Self-Actualization—The Pinnacle of Self-Improvement
Self-actualization is often deemed to be the highest state of consciousness in an individual that is supposed to aim at the earthly sojourn. So instead of straying away from the true calling by millions of other things that are illusionary and non-consequential it means living a life of purpose.
Vivekananda had famously asserted that ‘Every individual is potentially divine’. So, why do we then experience so much discord, disharmony and violence everywhere we turn to look?
It is certainly recommended to take up this visualization exercise for a few minutes: Imagine yourself living life to the brim by:
- being alive to all the possibilities that life offers,
- by way of harvesting rich experiences from the bounty of existence,
- being aware of the total boundless potential of the human mind,
- taking off into the realm of make-believe with unfettered flight of imagination,
- experiencing the indescribable joy of creating something,
- living in an undivided state of consciousness,
- experiencing abundance, reverberating with pulsating positivity
– in a nutshell, all about being a self-realized individual!
Try to answer the questions as below:
Are you too far removed from reality? Is that not how life is meant be lived? Is this not the ultimate objective of our relentless pursuit of ever having an elusive secret to life of abundance and happiness?
How often does one come across people who can qualify about being called self-realized?
Can there be any place where one can learn to be happy with who one is, define the purpose of one’s existence and follow one’s calling?
Why then do we experience so much discord, disharmony and violence everywhere we look?
Probe a little deeper and one can sense the mind clouded by fear, doubt and negativity. This is compounded by mental inertia and letting the cloak of ignorance envelop us completely. This disables any attempt to propel us to a frame of mind that facilitates critical enquiry into the nature of things and ways of the world in order to see through the numerous digressions, illusions and aberrations that trap an originally curious mind in a swamp of deception, pretension and false realities.
In fact, the appeal of the illusory world is so great that the progress of an enlightened mind on the path to self-discovery comes to an unwilling standstill as the enamor of worldly charm is all consuming. It simply overpowers the seeker towards the ultimate truth.
Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person
We must visit the teachings of Abraham Maslow who is the leading figure in the tradition of humanistic psychology and the modern Positive Psychology movement.
His theory on the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ remains widely recognized and used.
Maslow in fact did study individuals whom he believed to be self-actualized, including Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein, to derive the common characteristics of the self-actualized person.
The most important characteristics from his book Motivation and Personality are below:
1) Self-actualized people embrace the unknown.
They are not threatened at all. Instead they do accept it, are comfortable with it and are more often attracted by it. They do not cling to the familiar as that is not in their nature.
Maslow quoting Einstein states that: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
2) They do prioritize plus enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
Please make a note that our subjects are somewhat more likely to appreciate things for their own sake, and in an absolute way, the doing itself. In such a situation it is occasionally possible for them to make out for the most trivial and routine activity an intrinsically enjoyable game or dance or play.
3) While they are inherently unconventional, they do not seek to shock or disturb.
The Self-Actualized person lives in a world of people in which one cannot understand or accept the unconventionality. Self-actualized people do usually behave in a conventional fashion simply because no great issues are involved or because they know people will be hurt or embarrassed by any other kind of behavior.
4) The Self- Actualized are motivated by growth, not by the satisfaction of needs.
The self-actualized person is completely focused on personal growth. They no longer strive in the ordinary sense, rather develop it. They do attempt to grow to perfection and then to develop their own style. The motivation of ordinary men is about striving for the basic need gratifications that they often lack.
5) Self-actualized people have purpose. That is a key essential.
They do have some mission in life, some tasks to fulfil, some problem outside themselves which enlists much of their energies. This is about choosing for themselves, about having purpose. This may be actually a task that they feel is their responsibility, duty, or even obligation. In general, these tasks are always nonpersonal or unselfish, totally concerned rather with the good of the mankind in general.
6) They are never bothered by the trivial things. Instead, they focus on the bigger picture which is in play.
In Self- Actualization people work within a framework of values that are broad and not petty, universal and not local, and in terms of a century rather than the moment. This impression of being above small things seems to impart a certain serenity and lack of worry over all the immediate concerns that make life easier not only for themselves but for all who are associated with them.
7) Self-actualized people are very grateful.
They do not take their blessings for granted, and by doing so, maintain a fresh sense of wonder towards the universe.
Self-actualizing people possess wonderful capacity to appreciate, the very basic goods of life, with an awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy. No matter how unpleasant these experiences may have become to others. Therefore, for such a person, any sunset may be as beautiful as the first one, any flower may be of breath-taking loveliness, even after he has encountered a million flowers. For such people, even the casual workaday, for a moment-to-moment business of living can be very enticing.
8) They share deep relationships with a few, but they often feel identification and affection towards the entire human race.
Self-actualizing people do tend to have deeper profound interpersonal relationships than any other adults. They are capable of more fusion, greater love, more perfect identification, more eradication of the ego boundaries than other people would consider possible. This exists from side by side with a wide-spreading benevolence, affection, and friendliness. Self-actualized people tend to be kind and friendly to almost everyone of a suitable character regardless of the class, education, political belief, race, or color.
9) Self-actualized people do resist enculturation
They do not allow themselves to be passively molded by culture. They do deliberate and make their own concise decisions, selecting what they see as good, and rejecting what they see as completely bad. They neither accept all, like a sheep, nor reject all, like the average rebel.
- often make up their own minds,
- come to their own decisions,
- are self-starters that are responsible for themselves and their own destinies.
Many people cannot make up their own minds, but do have their minds made up under the influence of advertisers, parents, TV, newspapers and so on. It is because of their self-decision that self-actualized people have the codes of ethics that are individualized and autonomous rather than actually being dictated by society.
10) Despite all this, self-actualized people are not perfect.
There are not perfect human beings! People can be found who are good in fact can be great. Yet these same people can at times be quite boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid the known disillusionment existing in human nature, we must learn first to give up our illusions about it.
Five steps you can take right now to accelerate your self-actualization:
Step 1: Get to know your core strengths (That is the ultimate beginning)
Understanding the strengths helps you save time and focus on what comes naturally to you.
It is all about following your bliss by doing what you love and what interests you.
Step 2: Learn how to stay in your center/ your space of occurrence.
It is a foundational skill for learning anything. It is the meaning of value derived from the occurrences which form a compatible and high-spirited person.
Step 3: Craft a personal vision for the person you are becoming.
The clarity this brings about is completely undeniable. This is the vision which makes one immerse from the disturbances.
Step 4: Placing and putting together a personal development basic plan.
A clear plan will help you cut through the distraction and focus on what is the most important thing to you.
Step 5: Walk your path toward self-mastery.
It is important to understand that we all fear and resist growth. That is what comes to us naturally.
The point to remember is knowing how to overcome resistance that is critical if you want to actualize your fullest potential.
Final Thoughts on Self-Actualization (The Ultimate Leveler)
Self-actualization, as Maslow explains, is a sign of positive mental health. Self-actualization is not for a gifted few. It is in fact everyone’s birth right.
Many of us do resist our self-actualization because of fear. It is Maslow who called it the “aborted self-actualization.”
In fact, we often do this without knowing it. When we are spending most of our time-consuming media, for example, we have walked off our path towards the same.
The good news makes room to the fact that as soon as we do realize it, we can start anew, right here and now.
Follow what you love; propose those things that light your fire and then ignite your curiosity and see where it will ultimately take you.
It is an awesome and dreamlike adventure leading towards desired discovery and growth.