About Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was an American psychologist who pioneered humanistic psychology and developed ideas related to a hierarchy of needs.  Maslow stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms.”    Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica    |   Biography.com


Abraham Maslow (quotes)



The highest level need of all humans is to self-actualise; to be all they can be

  • It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amount to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be.
  • All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every new-born baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization.
  • Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self-actualization and the love for the highest values.
  • Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self- actualization. It refers to man’s desire for self-fulfilment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything one is capable of becoming.
  • What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.
  • We are dealing with a fundamental characteristic, inherent in human nature, a potentiality given to all or most human beings at birth, which most often is lost or buried or inhibited as the person gets enculturated.
  • The human being is so constructed that he pressed toward fuller and fuller being.

Self actualisers make full use of their talents and capacities

  • A person who makes full use of and exploits his talents, potentialities, and capacities. Such a person seems to be fulfilling himself and doing the best he is capable of doing. The self-actualized person must find in his life those qualities that make his living rich and rewarding. He must find meaningfulness, self-sufficiency, effortlessness, playfulness, richness, simplicity, completion, necessity, perfection, individuality, beauty, and truth.
  • I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capabilities.

Self actualisers help and connect with others

  • Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.
  • Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.
  • Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.

Self actualisers are deeply appreciative of life

  • Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.

Self actualisers have self-awareness

  • Average individuals often have not the slightest idea of what they are, of what they want, of what their own opinions are whereas self-actualizing individuals have superior awareness of their own impulses, desires, opinions, and subjective reactions in general.

Self actualisers are present to the real

  • Self-actualized people live more in the real world of nature than in the man-made mass of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes that most people confuse with the world.

Self actualisers still experience human challenges

  • Self-actualizing does not mean a transcendence of all human problems. Conflict, anxiety, frustration, sadness, hurt, and guilt can all be found in healthy human beings.

Be all you can be


Transcend the fear of living up to your potential

  • We fear our highest possibilities. We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under conditions of great courage. We enjoy and even thrill to godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities.
  • We fear to know the fearsome and unsavoury aspects of ourselves, but we fear even more to know the godlike in ourselves.
  • Fear of knowing is very deeply a fear of doing.
  • Being a full human being is difficult, frightening, and problematical.
  • We crave and fear becoming truly ourselves.

Embrace your potential and become all you can be …

  • We fear our highest possibilities.  We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under conditions of great courage.
  • One’s only rival is one’s own potentialities. One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities. In this sense, every man can be a king, and must therefore be treated like a king.
  • Every person is, in part, ‘his own project’ and makes himself.
  • What one can be, one must be!
  • The job is, if we are willing to take it seriously, to help ourselves to be more perfectly what we are, to be more full, more actualizing, more realizing in fact, what we are in potentiality.
  • When we free ourselves from the constraints of ordinary goals and uninformed scoffers we will find ourselves roaring off the face of the earth.

… for that is the only way to be happy and successful

  • If the essential core of the person is denied or suppressed, he gets sick sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes immediately, sometimes later.
  • If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.
  • In order for us to become truly happy, that which we can become, we must become.
  • What a man can be, he must be.
  • One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities.

Step forward into growth

  • In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.
  • One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.
  • We can consider the process of healthy growth to be a never-ending series of free choice situations, confronting each individual at every point throughout his life, in which he must choose between the delights of safety and growth, dependence and independence, regression and progression, immaturity and maturity.
  • They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honours, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self- development and inner growth.
  • Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defence) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.

Use and develop your talents and capacities

  • People with intelligence must use their intelligence, people with eyes must use their eyes, people with the capacity to love have the impulse to love and the need to love in order to feel healthy. Capacities clamor to be used, and cease in their clamor only when they are used sufficiently. That is to say, capacities are needs, and therefore are intrinsic values as well.
  • We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, callings.

Embrace lifelong learning and education

  • Education can become a self-fulfilling activity, liberating in and of itself.
  • All of life is education and everybody is a teacher and everybody is forever a pupil.
  • Education is learning to grow, learning what to grow toward, learning what is good and bad, learning what is desirable and undesirable, learning what to choose and what not to choose.
  • One of the goals of education should be to teach that life is precious.
  • In the ideal college, intrinsic education would be available to anyone who wanted it…The college would be life-long, for learning can take place all through life.

More principles for living


Embrace your inherent creativity

  • Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.
  • Creativity is a characteristic given to all human beings at birth.
  • We cannot study creativeness in an ultimate sense until we realize that practically all the definitions that we have been using of creativeness are essentially male or masculine definitions of male or masculine products. We’ve left out of consideration almost entirely the creativeness of women.
  • A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.
  • The key question isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might not be why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle that anybody created anything.
  • Apparently one impression we are making… is that creativeness consists of lightning striking you on the head in one great glorious moment.
  • We have got to abandon the sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.
  • My feeling is that the concept of creativeness and the concept of the healthy, self-actualizing, fully human person seem to be coming closer and closer together, and may perhaps turn out to be the same thing.
  • Common sense means living in the world as it is today; but creative people are people who don’t want the world as it is today but want to make another world.
  • Only the flexibly creative person can really manage the future, Only the one who can face novelty with confidence and without fear.

Foster appreciation and gratitude

  • Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.
  • Appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.
  • Getting used to our blessings is one of the most important nonevil generators of human evil, tragedy and suffering.
  • It is vital that people “count their blessings:” to appreciate what they possess without having to undergo its actual loss.

See the sacred in the ordinary

  • The great lesson from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, and now also from the Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists – that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbours, friends, and family, in one’s back yard … To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is sacred.
  • Laugh at what you hold sacred, and still hold it sacred.

Embrace the present moment

  • I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.
  • The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.
  • Man has his future within him, dynamically alive at this present moment.
  • Creative people are all there, totally immersed, fascinated and absorbed in the present, in the current situation, in the here-now, with the matter-in-hand.

Accept that we all have flaws

  • There are no perfect human beings! Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, in fact, great. There do in fact exist creators, seers, sages, saints, shakers, and movers… even if they are uncommon and do not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it.

Do what you love doing

  • A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
  • The most beautiful fate, the most wonderful good fortune that can happen to any human being, is to be paid for doing that which he passionately loves to do.
  • The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important.

Stop worrying what others think of you

  • Be independent of the good opinion of other people.

Do not fear making mistakes

  • It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually.
  • I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks.  All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.

Recognise the power of love

  • It would not occur to anyone to question the statement that we “need” iodine or vitamin C. I remind you that the evidence that we “need” love is of exactly the same type.
  • We must understand love; we must be able to teach it, to create it, to predict it, or else the world is lost to hostility and to suspicion.
  • I may say that love, in a profound but testable sense, creates the partner. it gives him a self-image, it gives him self-acceptance, a feeling of love-worthiness, all of which permit him to grow. It is a real question whether the full development of the human being is possible without it.

Know what your values are and live by them

  • I think it is possible that we may soon even define therapy as a search for values, because ultimately the search for identity is, in essence, the search for one’s own intrinsic, authentic values.
  • We may define therapy as a search for value.
  • The human being needs a framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion-surrogate to live by and understand by, in about the same sense that he needs sunlight, calcium or love.

Important questions to ask

  • What is the good life? What is the good man? The good woman? What is the good society and what is my relation to it? What are my obligations to society? What is best for my children? What is justice? Truth? Virtue? What is my relation to nature, to death, to aging, to pain, to illness? How can I live a zestful, enjoyable, meaningful life? What is my responsibility to my brothers? Who are my brothers? What shall I be loyal to? What must I be ready to die for?

Become deeply conscious and aware

  • What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
  • Become aware of internal, subjective, subverbal experiences, so that these experiences can be brought into the world of abstraction, of conversation, of naming, etc. with the consequence that it immediately becomes possible for a certain amount of control to be exerted over these hitherto unconscious and uncontrollable processes.
  • We must remember that knowledge of one’s own deep nature is also simultaneously knowledge of human nature in general.
  • Whereas the average individuals “often have not the slightest idea of what they are, of what they want, of what their own opinions are,” self-actualizing individuals have “superior awareness of their own impulses, desires, opinions, and subjective reactions in general.

Accept and respect yourself and earn respect from others

  • No psychological health is possible unless this essential care of the person is fundamentally accepted, loved and respected by others and by himself.
  • A positive self-image and healthy self-esteem is based on approval, acceptance and recognition from others; but also upon actual accomplishments, achievements and success upon the realistic self-confidence which ensues.
  • The most stable, and therefore, the most healthy self-esteem is based on deserved respect from others rather than on external fame or celebrity and unwarranted adulation.

Know what you want

  • It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.

Live in beauty

  • It is as necessary for man to live in beauty rather than ugliness as it is necessary for him to have food for an aching belly or rest for a weary body.

Embrace peak experiences

  • The person in peak-experiences feels himself, more than other times, to be the responsible, active, creating centre of his activities and of his perceptions. He feels more like a prime-mover, more self-determined (rather than caused, determined, helpless, dependent, passive, weak, bossed). He feels himself to be his own boss, fully responsible, fully volitional, with more “free-will” than at other times, master of his fate, an agent.
  • The emotional reaction in the peak experience has a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender before the experience as before something great.
  • Expression and communication in the peak–experiences tend often to become poetic, mythical, and rhapsodic, as if this were the natural kind of language to express such states of being.
  • The peaker learns surely and certainly that life can be worthwhile, that it can be beautiful and valuable. There are ends in life, i.e., experiences which are so precious in themselves as to prove that not everything is a means to some end other than itself.

Be a healing force; not a harmful one

  • Let people realise clearly that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or unnecessarily hurt or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every person who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotherapeutic force, even though a small one.

Be optimistic about human nature

  • The fact is that people are good.  Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.
  • Human nature is not nearly as bad as it has been thought to be.
  • When people appear to be something other than good and decent, it is only because they are reacting to stress, pain, or the deprivation of basic human needs such as security, love, and self-esteem.
  • Human nature has been sold short… humans have a higher nature which…includes the need for meaningful work, for responsibility, for creativeness, for being fair and just, for doing what is worthwhile and for preferring to do it well.
  • Human beings seem to be far more autonomous and self-governed than modern psychological theory allows for.

Recognise that language has shortcomings

  • But behaviour in the human being is sometimes a defence, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.
  • To the extent that language forces experiences into categories, it is a screen between reality and the human being. In a word, we pay for its benefits… Therefore, while using language, as we must of necessity, we should be aware of its shortcomings.

Have a full toolkit

  • If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
  • To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
  • He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.

Thoughts on …


Positive psychology

  • The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side… It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illnesses, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his psychological health.
  • Good psychology should include all the methodological techniques, without having loyalty to one method, one idea, or one person.
  • What we call ‘normal’ in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and so widely spread that we don’t even notice it ordinarily.

Spirituality and religion

  • The spiritual life is part of the human essence. It is a defining characteristic of human nature, without which human nature is not fully human.
  • Religion becomes a state of mind achievable in almost any activity of life, if this activity is raised to a suitable level of perfection.

Problem solving

  • The best way to view a present problem is to give it all you’ve got, to study it and its nature, to perceive within it the intrinsic interrelationships, to discover the answer to the problem within the problem itself.

More thoughts

  • Every really new idea looks crazy at first.
  • Dispassionate objectivity is itself a passion, for the real and for the truth.
  • Work is that which you dislike doing but perform for the sake of external rewards. At school, this takes the form of grades. In society, it means money, status, privilege.
  • Rioting is a childish way of trying to be a man, but it takes time to rise out of the hell of hatred and frustration and accept that to be a man you don’t have to riot.
  • If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told the nearest land was a thousand miles away, I’d still swim. And I’d despise the one who gave up.
  • I’m someone who likes ploughing new ground, then walking away from it. I get bored easily. For me, the big thrill comes with the discovering.
  • With my childhood, it’s a wonder I’m not psychotic. I was the little Jewish boy in the non-Jewish neighbourhood. It was a little like being the first Negro enrolled in the all-white school. I grew up in libraries and among books, without friends.
  • One cannot choose wisely for a life unless he dares to listen to himself, his own self, at each moment of his life.
  • What is life for? Life is for you.
  • We do what we are and we are what we do.
  • The way to recover the meaning of life and the worthwhileness of life is to recover the power of experience, to have impulse voices from within, and to be able to hear these impulse voices from within — and make the point: This can be done.
  • The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.
  • Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? A good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate?
  • Secrecy, censorship, dishonesty, and blocking of communication threaten all the basic needs.
  • What kind of guilt comes from being true to yourself but not to others? As we have seen, being true to yourself may at times intrinsically and necessarily be in conflict with being true to others.
  • The good or healthy society would then be defined as one that permitted people’s highest purposes to emerge by satisfying all their basic needs.
  • The loss of illusions and the discovery of identity, though painful at first, can be ultimately exhilarating and strengthening.
  • Man is a perpetually wanting animal.
  • A child wants some kind of undisrupted routine or rhythm. He seems to want a predictable, orderly world.
  • The test of a man is: does he bear apples? Does he bear fruit?
  • As one studies these preconditions, one becomes saddened by the ease with which human potentiality can be destroyed or repressed, so that a fully-human person can seem like a miracle, so improbable a happening as to be awe-inspiring. And simultaneously one is heartened by the fact that self-actualizing persons do in fact exist, that they are therefore possible, that the gauntlet of dangers can be run, that the finish line can be crossed.
  • False optimism sooner or later means disillusionment, anger and hopelessness.

On a lighter note

  • Boys will be boys as long as there are no girls in the picture.
  • The chicken came first – God would look silly sitting on an egg.
  • If you treat your children at home in the same way you treat your animals in the lab, your wife will scratch your eyes out. My wife ferociously warned me against experimenting on her babies.
  • I have discovered the missing link between the anthropoid apes and civilized men. It’s us!
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