NOTE: While the value & ‘legitimacy’ of the Maslow’s Pyramid in general & the Self-Actualizing level in particular are being debated by researchers, behavioral scientists, anthropologist & psychologists, (see evolutionary theories of Human Needs: “Renovating the Pyramid of Need“, and “Updated Maslow“), we can still use the original level #5 as a way to improve our life.
Self-development –To be actualized means living up to our true potential, & Maslow suggested ways to work towards this goal – not so different from current mental health ideas. It includes not taking things personally & being less defensive. Using our steadily guided by the True Self as a stable guide gives us the best chance of becoming & staying ‘in the zone’ .
Becoming self-actualized is not an end-state, but rather a life-long process. Maslow talked about it as ‘working to do well – the thing that one wants to do’. He also talked a lot about Transcenders’ ‘peak’ experiences, as ‘transient moments‘ of self-actualization. They’re times when we feel truly at peace & in harmony with our environment & the universe, marked by feelings of euphoria & deep joy.
Behaviors leading to self-actualization:
✩ Experience life as a child can, with full absorption & concentration
✩ Listen to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority
✩ Avoid pretense (‘game playing’) & be honest
✩ Try to identify your defenses & have the courage to give them up
✩Try new things instead of sticking to safe paths
✩ Be prepared to be unpopular if your views don’t agree with the majority
✩Take responsibility & work hard
♦ MSW Peter K. Gerlach‘s suggested that we can significantly improve our serenity & relationships by remembering that:
• At every moment, each of us are trying to fill a fluctuating pile of PMES needs (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual)
• Some needs are currently more important (intense) than others
• Each of us will identify, experience, & rank current needs differently
• Conflicting needs cause “problems” inside & between people
• To promote personal & social harmony, it’s useful to identify our current primary needs, rank them, & then fill the most important ones as best we can.
♦ From the Conscious Aging Institute:
In Western societies, we tend to want much more of the lower level needs in order to be satisfied, compared to Eastern peoples. Therefore, Western egos & desires for more objects & status often slow our progress toward self-actualization & transcendence, even are inhibited by them altogether.
♦ The Peak Performance Center had some suggestions to counted this trend. Maslow believed that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self actualized being. He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches. If we were taught to recognize our potential from our earliest years, we could achieve our dreams.
EDUCATORS can help / teach everyone:
• to see that our basic needs are satisfied, including safety, belonging & esteem
• to discover our vocation, calling, fate or destiny in life, especially focused on finding the right career & the right mate
• to accept ourselves as we really are, based on our inner nature. To be authentic, & hear the inner-feeling voice. From accurate awareness of our aptitudes & limitations we can know what our true potential is & what to build our life on
• that life is precious, that there’s joy to be experienced in life, & if we’re open to seeing the good & positive in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living
• to refresh our consciousness, by appreciating beauty & all good things in nature & life in general
• to be good choosers, & given practice to make the best possible ones
• that controls are good, & complete abandon is bad. It takes healthy self-control to improve the quality of life in all areas (Cartoon: Chris Wildt)
• to transcend our cultural conditioning & become world citizens
• to transcend life’s trifling problems, & grapple with the serious ones, including injustice, pain, suffering & death.
(from “Psychology – Search for Understanding”, Simons, Irwin & Drinnien)