What does it mean to “open your sail” for personal growth? Well, good question.
Further is ultimately about self-actualization. In simple terms, that means the process of living your best life.
Self-actualization is not about achieving some exalted plateau — there’s no destination to reach. It’s about the desire to experience the most you can be, which is a continual process that brings you closer to the transcendent.
It makes sense that the pursuit of self-actualization is not going to happen when you’re struggling with hunger and threats to your safety, or when you’re lacking human connection and self-esteem. That’s why Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is often represented as a pyramid with self-actualization at the top, above base physical and psychological needs that must be met first.
Thing is, Maslow never expressed his hierarchy as a pyramid. That’s because it’s not a mountain to climb, or a video game where you “level up” beyond lower stages. All of our needs must be addressed concurrently as one integrated whole in order for us to grow.
Scott Barry Kaufman offers a more appropriate metaphor in his book Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization. Equating the journey of life to a voyage across the seas, Kaufman says we need a sailboat, not a pyramid.
The boat protects you from the water, which is often choppy and chaotic. The bigger and stronger your boat, the safer you are when it comes to basic survival. Now add strong connections with fellow seafarers, and feelings of respect and worthiness allow you to weather larger storms.
You may feel safe now, but you won’t go much of anywhere. You also need sails, and more importantly, you need to open your sail to experience life to the fullest.
In this way, the sailboat isn’t a pinnacle but a whole vehicle, helping us to explore the world and people around us, growing and transcending as we do.
The boat itself represents safety, connection, and self-esteem (base physical and psychological needs). The open sail represents self-actualized growth through exploration, love, and purpose.
Note that you don’t “climb” a sailboat like you’d climb a mountain or a pyramid. Instead, you open your sail, just like you’d drop your defenses once you felt secure enough.
In our culture, the “good life” is often defined in terms of money, possessions, and social status. In psychological reality, your best life must be inherently defined on your own terms. What a relief, right?
Many of us spent our younger years climbing the hierarchy society presented us, chasing that money, those possessions, and the fickle status that’s reliant on the estimation of others. And then we hit our mid-forties, often feeling deeply unsatisfied despite our success and not understanding why.
It’s only when we hit the upslope of the U-shaped happiness curve around age 50 that we realize our self-esteem needs are now fulfilled internally. And this allows us to fully open sail and move in the direction of self-actualization.
While we all likely have some picture in our head of what a “self-actualized” person is supposed to be, it’s actually unique to every individual. Maslow said the point is to “enable people to become healthy and effective in their own style.”
Life isn’t a competition — it’s an experience. Open your sail and enjoy the adventure you’re uniquely intended to have.
Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization (Amazon Associates)
Four Seconds to Fit?
The minimum amount of time needed to get a viable workout keeps dropping, if you’re doing some version of high intensity interval training (HIIT). “A new study finds that a mere four seconds of intense intervals, repeated until they amount to about a minute of total exertion, lead to rapid and meaningful improvements in strength, fitness and general physical performance among middle-aged and older adults.”
Can 4 Seconds of Exercise Make a Difference? (New York Times)
(Don’t Go Back To) Officeville
Once you’ve had a taste of freedom, it can be hard to get back in the cage. That means many office workers may prefer to stay remote, but it depends on whether management feels differently about it.
Now a public company, Airbnb will continue to transform how travel experiences happen, while providing an entirely new habitation approach for those who want to go on a “perpetual business trip” and work from anywhere. Here are the places garnering the most interest as we head into (what we hope is) a less restrictive year.
Here’s an article from 2019 that will help you “open sail” effectively in 2021. It’s not what we own or what others think of us that makes us happy — it’s our personal experience of life. These 11 habits make that experience better.
Down below, Trudi explores the curious path to fulfillment. And in the Flashback, a song that becomes especially poignant in this new year.
P.S. New Year, new gear. We’re now rocking some cool “Keep Going” merch inspired by the iconic Run-DMC logo.
Sure, you can buy it in the Further store (along with the original Phoenix line). But why not get stuff for free? Simply share this issue of Further with these links that contain your unique referral code to earn points:
The Curious Path to Fulfillment
By Trudi Roth
Did you know that 2020’s top-searched word, according to Google, was “why”?
From the pandemic to social unrest and brand new threats (murder hornets, I’m looking at you), that’s not surprising. We humans instinctively seek information when facing fear and uncertainty.
But what about the rest of the time? As we age, we lose our child-like sense of wonder and, research shows, tend to become more apathetic and rigid. Even if you think you’re open-minded, the less you engage in novel experiences or question the familiar in new ways, the more vulnerable you are to cognitive and physical decline over time.
That said, exploring the unknown and meeting new people, particularly when we’re facing several more months of social distancing, may appear to be impossible. But that’s precisely why now’s the time to get curious like never before.
The simple definition of curiosity focuses on taking action by seeking out new experiences or knowledge. But it goes deeper than that as more of a state of being vs. doing.
As Todd Kashdan, author of the book Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life points out, the desire to know isn’t just a pursuit — it’s an orientation and an open, creative way of paying attention. It’s also a proven path to leading a more fulfilling and joyous life.
Although you might believe that certainty and control over your circumstances bring you pleasure, it is often uncertainty and challenge that actually bring you the most profound and longest-lasting benefits.
By questioning things and letting go of what you think you know, you naturally take on a growth mindset. This provides a mental reset that helps you unlock possibilities by igniting a sense of wonder and inspiration.
How to Cultivate Curiosity
Kashdan has developed a couple of models to measure curiosity, the most recent of which chunks curiosity into five “dimensions.”
It starts with “joyous exploration,” which is what you’d think: seeking new information or experiences. The next two dimensions involve your focus level and resilience in tolerating the discomfort of uncertainty presented by novel situations.
Next up is “thrill-seeking,” which means taking potentially rewarding risks ranging from extreme sports, to cryptocurrency investing, to a startup. And the last dimension is “social curiosity,” which involves showing an interest in other people’s perspectives and opinions.
All of this you can do from the comfort of your own home. It can be as simple as asking your partner questions you’ve never asked before, or choosing to run a different route or hike an unfamiliar trail.
As Kashdan points out, as long as you’re doing something new, you’re in the process of finding and creating meaning. And that’s a surefire way to thrive and find fulfillment — no question.
Counting Crows – A Long December
Recovering The Satellites, 1996
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