“Good character happens when we turn virtues into habits”.
-Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
This quote resonates with many who long for personal growth and fulfillment.
But how does it relate to self-actualization?
It’s simple. Self-actualization is a journey toward the fulfillment of our highest needs. In fact, this concept helps us get closer to the true meaning of life. And it’s hard to get a hold of the meaning of life without compassion, love, respect, and ethics.
However, there is more to self-actualization than just basic virtues. A person needs to find inner balance and autonomy to reach their highest needs.
What Does It Mean To Be Self-Actualized?
According to psychology, the self-actualization definition is having the ability to reach one’s full potential.
This term also refers to being able to deal with the dichotomies of life. They can be unconscious and conscious, unintentional and intentional, deterministic and free. However, most of these opposites are not resolvable on their own.
People who are truly self-actualized call on creativity to resolving these dilemmas. They often choose art as a tool to find the right balance. Art is known to draw parallels between determinism and freedom and the unconscious and the conscious.
In addition, to be self-actualized means having peak experiences. These are experiences that open new horizons in life. They are accompanied by overwhelming feelings of awe and wonder. And these peak experiences signify that something valuable and important has happened.
Who is a self-actualized person?
People who are self-actualized share several common traits.
So, what does full actualization look like? What are the characteristics of a self-actualized person?
First, they have an ongoing freshness of appreciation. In plain English, it’s the ability to cherish the goodness of life, no matter how simple it might be. A self-actualized person keeps finding joy, wonder, and ecstasy in experiences that might seem plain to others.
Next, this notion refers to a high degree of acceptance. It means understanding personal desires and quirks without the need to apologize or feel shameful.
Furthermore, those who reach self-actualization keep their dignity regardless of the situation and environment.
The acceptance of ups and downs goes hand in hand with dignity. Self-actualized people have a clear purpose in life. There’s a particular mission which they approach with duty and responsibility. And they have the ability to perceive things as they are.
A self-actualized person is capable of understanding the truth about nature and other people. An honest desire to help the humankind comes as a result. Great acts of humanitarianism are not uncommon. You can look at Mahatma Gandhi’s story as a good example of a truly self-actualized person.
Finally, these people exhibit great moral intuition. They know something is right or wrong as soon as it happens. It applies to their own doing and, of course, the actions of others.
They are able to identify and fulfill the self-actualization needs not only of themselves but of others.
How Do You Determine Self-Actualization?
To determine self-actualization, you have to take a close look at yourself and ask a few key questions.
Do you frequently express doubt? Do you have pessimistic thoughts? Maybe you tend to get out of control?
Self-actualized people are capable of protecting high goals and resist distractions from negative thoughts and impulses. When faced with obstacles, self-actualized people apply constructive thinking to overcome them. And their goals and priorities aren’t directionless.
In addition, you should consider what motivates you. Those with high self-actualization are motivated by exploration, growth, and love for others. A good way to set yourself on this path is to stay curious, build positive relationships, and maintain high personal autonomy.
This doesn’t only apply to your personal life. In fact, those who reach high levels of self-actualization usually excel at their work.
They maintain top performance in various fields, from art to business. At the same time, self-actualized people are more satisfied with their work. Plus, they exhibit greater creativity, skill, and talent to deal with all the requirements in their area of expertise.
On top of that, there is a link between actualization and humor. Self-actualized people are capable of accepting a good joke at their own expense and find joy at the moment.
What is self-actualization Maslow?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often depicted as a pyramid. The fulfillment of each step takes a person closer to the top level of self-actualization.
Basic human needs populate the bottom two levels of the pyramid. These levels include physiological needs like breathing, sleep, food, water, and excretion.
The need for safety is the next step up. People seek personal security, the safety of their family and belongings, stable employment, etc.
The middle of Maslow’s pyramid is love and belonging, the beginning of psychological needs. This refers to building stable, fulfilling relationships with friends and family. This section also involves the need for sexual intimacy as a way to create a stable partner relationship.
Up next is the need for esteem. High esteem comes from building confidence through achievements. In turn, this boosts self-esteem, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of others. Those with high esteem respect other people and expect to be respected as well.
Satisfying all these needs brings you to self-actualization – the top of the pyramid. People who reach the top are spontaneous and creative. They have great problem-solving capabilities and a high sense of morality.
Motivation also plays an important role in the path to self-actualization. According to Maslow’s theory, human motivation has the ability to prioritize. In other words, it is hard to move up if some of the needs from the bottom of the hierarchy are not met.
The bottom line
Self-realization is a personal journey to achieve the highest goals in life. It involves the fulfillment of individual needs, but it’s hard to meet these needs without the support of those that surround you. Therefore, it’s important to show mutual respect, compassion, and kindness.
How self-actualized are you? Feel free to share your personal insights with the rest of the community.