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The One Thing That Is More Important Than Social Needs: Self Actualization

Close your eyes, and imagine the best possible version of yourself. Are you similar to your current self, with a few minor improvements? Or are you a whole different person?

If you feel like you’ve got a long way to go, don’t worry. Self actualization, or the reaching of your full potential, can be tricky to achieve.

Self actualization is an essential human need

Reaching self actualization basically means becoming the best version of yourself. That could include regularly using your talents, developing your strengths and achieving your goals. Some psychologists consider self actualization to be an essential human need as significant as eating and drinking.

Self actualization is even more important than social needs

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow created the hierarchy of universal human needs. 1 The needs are arranged in a pyramid, withbasic requirements like food, water and shelter at the bottom, social needs like friendship and family in the middle, and self actualization needs at the top.

In order to start reaching our full potential, we first need to fulfill our basic needs. In modern times, this is becoming easier and easier, meaning we have more time to dedicate to becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. 2 However, there’s no point in having that opportunity if we don’t bother to use it.

Dedicate some time to self actualization, and you might be amazed by how much happier and more fulfilled you feel.

Maslow’s work on self actualization was based partly on case studies of historical figures who he believed had reached self actualization. These figures included Albert Einstein and Henry David Thoreau.

Maslow believed that those who has achieved self actualization shared certain key traits:

  • They accept themselves, their life, and their circumstances.
  • They embrace the unknown, rather than fearing it.
  • They focus on solving large problems, rather than small personal issues.
  • They are open-minded towards new ideas and the beliefs of others.
  • They have a strong feeling of personal freedom and autonomy.
  • They cultivate a small number of intimate relationships, rather than many superficial friendships.
  • They fully appreciate life and the world around them.
  • They have a strong feeling or purpose and are motivated by growth.

Sounds too good to be true? By changing your mindset and following a few simple steps, you can start your own journey to self actualization.

Interesting ways to achieve self actualization

Self actualization sounds a little vague, which makes it hard to work out exactly what we should be doing to achieve it. Try out the simple strategies below to start your journey to becoming your true self.

Describe your ideal day

Grab a sheet of paper, and write a description of your ideal day. Imagine there are no limits to your talents, abilities or finances. What do you spend your day doing?

Look at the activities you’ve included in your perfect day, and try to find ways to incorporate them into your current life. If you’re a CEO of a huge charity in your ideal life, why not set up a local fundraiser now? If you’re a famous musician, how about buying a cheap guitar and getting lessons? Each action you take brings you closer to your ideal reality.

Write your perfect eulogy

This one can be really enlightening. Imagine you’ve died, and write the eulogy you’d like to see. It could include your major achievements, related to either career or personal life, your interests, your relationships, and the ways you’ve changed the world. Now consider what you need to do to make that eulogy a reality.

Examine your role models

Make a list of your top role models, including five or more. Now, write down a list of traits for each role model, and see which of them keep popping up. This is an excellent way to work out what your priorities are. If all of your role models are creative and driven, try to cultivate those attributes in yourself. If they’re generous and kind, make an effort to be more caring to the people in your own life.

Create a bucket list

Making a list of things to do before you die is a great way to get focused and realize what’s really important to you. Having a vague idea of things you’d like to do is good, but taking the time to actually write a list makes it much more likely that you’ll actually achieve your goals. Try to include items which you can complete now, as well as more long-term dreams.

Here are some example bucket list items to help you get inspired:

  • Visit every continent
  • Learn to play piano
  • Build your own house
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Read 50 books in one year
  • Get a tattoo
  • Go skydiving

Use your imagination, and don’t be afraid to think big.

Achieving self actualization takes time and effort, but it’s so worth it. Who doesn’t want to become the best version of themselves?

References

[1]^Wikipedia: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
[2]^Huffington Post: Why Self-Actualization Is the Next Big Market
 
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