ability to relax, to reflect and to gain perspective is also associated with the realization of high-order needs. A new ISO project on wellness spas can help ensure that service offerings in these important moments of relaxation are safe, secure and relevant to your wellness needs.

Finally, although it’s not (yet) an ISO standard, the Gross National Happiness (GNP) index developed by the Kingdom of Bhutan is inspired and ambitious. The index leapfrogs traditional linear indicators of national performance – such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The index shows us how a proper balance between material and spiritual wealth is necessary, and can be measured.

So will reading a technical ISO standard guarantee you happiness, fulfillment, sound physical and mental health ? No – although some may help you fall asleep and get needed rest !

But reading this ISO Focus+ issue will show you how certain standards and projects play their part in helping us realize higher-level needs on our own paths to “ self-actualization ”.