Authors: David Tuffley
Tags: #happy, #happiness, #maslow, #selfrealization, #selfactualization, #human potential, #needs, #know thyself, #peak experience, #being happy, #selfactualisation
spread through the earth
In stray gifts
to be claimed by whoever shall find.
David Tuffley at Smashwords
Edition, License Notes
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respecting the work of this author.
to Nicola Tuffley for
suggesting this eBook.
Table of Contents
lasting happiness can be achieved through a process known as
Self-Actualisation, or Self-Realisation. This is a natural state
and within the reach of all human beings. It comes from having
satisfied all of one’s human needs.
This is the kind
of happiness that cannot be obtained through the acquisition of
things. The fleeting gratification in receiving goods or services
is not true happiness. That is an illusion created by our global
consumer society. I am not suggesting that you should avoid having
nice things, just that they are not a source of true happiness.
Truly happy people
are Self-Actualised (SA) people, so called because they are a much
fuller expression of their unique human potential than non SA
people. The state has been given many labels,
being two of them. In Zen, it is described
While you cannot
order happiness on demand, you can create the right conditions in
yourself for Self-Actualisation to occur. This eBook describes what
these conditions are, and how you might go about creating them. The
rest is up to you.
psychologist Abraham Maslow is well-known for his ideas on a
hierarchy of human needs. Basic needs must be satisfied before
higher order needs are felt. The hierarchy is represented as a
pyramid, with the basic needs at the pyramids broad base, and with
self-actualisation at the apex. A Self-Actualised person has found
a way to satisfy all of his or her lower needs and has cultivated
the conscious awareness of their highest self. They allow this
awareness to express itself more fully in their lives.
The achievement of
Self-Actualisation is recognised by Maslow as a human need, so in a
sense it is everyone’s birthright to be happy.
The need for
Self-Actualisation asserts itself once we have satisfied the
lowest-order needs for food, shelter, sex, then middle-order needs
for safety and security, then the higher middle-order needs for
love and belonging. Above these is the higher-order need for
self-esteem. The highest need of all, sitting like the capstone of
a pyramid is the need for Self-Actualisation.
The annals of
various religions tell us that a person can achieve enlightenment
with only some or none of the higher and middle order needs being
met, and with only the barest of lower-order needs like food and
shelter being satisfied. This is more difficult, requiring you to
become an ascetic recluse and engage in mortification of the flesh
in order to free yourself of these normal human needs. This eBook
is not recommending this course of action. Our body is not an
impediment to happiness. Quite the opposite, it is a great ally. We
owe it to ourselves to take the best care of our body that we can
by eating well, getting enough exercise and rest, and avoiding
toxic and/or addictive substances.
(SA) people, whoever they are and whatever the circumstances of
their lives, tend to approach life in the ways described below:
(SA) people throw themselves into the experiencing of something;
concentrating on it fully, allowing it to totally absorb
The only way this
can be done is to be (a)
, that is fully awake in the
present moment and (b) fully
of the circumstances
of that moment.
This is easier
said than done because most of the time we impose judgment on
situations and in the process of doing so, we alienate ourselves
from it. Soon we are thinking we would like to be somewhere
In terms of
achieving your full potential as a human being, mindfulness is
about using an evolved part of your brain that many people do not
use. It lies dormant, waiting for the command to awaken.
You can awaken
this part of your brain simply by deciding (and following through
on the decision) to observe the on-going activity in your own mind.
Using a computer metaphor, you activate a monitoring program that
watches what is going on.
calls this a
new dimension of thought
. There is the part of
you who thinks your normal thoughts, then there is the part that
observes you thinking those thoughts. Previously there was only the
thinker. Now there is the thinker and the observer.
observer is an important aspect of becoming Self-Actualised.
helps you to stop thinking so much about the past and the future by
removing the dimension of time from your thinking.
In the Now you
observe the world of phenomena in a judgment-free way. You accept
it without mental resistance, understanding that this resistance is
what prevents you from experiencing every moment as the best
Life is a
moment-by-moment choice between
(out of fear and need for defence) and
(for the sake of progress and growth): SA people
consciously make the growth choice many times a day.
If you observe
your own mind in action (as in previous section) you will notice
that this continuum (with safety at one end and risk at the other)
is often active in your thinking.
There is a dynamic
tension between these two opposites, and you will habitually lean
towards one or the other. If you are like many people, you are
probably inclined towards the safe, low-risk option because you
want predictability with no unpleasant surprises.
person may still value comfort and security, but they know that
personal growth is slow while they are in their comfort-zone. They
therefore take themselves out of their comfort zone as often as
they can in order to create the right conditions for
A life well-lived
will always involve both pleasure
SA people try
to go beyond socially-defined modes of thinking and feeling. They
let their inner experience tell them what they truly feel.
When in doubt,
be honest. It may take some courage, but SA people look honestly at
themselves and take responsibility for who they are and what
happens to them. Self-delusion is the enemy of
If you are
monitoring your thinking and behavior, you might notice that much
of what you think and do conforms to what people expect.
To the greatest
extent possible, you should listen to what your own intuition is
telling you about people and situations and behave according to
this. As you become Self-Actualised, the voice of your intuition
becomes stronger because you are listening to it more.
I understand that
we all need to conform, myself included, to certain behavioral
standards to get along in the world. The challenge is finding a way
of harmonising or reconciling what your intuition is telling you
and how the world expects you to behave.
The idea is summed
up in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Polonius gives this advice to his
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must
follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any
SA people are
prepared to be unpopular if necessary.
The SA person does
not look for trouble, but when there is a conflict between what
they inwardly know is the right thing, and what everyone else seems
to think is the right thing, a SA person has the courage to
disagree with the group and risk their disapproval.
When we receive
disapproval, it is profoundly uncomfortable. Most of us will do
anything to avoid it. That means compliantly going along in order
to get along. Disapproval is an instrument of control that society
uses to create conformist behavior. Blind conformity is anathema to
the SA person.
is an instrument of control that society uses to create conformist
behavior. The so-called “carrot and the stick” approach to
motivating people are two sides of the same coin.
The SA person
recognises when the people around them use approval and/or
disapproval to try to influence their behavior. Their challenge is
finding a way to maintain their integrity without creating
SA people work
to do well the things they want to do, no matter how insignificant
those things seem.
SA people know
that happiness comes from focussing on the task in front of them
now, and doing that task really well.
tremendous satisfaction in doing everything as well as you can,
even the small, seemingly unimportant things. Doing this keeps your
mind firmly in the present moment, the only time and place where
you can truly be alive.
The task is not so
important as the creation in yourself of an attitude of excellence,
which is another way of saying living to your full potential.
You no longer
think that near enough is good enough, that economy of effort and
taking it easy is the best way to live. These are self-limiting
attitudes that will keep you in the realm of mediocrity.
When you live this
every moment becomes the best moment of your life.
Get rid of
illusions and false notions. SA people learn what they are good at
and conversely what they are not good at.
Being honest with
yourself, like mindfulness, is a foundation for Self-Actualisation.
SA people are honest, even brutally honest with themselves at every
level of their lives. What they aim for is congruency between their
inner and outer worlds.
eventually create harmony inside and outside of yourself. Nature
cannot lie to itself, but humans can lie to themselves and create a
false inner world. By ridding yourself of delusion, you come into
greater harmony and alignment with the outside world.
creates the right conditions to have deep insight into the nature
of the world you live in. This insight leads you to
SA people ask
themselves; Who am I? What am I? What is good and what is bad for
me? Where am I going? What is my mission/purpose in life?
yourself these questions and listening to the answers reveals
something important in your quest to be happy; the defences and
excuses that are keeping you from achieving your full
Once you know what
is holding you back, the next challenge is to find the courage to
give them up.
So what were those
characteristics of SA people again?
things fully, vividly, selflessly; On-going choice between safety
and risk; Let your true self emerge; Listen to your own tastes; Use
your intelligence; Make peak experiencing more likely; Know