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Without Self Actualization, Life Is Like Empty

Without Self Actualization, Life Is Like Empty

We sometimes get to a point in our lives where we question the meaning of our goals, dreams, potential and general life direction.

The meaning of our lives is the basis of leading a fulfilling experience – from our connection with others, our inner being and our place in the world around us, to our simple physiological needs.

Self-actualization is about moving up to the next level and being the best we can be in order to give meaning to our life – something everyone strives to do whether consciously or not.

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What Exactly is Self-Actualization?

The concept of self-actualization was coined by the psychologist Abraham Maslow [1] who studied the theory of human needs. He believed that happiness derives, not from animalistic or mechanical behaviours nor the unconscious impulses we possess, but rather the drive to develop our understanding and wisdom of our full potential and capabilities.

Why We Need to Put Emphasis on Self-Actualization

Maslow believed that everyone is fundamentally hard-wired to self-actualize. Most people are at different stages – some can self-actualize at an early age or others reach the stage later in life but for most of us, we are have a need to better ourselves on a subconscious level throughout our lives.

In other words, it’s our want to grow whether we do this intentionally or unintentionally. We may do this through reading more widely to gain a better understanding of a subject, or simply choosing to see certain things from a different, more positive perspective.

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It’s this self-actualization that we need in life to feel fulfilled and feel like we’re growing and developing as a person.

The Characteristics of Self-Actualization

If you’re still not sure how this translates into your own life, there are some characteristics of self-actualization that you can probably identify with. These are:

  • Perceiving reality in a skilled way: being able to see what’s happening to you and what’s going on around you with a balanced and accepting approach.
  • The ability to accept yourself and others: understanding ourselves in a non-judgemental way as well as those around us.
  • Being appreciative of life: appreciating what life is in all its faults and glory – in your own life, others’ lives and even the nature that surrounds you.
  • The ability to create deep and meaningful connections: creating relationships that bring meaning and depth; helping us grow and bring further understanding to the essence of connection with others.
  • Following guidance from our values and inner goals: that feeling of living your life according to what you feel is right for you; knowing you are on a path that reflects your ultimate goal of happiness and fulfilment.
  • The ability to express your emotions in a clear and freeing way: feeling confident and positively aligned with the way you express yourself that benefits you and those around you.

Of course, we aren’t always portraying these characteristics at all times but when we do we feel like we’re in a state of being our best selves. This is why going through states of self-actualization helps us live a meaningful life and leads us to a happier life.

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In What Ways Can I Encourage Self Actualization?

Self-actualization may seem hard to do especially when we’re going through hard times or when we’ve picked up negative habits about how we think about ourselves and what’s going on around us.

But there are things you can do that will encourage you to grow and create the mindset of being your best self.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We all have a tendency to do this but it’s a habit that doesn’t serve us. Understand that we are all on our own unique journey and it doesn’t matter where other people are in comparison to us. Once you make this important realisation you can be free to enjoy your path in life as the adventure it really is. It’s about your own progress not anyone else’s. Self-actualization is understanding that you are looking from a standpoint independent of other people.

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Understanding the Power of Your Mindset

You may feel like your bad mood is the cause of other people or external circumstances that you can’t control, but it’s actually how you choose to react to conditions. You have the ability to adjust accordingly because your mindset is incredibly powerful. Choosing to see things for your benefit no matter how negative it may seem will help you self-actualize much more easily.

Learning to Love Yourself

You may have heard this a million times before, but accepting yourself completely is the only way you can be the best version of yourself. This means accepting both your strengths and weaknesses. It’s from this place that you can truly move through the world in an authentic way – it’s about creating peace of mind about yourself and getting rid of this negative version you’ve made up.

Know That the Journey is Never Over

Self-actualizing is knowing that you never really stop growing – you will never reach perfection and that’s okay because that isn’t what life’s about. Life is about continually expanding ourselves, our knowledge and our perspectives. Once you accept this, it will become easier to relax and achieve the happiness you deserve.

So, the journey to self-actualizing is actually the journey to empowerment. It’s about denouncing the negative perspectives we’ve adopted about ourselves and being willing to see things differently. It’s only from this space that we can live a life that has true meaning, fulfilment and being aware of our full potential and capabilities.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash.com via pexels.com

Reference

[1] The Pursuit of Happiness: Abraham Maslow

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Jenny Marchal

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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