In The Power Of Peak State, one concept that I describe is the idea of self-actualization. If you are familiar with psychology or self-help literature, you may have heard this term before, but if you have not, it is an important concept to grasp in order to understand peak state.

The term “self-actualization” originated with Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow is renowned for his hierarchy of needs, an outline of the needs by which people are motivated, depicted in a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, there are the basic biological needs we all have, such as food, water, shelter, and sleep. Next, there are the needs related to safety — protection from the elements, stability, freedom from fear, and more. Third on the pyramid is our needs related to belonging — the need for friendship, for affection, for intimacy. Next are our esteem needs, meaning our need to achieve, be independent, to have a certain status, and to gain the respect of ourselves and others. Finally, the peak of the pyramid is self-actualization.

Self-actualization is the achievement of your full potential. Self-actualization is growing towards  total self-fulfillment. When you reach peak state, where you are at the pinnacle of performance, you are self-actualized. If you are wondering what self-actualization looks like, there are several characteristics Maslow describes that are shared by self-actualized people:

  1. They are realistic and tolerant of the unknown.

Self-actualized people are capable of accepting reality for what it is, and are not afraid of what they do not know. They may even be attracted to the mysteries of life, instead of experiencing fear about them.

  1. They accept themselves and others for who they are.

They have a realistic perception of themselves and others, and therefore, do not need to pretend to be anyone but themselves.

  1. They are spontaneous.  

Self-actualized people enjoy the present moment more than other people. They have the ability to be spontaneous and truly enjoy life. They respond organically to the world around them, so they are more open with themselves.

  1. They help others and are not self-obsessed.

Self-actualized people want to help their fellow man, and are motivated by a responsibility to the external world and not just themselves.

  1. They have a sense of humor.

They are able to laugh at themselves and observe the humor in daily life, but do not feel the need to mock other people.

  1. They are very creative.

They do not merely survive, they create. They are passionate about contributing to the larger world around them.

  1. They have deep, intimate relationships.

Self-actualized people are able to form deep bonds with a few people. While they show kindness to strangers and feel a connection with the world as a whole, they have just a few truly deep bonds in their life.  

  1. They appreciate solitude.

Self-actualized people value alone time because it gives them time to explore themselves. While they enjoy the company of others, they are not uncomfortable being alone, and actively seek privacy.

  1. They have peak experiences.

Self-actualized people experience transformative moments of wonder, joy, and awe.
For more information on self-actualization and how to achieve it, read The Power Of Peak State.