Friday, August 08, 2008


Larry Portzline e-mailed me this list. Most teachers are familiar with psychologist Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (see the chart below), but I'd never seen these Ways to Self-Actualize before. (Note: The term "self-actualization" was coined by organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein and describes a person's desire to realize all of his or her potentialities.)

After doing some research, I discovered that these are partial quotes/partial paraphrases from Maslow's book The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. In any event, they're worth reading.

Abraham Maslow's 8 Ways to 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.

Note: I found the above chart on one of Maslow's Wikipedia pages. Click here to read the article.


  1. Hello!

    Very interesting and useful post!

    Have a good day!

  2. Thanks, Joseph! Hope you're having a good day, too!

  3. P.S. I just went to your blog (Life in Motion). Great attitude!

  4. Anonymous8:07 PM

    I admire your efforts to inspire, to challenge, and to overcome, however I am dismayed by your admiration of Abe Maslow and his Self-Centered Actualization concepts. Even he acknowledged the limited and very subjective nature of his conclusions. He said, " By ordinary standards of laboratory research...this simply was not research at all. My generalizations grew out of my selections of certain kinds of people." (i.e. his profound respect for Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer). Be that as it may, his greatest flaw was his failure to take serious account of the darker side of man's nature. It is therefore not surprising that Maslow's "feel-good, self-centered, get in touch with your inner-self" concepts have become the foundation of soul-less humanistic phychology...the only truth being that which we experience with our (good or evil) senses. What a pernicious crock.

  5. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Honestly, I don't know much about Maslow, other than what I learned while getting certified to teach. (Deservedly or not, he's held in high esteem in education programs.) But your comment made me realize that I need to better vet the people, philosophies, etc. that I devote space to on this blog. Readers have a right to assume that what I post, I stand behind. In this instance, a friend of mine sent me the list. It looked inspiring. So after checking the source, I posted it.

    I'd love to know, by the way, why you believe Maslow's conclusions are "pernicious" and why you term them "soul-less." If you can convince me that they are indeed these things, I will take down the post. My desire is to do good, not harm.