Honoring the Forefathers: Abraham Maslow and the Quest for Self-Actualization

Abraham_MaslowA couple of days ago, I shared some memorable quotes coined by Viktor Frankl whom most people consider to be the biggest influence on research related to meaning in life (and work).

Today, I´d like to honor another luminary, the person who actually coined the term Positive Psychology in the 1950s: Abraham Maslow, probably best-known for his hierarchy of needs framework (mostly depicted as the “pyramid of needs” you´ll find in a lot self-help and management books).

Here are some of his most intriguing thoughts:

Abraham Maslow on Self-Actualization

It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be.

—–

We fear our highest possibilities. We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under conditions of great courage. We enjoy and even thrill to godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities.

Abraham Maslow on Purpose in Life

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.

Abraham Maslow on Other-Orientation

The needs for safety, belonging, love relations and for respect can be satisfied only by other people, i.e., only from outside the person. This means considerable dependence on the environment. A person in this dependent position cannot really be said to be governing himself, or in control of his own fate. He must be beholden to the sources of supply of needed gratifications. […] He must be, to an extent, “other-directed,” and must be sensitive to other people’s approval, affection and good will.

—–

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard.

Abraham Maslow on Perseverance and Post-Traumatic Growth

Not allowing people to go through their pain, and protecting them from it, may turn out to be a kind of over-protection, which in turn implies a certain lack of respect for the integrity and the intrinsic nature and the future development of the individual.

—–

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.

Abraham Maslow on Appreciation, Awe, and Gratitude

The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy.

Abraham Maslow on Mindfulness

I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

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