The Traits of a Self-Actualized Person
1. They perceive reality accurately and fully.
Their perceptions are not colored by specific needs or defenses. In other words, their perception of the world is characterized by B-cognition rather than by D-cognition.
2. They demonstrate a greater acceptance of themselves, others, and/or nature.
Because self-actualizers have accepted both the good and the bad in everything there is no need to deny the negative aspects of anyone or any thing. They are therefore more tolerant of things as they are.
3. They exhibit spontaneity, simplicity and naturalness.
Self-actualizers tend to be true to their feelings; what they really feel they tend to say and/or experience. They do not hide behind a mask and do not act in accordance with social roles. They are true to themselves.
4. They tend to be concerned with projects and issues rather than with themselves.
Self-actualizers are typically committed to some task, cause, or mission toward which they can direct most of their energies. This is contrasted with the preoccupation with one’s self often found in non-actualizers.
5. They have a quality of detachment and a need for privacy.
Because self- actualizing individuals depend on their own values and feelings to guide their lives they do not need to be in constant contact with other people.
“It is often possible for them to remain above the battle, to remain unruffled, undisturbed by that which produces turmoil in others. They find it easy to be aloof, reserved and also calm and serene; thus it becomes possible for them to take personal misfortunes without reacting violently as the ordinary person does. They seem to be able to retain their dignity even in undignified surroundings and situations. Perhaps this comes in part from their tendency to stick by their own interpretation of a situation rather than to rely upon what other people feel or think about the matter. This reserve may shade over into austerity and remoteness.”
6. They are autonomous and therefore tend to be independent of their environment.
Because self actualizers are B-motivated rather than D-motivated they are more dependent on their own inner world than on the outer world.
“Deficiency motivated people must have other people available since most of their main need gratifications (love safety. respect, prestige, belongingness) can come only from otherhuman beings. But growth motivated [B-motivated] people may actually be hampered by others. The determinants of satisfaction and of the good life are for them now inner-individual and not social. They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people or even of their affection. The honors, 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.”
7. They exhibit a continued freshness of appreciation.
Self-actualizers continue to experience the events in their lives with awe, wonder and pleasure. Every baby or sunset is as beautiful and exciting as the first they had seen. Marriage is as exciting after forty years as it was in the beginning. Generally such individuals derive great inspiration and ecstasy from the basic experiences of everyday life.
8. They have periodic mystic or peak experiences.
Maslow believed that all humans had the potential for peak experiences but only self-actualizers could have them full blown, since such individuals were not threatened by them and therefore would not inhibit or defend in any way. Generally peak experiences are the embracing of B-values.
“Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of great ecstasy, and wonder, and awe, the loss of placing in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject is to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences.”
Maslow concluded that some self-actualizers peak more often than others. The non-peakers (low frequency of peak experiences) tend to be practical effective people. Peakers (relatively high frequency of peak experiences) tend to be more poetic, aesthetically oriented, transcendent and mystical.
9. They tend to identify with all of mankind.
The concerns that self actualizers have for other people do not extend only to their friends and family but to all people in all cultures throughout the world. This feeling of brotherhood extends also to individuals who are aggressive, inconsiderate, or otherwise foolish. Self-actualizers have a genuine desire to help the human race.
10. They develop deep interpersonal relations with only a few individuals.
Self-actualizers tend to seek out other self-actualizers as their close friends. Such friendships are few in number but are deep and rich.
11. They tend to accept democratic values.
Self-actualizers do not respond to individuals on the basis of race, status or religion. They can be and are friendly with anyone of suitable character regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not even aware of these differences which are for the average person so obvious and important.
12. They have a strong ethical sense.
Although their notions of right and wrong are often unconventional, self actualizers, nonetheless almost always know the ethical implications of their own actions
13. They have a well developed, unhostile sense of humor.
Self-actualizers tend not to find humor in things that injure or degrade other humans. Rather they are more likely to laugh at themselves or at human beings in general.
14. They are creative.
Maslow found this trait in all of the self-actualizers.
“This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception. This creativeness appears in some of our subjects not in the usual forms of writing books, composing music, or producing artistic objects, but rather may be much more humble. It is as if this special type of creativeness being an expression of healthy personality is projected out upon the world or touches whatever activity the person is engaged in. In this sense there can be creative shoemakers or carpenters or clerks.”
This creativity comes from the fact that self actualizers are more open to experience and more spontaneous in their feelings. It is directly related to B-motivation.
15. They resist enculturation.
Self-actualizers tend to be nonconformists since they are inner-directed people. If a cultural norm is contrary to their personal values they simply will not adhere to it.