Self-actualization is a term used to describe the highest level of psychological development a person can attain—our “fullest potential.” The term was coined by theorist Kurt Goldstein, though used extensively by humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. It captures the idea that with the availability of the right resources, circumstances, and introspection, we can tap fully into our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities, living as our “true selves.” Strategies for attaining self-actualization differ, but most are flexible to accommodate a range of philosophical and religious worldviews.
The New York Times bestselling author of The Element gives readers an inspirational and practical guide to self-improvement, happiness, creativity, and personal transformation. You, Your Child, and School is forthcoming from Viking.
Many people are familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in which he argued that basic needs such as safety, belonging, and self-esteem must be satisfied (to a reasonable healthy degree) before being able to fully realize one's unique creative and humanitarian potential.