Last week’s personal musings on self actualization brought in a lot of notes from readers who appreciated the thoughts. I also got a message that reminded me that toward the end of his life, Abraham Maslow amended his hierarchy of needs to add a new pinnacle — self transcendence.
Maslow’s hierarchy is an expression of what motivates us to act. When you’re hungry and in need of shelter, you’re not thinking of self actualization. But as your basic needs are met, you begin to think in terms of becoming your best self.
I use the word transcend on Further in the philosophical sense, to mean growing beyond your current self. After all, that’s why I say “keep going” in every issue.
Maslow meant it in a different way:
- At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential [whereas] at the level of transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others.
In my experience, the idea of being of service to others is simply an expression of being your best self, without necessarily experiencing transcendence as Maslow defined it. For example, in my 19 years as an entrepreneur, I know first hand that putting others first is the mechanism by which I succeed.
So is that some form of transcendent selflessness? After all, I know benefit will flow back to me, even if I don’t always know how.
Or, let’s look at philanthropy. Being viewed as a charitable person certainly returns tangible benefit to the giver in both society and business. Even anonymous donors experience deep personal satisfaction from giving, which is a form of gratification to the ego.
In other words, by Maslow’s definition, one can achieve the appearance of transcendence. But I’d argue the self is still firmly in place as the primary driver of the motivation to serve others.
To me, true transcendence is a form of spiritual enlightenment. To be in the world, but no longer of it.
Regardless, I think we can all agree that those who put the needs of others first are people we admire and hopefully strive to emulate. But maybe it’s just another aspect of being your best self, rather than some mystical-sounding achievement.
- The Hierarchy of Human Needs: Maslow’s Model of Motivation
- Summary of Maslow on Self-Transcendence
- The Real Maslow’s Hierarchy… And Why This Billionaire Refused To Just Sit On The Beach
Low Fat Fail
“During the late 1990s and early 2000s, typical diet advice placed a lot of emphasis on eliminating fat in order to lose weight. Unfortunately, many people reached for foods with limited fat and found themselves hungry all the time.”
One of the easiest way for me to be “in the now” is while hiking. I just naturally become mindful of the surroundings, my movements, and breath. You can also do purposeful walking meditation while out on the trail.
Early Morning Athlete
Will working out first thing in the morning give you and athlete’s mindset? That’s how it worked for psychologist Shauna Springer.
The Olympic Peninsula is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle. And yet, it’s surprising that many people born and raised in the Pacific Northwest have never ventured out into the wild beauty of those mountains and beaches.
Mellow in Maldives
The Maldives is home to perhaps the best beaches in the world; they’re on almost every one of the country’s nearly 1200 islands and are so consistently perfect that it’s hard not to become blasé about them.
Why does inequality in performance and success happen? Why do a few people, teams, and organizations enjoy the bulk of the rewards in life?
Work Ethic Violation
We talk a lot about intrinsic motivation on Further, and how it’s usually a good thing compared with being motivated solely by external rewards. But when your motivation for work is internal, it can be hard to know when to call it quits.
Historically, the last entry has been true of me. Work was all I cared about excelling at. Curating Further over the last two years has helped me to find more meaning in other aspects of my life, which will become mandatory as machines do more of the work.
Speaking of machines, radical scientists and billionaire backers think the technology to extend life — by uploading minds to exist separately from the body — is only a few years away. I’m still not sure I see this as desirable.
This hilarious bit of satire aims squarely at the “perfect” personal development guru whose quality of life leaves the rest of us behind. Sadly, I recognize every buzzword and bit of guru jargon in the piece.
Please forward this issue of Further to a friend who could benefit from it. Or use these easy social options: