Identity and Self-Actualization

“The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world.” –Roger Williams

Humanistic Psychology is a branch of Psychology that focuses on human potential and the healthy, whole person. American Psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated his Hierarchy of Needs diagram to explain the various levels of needs we all have, culminating in Self-Actualization—the full realization of one’s potential (or Transcendence, a future level added later).

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid

Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

  • Accepting and Realistic—Respectful of others, objective, nondiscriminative, compassionate, embracing and enjoying all cultures
  • Problem Solving—Concerned with helping others and solving problems in the world, responsible, ethical
  • Spontaneous—Open, creative, original, unconventional, true to self, sense of humor
  • Independent—Comfortable being alone, nonconformist, form own opinions and views, a few close friends rather than many surface relationships
  • Appreciative—View world with wonder and awe, curious, interested in everything
  • Have Peak Experiences—Experience moments of intense joy, awe, and ecstasy, which inspire and transform them
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