Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2019

What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People

What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People

Have you ever heard of self-actualization? As someone who has been a personal development junkie for several years now, I was shocked to learn about self-actualization recently.

When I came across the term, I couldn’t help but think, “What is this self-actualization thing, and how have I gone so many years without hearing about it?”

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Perhaps you’ve read up on tons of other topics like self-limiting beliefs, how to gain more self-awareness, how to be more self-confident, but you’ve never heard of self-actualization.

Don’t fret! I’m going to give you a crash course on what self-actualization is and which 13 traits are most commonly found in a self-actualized person.

What is Self Actualization?

When I explore a new topic, I can’t help but start with examining the definition. This one comes from Google Dictionary:

“The realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”

In my research, I found that the concept of self-actualization came from Abraham Maslow. Maslow was an American psychologist who is best known for his hierarchy of innate human needs. Like all hierarchy’s, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is listed in order of priority and is often represented as a pyramid.

    At the bottom are physiological needs, such as food and water. Up from there is safety and then belongingness, which would include intimate relationships and friends. Above belongingness is esteem or things like prestige and the feeling of accomplishment.

    On the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy rests self-actualization. And as we’ve seen in the definition, this means that the highest of human needs is to achieve one’s full potential.

    Advertising

    So, if becoming a self-actualized person means realizing our greatest talents and achieving our greatest potential, how do we go about doing that? How do we achieve self-actualization?

    13 Traits of a Self-Actualized Person

    Let’s start by examining the top 13 traits of a highly self-actualized person and work backward from there.

    1. They Practice Acceptance

    Self-actualized people accept themselves and other people as they are, and they have no expectations for how people should be otherwise. They understand that no one is perfect, and they accept their own quirks, desires, and flaws as well as those of others.

    While many people wish they were different in some way, self-actualized people do not. They love themselves for who they are, and they do not apologize or feel guilt or shame for who they are.

    2. Self-Actualized People Are Authentic and True

    A self-actualized individual has a strong sense of who they are. They have a deep understanding of their beliefs and values, and they live in congruence with those beliefs and values.

    Because they accept and understand themselves, they are authentic and true to themselves. They do not pretend to be anything they are not. Not only are self-actualized people authentic, but they seek authenticity as well, both in people and in the world. They are quick to spot dishonesty.

    3. They Possess a Strong Sense of Realism

    Another characteristic of a self-actualized person is their sense of realism.

    To the average person, self-actualized people seem to have sound judgment or excellent gut instincts, but it’s far more than that. Their ability to logically and rationally evaluate the world allows them to spot dishonesties, fakes, and inconsistencies.

    Self-actualized people seek truth in everything they encounter, which gives then a keen ability to see behind the scenes more often than most people.

    4. They Live in the Here and Now

    Because self-actualized people are accepting and are grounded in reality, they are exceptionally good at living in the here and now. Self-actualized people do have goals, but they don’t focus on the future at the expense of the present.

    Advertising

    For the self-actualized, the journey towards a goal is just as important as achieving the goal, if not slightly more so.

    5. The Self-Actualized Are Autonomous and Independent

    Self-actualized people are highly independent and do not conform to the norms of society. They do not depend on people, the world, or any external factors for their happiness. Instead, they draw satisfaction from their own development and personal growth.

    They are comfortable being alone, and because they are so independent, self-actualized people are not bothered by the opinions that others may have about them. They accept themselves as they are, and the opinions of others cannot change that.

    6. They Have Excellent Moral Intuition

    Self-actualized people do not allow themselves to be molded by culture or by society. They have an excellent moral compass, and they are deliberate about their decisions. They reject what they see as bad or evil, and they adopt what they see as good.

    Because they are driven by their own moral intuition, they have a strong code of ethics that cannot be swayed by society.

    The self-actualized do not accept everything as black and white, right or wrong, They evaluate all sides of an issue and make their own decisions based on what they believe to be right and just.

    7. Self-Actualize People Seek Growth and Development

    Self-actualized people not only draw happiness from personal growth, but they are also intrinsically motivated to develop their potential.

    They have moved beyond Maslow’s first four hierarchies are no longer motivated by basic human needs. They know that they are capable of more in life and they’re driven to see how much they can grow.

    They also view their growth as a tool to help more people, not just themselves.

    8. They are Problem-Solving, Humanitarians

    Self-actualized people have a genuine desire to help the human race. They are quick to spot problems in the world and, because they are problem solvers, they don’t hesitate to look for solutions.

    Advertising

    This genuine desire to help is not rooted in personal gain, glory, recognition, or any other self-serving motive. Self-actualized people have a strong sense of purpose and want to leave the world better than they found it.

    9. They Have a Strong Sense of Purpose

    Because self-actualized people are humanitarians and they seek never-ending personal growth. They often times adopt a mission or purpose that is far beyond themselves or their own needs.

    This mission is typically meant to solve a problem for the good of all mankind and gives them a powerful sense of purpose. This purpose demands much of their energy, and they are more than happy to spend their time making a significant impact on the world.

    10. The Self-Actualized Person Seeks Peak Experiences

    Self-actualized people seek frequent peak experiences. These are not everyday experiences of joy—they are experiences that involve a heightened sense of wonder, awe, or ecstasy—a feeling of transcendence.[1]

    Peak performances tend to be highly significant to one’s life. They are fulfilling, thrilling, intrinsically rewarding, and in many cases, feel very spiritual.

    While rare, peak experiences can happen for anyone at any time, those who are self-actualized deliberately seek out these experiences routinely.

    11. They Embrace the Unknown

    While most people fear the unknown, self-actualized people embrace it. Self-actualized people understand that to grow as a person, you have to step beyond your comfort zone and into the unknown.

    Self-actualized people seek to reach their full potential, which means they have to explore the unknown. They cannot reach their full potential by staying where they are. They cannot cling to the familiar.

    They do not fear the unknown. Instead, the self-actualized welcome and embrace the unknown—they accept it and learn from it. They are not afraid of the many curve balls that life tends to throw their way.

    12. They Are Unconventional and Spontaneous

    Because they are not afraid of the unknown, self-actualized people tend to be very spontaneous and unconventional. While they are able to follow most social and cultural expectations, they have no problem doing their own thing when they decide it’s appropriate.

    Advertising

    They do not feel confined by the norms of society and are willing to explore the unknown world beyond those expectations, even if the new experience is not a social norm.

    13. They Have a Thoughtful Sense of Humor

    Self-actualized people have a deep and thoughtful sense of humor. They are very good at finding the humor in most situations, and they enjoy laughing at themselves.

    On the other hand, they never use humor to embarrass or ridicule other people, and they never make jokes at the expense of others.

    The Path to Self-Actualization

    So there you have it: 13 traits that self-actualized people share. To get on the path to self-actualization, you can study these traits and seek to live a life that mirrors them.

    There’s no step-by-step plan to follow to become self-actualized. However, these 13 traits offer you a guide to becoming more self-actualized over time. Remember, becoming self-actualized is not a destination; it’s a journey.

    You can learn to be more present in your life, to accept yourself and those around you, and to be more spontaneous and unconventional. You can work towards finding your purpose in life, to becoming more humanitarian, and embracing the unknown.

    As you live your life, focus on improving these 13 areas of your life, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming self-actualized.

    Good luck!

    Featured photo credit: Denys Nevozhai via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Very Well Mind: Peak Experiences in Psychology

    More by this author

    Austin Bollinger

    Austin is the founder, blogger, and podcast host at Daily New Years. He's on a mission to help people identify, set, and crush their goals.

    What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours) How to Develop Mental Toughness to Help You Stay Strong The Ultimate List of 29 Goals for Living a Fulfilling Life

    Trending in Mental Strength

    1 7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 11: Mindfulness and the Authentic Self 3 5 Ways to Make the Best Use of Extrinsic Motivation 4 How to Overcome Your Resistance to Change for a Better Self 5 How to Improve Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

    7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

    Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

    It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

    People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

    That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

    Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

    1. Construct a Plan of Action

    The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

    This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

    To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

    Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

    2. Focus Your Attention

    If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

    Advertising

    Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

    One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

    Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

    Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

    The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

      Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

      3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

      Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

      The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

      Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

      Advertising

      This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

      The reason is simple:

      Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

      This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

      If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

      4. Accountability Is a Must

      When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

      When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

      You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

      • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
      • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
      • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
      • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

      Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

      5. Catalyst for Change

      There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

      Advertising

      The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

      By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

      Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

      Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

      Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

      Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

      6. Character Matters

      In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

      Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

      Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

      It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

      Advertising

      7. Muster up the Courage

      Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

      Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

      Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

      I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

      If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

      You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

      Final Thoughts

      There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

      Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

      More About Living Your Dream Life

      Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next