What does it mean to be “Self Actualized?”
Some say this is being at the top of our potential.
Of performing as effectively as we can.
According to Maslow’s famous hierarchy, we need to satisfy “lower” need before we can satisfy “higher” needs.
Once we get these lower needs out of the way, (food, safety, sex,) we can move up the ladder.
But is it possible to “be” self actualized?
After all, you can’t just stop eating. What happens when you’re at the top of the “self actualized” pyramid and you get hungry?
Or what happens if everything’s perfect, your living your “higher purpose” but then an earthquake hits, and your house starts falling apart?
There’s a saying in enlightenment circles, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Meaning that no matter HOW “enlightened” you become, you still gotta eat. You still have to put on your seatbelt. You still have to pay your electric bill or else all your ice cream will melt.
Consider that “self actualization” is not a destination, like Las Vegas.
Where you can see it up ahead, and you whoop and holler when you cross the border.
Consider that “self actualization” is a delicate balance.
When you, an unfathomably complex mind-body system, is operating at a high level of efficiency.
Csikszentmihalyi (seriously!) studied athletes. When they are “self actualized” he called it a “flow state.” Those RARE moments when they act purely unconsciously, when they “be the ball.”
When conscious thought stops and they perform with utmost efficiency, grace and skill.
But here’s the thing.
Even the BEST athletes only experience true “flow” sporadically.
After all, if they could reproduce it at will, they would never lose.
What does that mean for us normal humans?
Can we EVER become self actualized?
Yes, yes we can.
Consider a couple of simple concepts.
One is we can NEVER predict the future.
Which means every time we take action, something UNEXPECTED will happen.
And every time something unexpected happens, we learn something.
This means that every single time we do something, we IMPROVE our ability to look out our future and decide what to do.
Since we are ALWAYS updating our “map of reality” we can NEVER arrive at point where we understand everything.
Which means being “self actualized” is an orientation, a way operating, rather than a static state.
Kind of like a high performance race car. The engine is only “self actualized” on straight roads when it can hit those high RPMs.
Consider that the MOST “actualized” we can be is when success is just out of reach, and we are operating as efficiently as we can to get there.
And lucky for us, the more we succeed, the more we CAN succeed.