Is it not the dawn of awareness that we experience when what we wish to become creates the enlightenment we had been unconsciously searching for since our existence?
As a Personal Development Trainer, I’ve often been asked the question, “ I am not happy doing what I do….what do I do about it?”
I’ve come to realize from this question that many of us are in this journey of life unaware of the purpose of our existence and value to the world that we live in. We are instructed from the time we are old enough on how to live, what to do, what not to do and so on. But how many of us are asked “What do we enjoy? What are we passionate about? Sadly, not many.
As a child who was fortunate to grow up in not just a loving family environment, but in an environment that encouraged creativity,I realized that one of the primary areas of focus of my pleasure of existence was my sheer enjoyment of life through experimentation, creativity and the freedom to do and be what I want to be.
A tad Bohemian approach to enjoying childhood, but today I only have gratitude for the liberty and psychological indulgence I had relished as a child.
There are many who ask, what made me become a Personal Development Trainer.
It is for the simple joy of playing a role in helping an individual believe in themselves and their dream.
Ok, true that it had taken me close to 35 years of existence on this planet to realize what my calling is or what my passion is, but I humbly admit that the wait was worth it! Today, I enjoy my profession with passion and I have no doubts on whether this profession is my proverbial cup of tea. It is not just my tea, but a part of my life that gives me a meaning and thrill to life.
How many of students are encouraged to be what they want to be? How many parents motivate their children not to focus on marks but encourage them to perform their best?
While discussing about personal development, one cannot ignore psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Self Actualization Theory.
Maslow’s Theory of Self Actualization is one of the most famous theories that created an impact not for the intellectualization of our needs but because it had opened a pathway for us to believe that once our basic needs for survival are met our attention goes to improving the environment around us.
Our survival needs need to quenched before we move up the pyramid of Maslow’s Self Actualization, Physiological Needs at the bottom, followed by Safety Needs, Social Needs, Self Esteem and finally Self Actualization (at the top).
Maslow observed that a Self Actualizer has a unique set of characteristics that makes the individual different from others.
Genuine, enjoys solitude, develops close relations with few – dear and near, rarely conforms to society expectations, solution driven rather than problem centred, healthy sense of humour, respects and accepts individual differences, humble, creative and a remarkable ability to appreciate the goodness around them are some of their unique qualities.
Some of the well known examples of personalities who belong to the level of Self Actualization are – Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.
Taking the case of Abraham Lincoln, from his youth, he was known for his exemplary honest and fair character. He had once wrestled a bully in his town and went on to earn the name, “Honest Abe”.
As the first American President who was assassinated, his name is today synonymous for his dignified leadership in the efforts of preservation of the Union during the bloody Civil War and his long and arduous years of efforts to end slavery.
He rose from impoverished but genteel origins, and epitomized commitment and determination to a noble cause and his writings are a reflection of altruism in the noblest sense.
As an individual who worked his way to the position of a nation’s President, Lincoln is an inspiration to all who would like to be what they want to be.
He is an example of the heights that Self Actualization can take one and the consecutive benefits the environment gains from the such an individual’s active presence.
If we are to nurture children, college students and adults (including ourself) keeping in mind the benefits of being a Self Actualizer, some of the areas we need to focus and work are –
1) Make the best of life and with existing resources
2) Value Life
3) Respect themselves and others
4) Be creative
5) Enjoy and Promote Peace
6) Awareness of a purpose in Life
7) Live each Moment
8) Inculcate courage to take action even during risky situations
9) Importance of being a World Citizen
10) Compete with oneself and not with others
11) Enjoy life with the absorption and delight of a child
12) Encourage evaluations on authority, conventions and traditions
14) Promote Honesty
15) Create strong Work Ethics and sense of responsibility
16) Motivate Self Evaluation in identification of improvement
17) Promote learning from new enriching experiences, eg: helping teach children for a few hours in an orphanage during holidays, learn a new language or culture and so on
18) Develop a thirst for knowledge and enlightenment
It is not just children who can be nurtured towards attainment of Self Actualization, but college students and adults of all ages. The step towards this goal is belief that you can attain it once each of the level of needs are met and the inherent desire to improve.
While conventional education can promote personal growth, it has the drawback of inhibiting an individual’s potential, similarly the conditioning that an individual experiences in the name of culture and tradition also acts a barrier to the awakening of the world citizen in them.
Remember you are responsible for achieving what you are meant to be and do not wait for encouragement to make your journey towards Self Actualization.
Every individual is a unique person with their unique talents and abilities – discover them, face life with passion, zeal and courage and lastly make your existence a meaningful and fulfilling one.
In the words of Abraham Maslow,
“What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization”