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Most People Have Great Potential. But Very Few of Them Unleash It

Most People Have Great Potential. But Very Few of Them Unleash It

Has any authority figure ever come up to you and told you that you have the potential for so much more, but are not reaching for it? Or have you yourself ever felt that despite achieving all that you have, there’s a lot in you that needs to be explored and reached for, but you are pulling yourself back somehow? The first step to self-actualization is often realizing this. Once you have done so, the actual journey can begin.

Why Do We Need Self Actualization?

Self-actualization is a theory created by Abraham Maslow that “represents growth of an individual toward fulfillment of the highest needs; those for meaning in life, in particular.” [1].

Basically, think of who or what you are today and what you could be, ideally, down the road that leads you to search for the truth in yourself, for the true potential in yourself and for the all the good and altruistic tendencies in you. A person who has achieved self-actualization knows all of life’s meaning and purpose – be it basic needs or a higher calling.

According to Maslow, self-actualization is a step-by-step process: first you satisfy your basic needs (things like money, shelter, food), then comes the need to satisfy the social desires (love, friends, family) and then comes the most difficult step: to be as self-confident a person, as mentally and internally strong, as you can be, no matter the challenges or circumstances. So the need for self-actualization is simple – to be the best that we can be.

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    Essential Skills Needed To Reach Self-Actualization

    Perhaps the first step to self-actualization is the fact that you are not yet your ideal self, but that’s okay. You first need to learn to accept who you truly are, however lacking you may be in certain aspects. [2]. The second thing to realize is the path to self-actualization is perhaps a winding, interesting but never-ending road – there’s always more to learn, even if it’s about your own, true self.

    So here go the essential skills you need, and the steps you need to take to reach self-actualization, as guided by Maslow [3]:

    Skill 1: Accept Yourself Holistically, And Just Be You

    You are unique, be it in your achievements, talents or even fallacies. There isn’t anyone like you – and the mistakes you made, they are nothing but milestones in your way to success.

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    Be who you truly are and want to be. Cloaking your true nature in a bid to please others will work only so much, and for so long. Ultimately, the ones around you need to see and accept the real you but before that you have to see and accept the real you, yourself. [4] Don’t be or say or do what others want you to, think about what is right and wrong – and always follow the path that seems right to you. The key thing to do here is to remember that it has to be selfless, ego free and on the path of righteousness.

    Remember not to compare yourself to anyone – no matter how much better, more successful or simply “more” someone else is. You are you, and you are your best canvas. Remember that you write your own destiny, and that you are the one in control of who you want to be. Tell yourself that, in front of the mirror if you need to.

    Skill 2: Be Honest, Brutally, With Yourself And Gently With Others

    The decisions you make in life need to come from an honest and truthful place – be true to yourself always. Not to say that being dishonest with others is a good thing, but if you start lying to yourself, there’s no end to the vicious cycle you’ll end up trapping yourself in. What you do, why you did it and what you will do next all needs to come from a place of stark honesty and nothing else. [5]

    Maintain a diary of your actions and their explanations. Many of us often tell little white lies about our lives to others. The reason mostly being that we are dissatisfied with ourselves, or ashamed of something we feel we lack, and so we often cover-up and hedge and pretend to be something we are not. Problem is that when we lie to others, we end up believing it ourselves and then the line between truth and honesty tends to get blurred. The path to self-actualization is paved with bricks of truth, always.

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    Skill 3: Think Of Challenges As Obstacles, Not Insurmountable Walls

    Sooner or later you will face resistance in your solitary walk to self-actualization. People may not like that you have changed, they may not like that you are choosing to pull away from them or the life you were leading earlier – and they will try to pull you back. Still others will brand you as stubborn, or principled, or too idealistic or just plain wacko.

    You have to let these things slide off of you. You have to rise above it all and not be bothered by it. Do not change your way in case challenges are thrown your way, do not shift to the path of least resistance to “smooth” things over. No one said that this road was going to be easy, but the results and the journey in itself will make you the happiest you can ever be. [6]

    Skill 4: Live In the Moment, And Be Grateful For All That You Are

    People on the path of self-actualization have truly understood that their time on this planet is finite, as is everybody’s. And this finiteness is also very dubious: you never know what the next moment will bring, or when you’d suddenly meet your Maker. Living in each and every moment is one way to ensure that when it is your time to go, you go with nary regret. [7]

    Remember to be grateful for all the little things in life – the sun on your face, the fragrance of rain-wet earth, the loved ones in your life, all the good things that happened to you and all the bad things too (for they made you learn and rise up to the occasion) and of course, for just being you.

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    Skill 5: Never Stop Questioning or Learning, Ever

    The meaning of life, for people who have reached self-actualization or are well on their way to it, is a never ending quest. This quest is not materialistic or even ambitious in its nature, rather, it is simply a thirst for knowledge, for self-development and for being better than who you were a day, hour or even minute ago. [8]

    People who want to reach self-actualization have already accepted the best and the worst about themselves. Now they are on road to better themselves, to help someone along the way if they can, and to make a positive change in the world if they so can. They know, understand and accept that there is no such thing as perfection and that life, despite all the challenges and hardships, is a beautiful gift meant to be enjoyed to the fullest in the literal sense of knowledge too.

    The Pitfalls That You Need To Avoid On The Path To Self-Actualization

    People on the path to self-actualization have learnt to take failure in their stride, accept and even delight in their imperfections and have a control over their emotions. [9] Here’s what not to do:

    • Stop mulling on your failures or “deficiencies”: No one is perfect, accept that and accept yourself.
    • Stop “not knowing”: Ignorance is as big a sin – learn about yourself, the world and keep the quest on.
    • Nip that self-pity: So you didn’t achieve a goal or two or ten – shake it off and start striving again. Feeling sorry for yourself will not get you anywhere.
    • Kill your ego: Your ego and your high opinion of yourself will get you nowhere if you want to be on the path to self-actualization. Kill your ego and be as selfless as possible.
    • Do not be too materialistic: No, we are not asking you to give up your worldly possessions or pursuits. But don’t make them your sole goal, there has to be a higher calling than that sometimes.

    All in all, if you stay true to yourself and your beliefs, try to be as good and morally upright a person that you can be and keep on the quest to be a better person – you are on a good road to self-actualization, and will soon reach your goals. Remember that is not the end, just a great new beginning!

    Reference

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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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