Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Self-Actualization: Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) is best known for his "Hierarchy of Human Needs," which demonstrated 5 levels of human need, the lowest being the animal, instinctive needs, which are the most powerful, leading upward to the more human needs, which are weaker, yet more sublime. According to Maslow, a self-actualized individual is one who attends to the highest needs (see graphic). It is an interesting exercise to examine the pyramid and seek to find the level on which you are most focused.

In Maslow's model, there are 8 ways someone may self-actualize:

1. Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly. Throw yourself into the experiencing of something: concentrate on it fully, let it totally absorb you.

2. Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.

3. Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say, and so on, and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel.

4. When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing.

5. Listen to your own tastes. Be prepared to be unpopular.

6. Use your intelligence, work to do well the things you want to do, no matter how insignificant they seem to be.

7. Make peak experiencing more likely: get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not.

8. Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don't like, what is good and what is bad for you, where you are going, what your mission is. Opening yourself up to yourself in this way means identifying defenses--and then finding the courage to give them up.

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