My Journey towards Creativity and Self-Actualization

I am experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

In my 20s and 30s, I was too preoccupied with getting good grades, working on an MBA degree, and balancing a flourishing career with the duties of child-rearing. These activities were not bad in themselves. In fact, if we believe that there is a time and place for everything, then those years were years meant to instill certain values in me like discipline, focus, drive, hard work, teambuilding, passion, and the like.

But midlife brings with it certain realizations about what truly matter in life and my yoga encounters heightened my sensitivity to making the rest of my own life meaningful in a way that takes me on a different path altogether. Many people talk about freeing up the spirit, living in the moment, following one’s heart, and the like. That used to be mumbo-jumbo to me. But now, the achievements of the past are just that — factual achievements. For some reason, these are no longer that important for me. My family and friends are now more important — and I want to appreciate what they are to me and for me to be more to them than I ever was before.

Blogging and internet-based work have also become my daily fare. Nowhere in my formal education have I learned this and the truth is, most bloggers half my age know more than twice as much about these things as I do. But I know that for as long as I still have the willingness to learn, not be afraid to stumble along the way, and simply enjoy the experiences as they happen, I will be OK.

A book that I recently read by John Izzo, “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” listed down 5 secrets (they are not really secrets because many of us know this already but do not live it):

1. Be true to your self

2. Leave no regrets

3. Become love

4. Live in the moment

5. Give more than you take

This book is my ongoing inspiration. It makes me more keenly aware of each and every encounter, each day that passes, every person I meet, every event that crosses my path, every place I visit. One of my future plans is to attend a workshop being conducted by none other than Jim Paredes (of APO Hiking Society), Tapping the Creative Universe, in hopes that his creativity in many realms (music, writing, singing, etc) rubs off on me and opens up whatever creativity is still dormant.

I am on an adventure — a journey of sorts — to find everything that I am and everything I am capable of doing.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level is self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Jim Paredes posted the item below on his Facebook and it came in the nick of time. I looked at the list and realized that I’m actually experiencing some of these already. It’s also a good reminder to keep working on the rest.

Here, very briefly, are the 19 Characteristics of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer:

1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured–they like it.”

2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

6. Autonomy: “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. Fresh Appreciation: “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.”

8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

9. Human Kinship: “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 individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense…they can be 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 aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

11. Interpersonal Relationships: “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.”

12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

My corporate friends may never understand why I am choosing to start anew on things that are so different from what I was brought up and trained for. Maybe someday, they will.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. karen mary anne
    May 11, 2010 @ 06:22:06

    Jane:
    I just found your blog. I say hello friend! I too left the left brain world for my truest calling, art work. I have been working on a book, writing, pastel work and drawing animation. I obtained a degree in psychology and then pphh… law degree. Yep. I have found that there are many members in this tribe of turning back to the right brain and spiritual life. In a way I felt like I lost my specialness in this new life finding so many that have taken this turn but of course I also love the fellowship. The transition the surrender the turn we take is unique to our own life story and who we are of course but the themes are not, as it turns out, that unique.. like a collective humanity is emerging saying, lets remember what matters… someone had given me a book called “the Artists Way” while I was in law school and I did not read it until after taking the CA Bar Exam (which I did not pass), and thought huh well ok then I will be “me” and it is a great book, especially for writers– I’ve been writing in fiction instead of non-fiction (law writing) and well it has been an exciting adventure..
    God Bless in your journey and thanks for sharing
    Karen Mary Anne

    Reply

  2. Ron
    May 28, 2010 @ 00:58:57

    I too believe that I am on the path to self-actualization. I left the corporate world to pursue a longing in myself that I never fully understood but now things are getting clearer each passing day. Most of the time I marvel at the sudden discoveries and ideas that come from my mind. These discoveries and ideas continue to change the way that I perceive the world and now I have a constant urge to learn about things that I never cared to think about in the past. It’s like a having an “opened third eye” in a very positive way. The turning point for me was embracing my inner self that I used to fear and dislike. Saying it was not easy to do is an understatement but somehow I was able to do it. I believe it was my own resolution of dichotomies. Now I feel like a new person, the result of my conscious and unconscious working together as one complete being that discarded the unnecessary parts of my old self to try and be the best of what I can be.

    Reply

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