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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

What Is Self Actualization? 13 Traits of a Self-Actualized Person

What Is Self Actualization? 13 Traits of a Self-Actualized Person

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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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.

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    Last Updated on July 22, 2019

    10 Uplifting Positive Affirmation Apps That Help You Re-Center on the Go

    10 Uplifting Positive Affirmation Apps That Help You Re-Center on the Go

    It’s easy to get overwhelmed with negativity in your daily life. You might read about troubling news stories, face challenges in your career that expose your weaknesses or deal with stress that makes your personal life unbearable. But just as you can cast out darkness with a light switch or a flashlight, you can cast out negativity through the power of positive affirmations.

    Positive affirmations are phrases you say or think to yourself that reaffirm the positive things in your life.

    For example, if you feel like your voice was skipped over in the meeting, you might tell yourself, “I’m an intelligent, capable professional and my voice deserves to be heard.” Or if you feel bad after cheating on your diet, you might tell yourself, “I’ve made a lot of progress toward building a healthier lifestyle and it’s okay to indulge occasionally.”

    Positive affirmations work because they eliminate your thread of negative self-talk, and give you something inspiring, motivating or confidence-building to focus on.[1] If you expose yourself to these positive distractions consistently enough, you’ll walk away with higher self-confidence and a more positive attitude that can help you accomplish almost any goal.

    But for most of us, calling up positive phrases and images on a consistent basis isn’t easy; not only do we have to wrestle with the negative thoughts and experiences that surround us, we also have to make time to re-center our thoughts.

    That’s why these 10 uplifting apps exist. Each of them has the power to make you feel good about yourself no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

    Give these apps a try if you want to include more positive affirmations in your daily life:

    1. ThinkUp

      First, there’s ThinkUp, recognized as the best motivation app of 2017 by Healthline. Once you download the app, you’ll be able to start recording your own positive affirmations in your own voice.

      If you’re feeling confident and good about your place in life, you can come up with some positive statements about yourself and record them for posterity. If you’re feeling less creative or don’t know what to say, don’t worry—the app also has a list of generic positive statements that you can peruse and choose from.

      Once you have a selection of recorded phrases, you can start listening to them however you’d like; for example, you can have them randomly mixed into the music you’re listening to, or set a schedule so you hear your affirmations at regular intervals.

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      Make it a point to record a handful of new affirmations every day, so you’re always hearing something new. The app is available for iOS and Android devices. It’s completely free.

      2. Kwippy

        Positivity can come in many forms. In many cases, affirmations that come from other people can be more powerful than ones you utter to yourself. That’s where Kwippy comes in.

        Kwippy is a new kind of social media platform that will send you random challenges throughout the day, prompting you to take a photo of something in your nearby environment. For example, a challenge could be “take a selfie with the nearest living thing.”

        Users can view photo submissions from every other user (as all Kwippy users receive the same challenges at the same exact time), and are given a chance to vote on the photos they think best capture the theme (or the ones that are the most entertaining). You can also comment on other images.

        If you’re having a bad day, the prompts can be your chance to re-center yourself and be mindful of the present moment, and the affirmations from other people when they see your contribution can be exactly the motivation you need to keep going.

        The app has a positive, lively community focused on fun, while keeping negativity out. Kwippy is entirely free to use and you can find it on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

        3. Shine

          Shine is a text messaging service based on the idea that sometimes, you need some external phrases to guide your internal positive thinking.

          Visit the website, and you’ll have the ability to sign up to receive a daily text message—all you need to provide is a first name and a phone number. Then, Monday through Friday, you’ll receive one message per day with inspirational quotes from successful people, links to research-backed articles you can use as motivation, and tips on actions you can take to feel more positive in your daily life.

          According to their site, 93 percent of people who use Shine texts feel more confident and have seen a significant improvement in their daily happiness.

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          On top of that, you can get a referral code you can use to invite friends to the platform. If you refer 10 friends, you can get free Shine swag. There’s also an app available for iOS devices where you can listen to “Mindful Moments”—meditations for your world.

          4. Smiling Mind

            Smiling Mind is a nonprofit organization that’s attempting to make the positive experience of mindfulness meditation available for everybody.

            Because the organization was founded by and is currently operated by psychologists and educators, everything they do is backed by scientific evidence, so you can make sure your new habits and affirmations are guiding you in the right direction.

            In the app, you’ll find a selection of different guided meditation options, which can help you eliminate your negative thoughts and focus on the positivity of the present moments. There are different programs for different age groups including children as young as 7 years old to adults, and programs for specific applications, such as meditation for sports, education, and the workplace.

            You can also track your progress since the app records how long your sessions are and when you’ve participated in those sessions. The app is free to use but you can make a donation if you want to continue supporting their efforts. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.

            5. Louise Hay Affirmation Meditations.

              Louise Hay has been a leading mind in the world of positive philosophy, and published multiple bestselling books throughout the 70s and 80s before launching an app in the modern era. Hay passed away in 2017, but her hundreds of positive affirmations continue to live.

              Hay’s philosophy that positive affirmations have the potential to physically heal the body may or may not be something you agree with, but there’s no doubt that these short phrases can help you turn around an especially stressful day, or break a cycle of negative thoughts from interfering with your mental health.

              With the app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play, you can listen to some of Hay’s most powerful affirmations whenever you need a boost. You’ll also find meditation exercises, guided with animations, to help you relieve stress and reset your mind when it gets to a negative place.

              6. bmindful

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                bmindful doesn’t have the beautiful interface that many of the apps on this list do, and it exists only as a web app. But while it lacks in design or mobile functionality, it makes up for with an enormous and ever-growing list of affirmations you can use to introduce more positivity into your life.

                When you sign up for free, you’ll have the ability to build a list of your own personal affirmations, curated from massive topic-based lists written by the community. Categories include things like health, love, life, wealth, money, relationships, abundance, confidence, success, work, strength and creativity.

                You can organize them how you see fit, and write your own affirmations—either for your private use or to share with other community members. Soon, you’ll have a list of hundreds of affirmations that make sense to you, and specifically, you can turn to that list whenever you need a break from your negative thoughts.

                7. Instar Affirmation Writer

                  Instar Affirmation Writer is an app for people who want to take charge of writing and managing their own affirmations, rather than relying on those written by other people.

                  Within the app, you’ll have the ability to schedule alerts and reminders for yourself, so you write new positive affirmations on a regular basis and the app will notify you when it detects key criteria being met in your response, including a focus on the present moment and an overall “positive” emotion.

                  You can record your own voice reading these affirmations, and improve the affirmations you write with ongoing tips. On top of that, you can categorize all your affirmations and pay attention to how often you affirm by monitoring your writing patterns. The app is available on the App Store.

                  8. Grateful

                    Gratitude journals are a popular way to practice positive affirmations since they force you to slow down and focus on the positive things that are already in your life. Then, once recorded, you can go back and look at positive experiences in the past for inspiration.

                    Now, you can use an app to make the process of gratitude journaling easier and more enjoyable—not to mention more consistent. Grateful is an app that gives you daily prompts; every day, you’ll be met with a question like “what made you smile today” or “why was today a good day?” Answering with even a single word can be a positive affirmation in its own right but the app allows you to write as much as you want or even include a photo.

                    Grateful makes it easy for you to browse through your past responses to prompts so you always have something positive to see. Right now, the app is only available on the App Store. It’s free to start using but you’ll need to pay for advanced features in-app.

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                    9. Calm

                      Calm is technically more of a meditation app than a positive affirmation app but it’s designed for the same purpose; to help stop your bouts of negative self-talk and replace them with a positive experience.

                      The main function here is a wide selection of different types of guided meditation sessions, which focus on different goals. For example, there’s a guided meditation for relieving anxiety and one to support loving kindness. There are also deep breathing exercises that are perfect for encouraging relaxation.

                      When using the app directly, you can set a specific time for the meditation to last and you can use a “motivation calendar” to give yourself prompts to be more mindful, or start a meditation session at regular intervals.

                      Calm also has paid features, which include multi-day programs that help you manage stress and improve your sleep. It was named the Apple App of the Year in 2017, and is available on the App Store and Google Play.

                      10. Happify

                        No matter what your goals are for establishing more positivity and better emotional wellbeing in your life, Happify has something that can help you. In their own words, “Happify is the single destination for effective, evidence-based solutions for better emotional health and wellbeing in the 21st century.” The main perk here is that the app helps you measure your subjective feelings of happiness over the course of weeks and months, so you can see the patterns in your emotions and (hopefully) notice a pattern of improvement.

                        While using the app, you’ll find tools designed to break up negative thoughts, reduce your stress, and build confidence, including positive affirmations and activities meant to help you relax. You’ll even find guided meditation sessions, helping you make the most of the present moment, wherever you are.

                        Happify is available on the App Store and Google Play, or you can use the web version.

                        It’s free to use the basic features, but the advanced options and statistics will cost you $11.99 a month.

                        Practice Affirmation Consistently

                        Using at least one of these apps on a daily basis can help you fight the negativity in your life, feel more confident, and develop the resilience you need to overcome life’s toughest challenges.

                        The more consistently you practice affirmation, the easier it’s going to become. Soon, you won’t have to rely on apps alone to break the cycle of negative self-talk; you’ll simply be a more positive person!

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                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Psych Central: Challenging Negative Self-Talk

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