Self-actualizing well-being

Self-actualization for Maslow consisted of 12-13 characteristics. These were:

  1. Superior perception of reality
  2. Increased acceptance of self, of others and of nature
  3. Increased spontaneity
  4. Increase in problem-centering
  5. Increased detachment and desire for privacy
  6. Increased autonomy, and resistance to enculturation
  7. Greater freshness of appreciation, and richness of emotional reaction
  8. Higher frequency of peak experiences
  9. Increased identification with the human species
  10. Changed (improved) interpersonal relations
  11. More democratic character structure
  12. Greatly increased creativeness
  13. Certain changes in the value system

PERMA well-being defined by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. consists of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement.

When we put the above two models together, we can learn to be well as we actualize. In an individualistic democracy, we can live spontaneously, taking solace in our independence and objectivity. We can focus on building meaningful and intimate relations with others (item #10) whom we accept as we do ourselves. We can achieve superior understandings of reality and solve important problems. We can reach the highest levels of rich, positive emotion (appreciation being one such state of being) through the elusive and mystical peak experience. We can engage in our own evolution as our values–and hence, our characters–change. And we can find meaning in creative endeavors that set our spirits free, igniting our souls with passion that leads us to our ultimate purpose.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Pokémon and prediction

In Season 3, Episode 24 of Pokémon the Series: Gold and Silver (“Wired for Battle!”), a top dojo student and Pokémon trainer battles protagonist Ash and loses. What the episode seems to impart is that experience tells the “real story” in a way that data analysis can’t. Ash’s competitor in this episode relies heavily on his database and predictive model for battling; Ash relies on his gut.

SPOILER:

Does Ash’s foe lose because his instincts are too poor? Is his machine learning lacking? Proper inference relies on the quality of both data and calculation using it. Perhaps the dojo fighter’s ML instincts (specifically, his “process”) need work!*

*I recognize this is not the central point of the episode: but, it still got into a data science mood… 🙂 As a former Pokémon simulator battler and user of many screens, this episode tugged me especially.

Hate in The Flash

In DC’s recent TV show The Flash, protagonist (and hero in disguise) Barry Allen struggles with feelings of hatred toward his main enemy. Eobard Thawne–A.K.A., the Reverse Flash–murders Barry’s mother, Nora, while Allen is just a kid. His father is wrongly accused for the crime, and is sent to prison for nearly the rest of his life.

Barry’s future daughter, also named Nora, wonders if her dad hates Thawne. However understandable The Flash’s feelings are toward his nemesis, though, he never acts on his hatred. This is in part what makes Barry (played by Grant Gustin) a hero: learning to regulate himself, despite his negative emotions.

Unbridled, enacted neuroticism could be anyone’s downfall; or even their kryptonite?! As my favorite book character, Bobby Pendragon once said: “It’s okay to think like a weenie, as long as you don’t act like one”…

Existentialism’s limit: relationality

One of existentialism’s givens is isolation (or alienation). Another is death; we are mortal beings who inevitably perish.

In a relational universe, how can it be that we are inherently alone? This fact would imply that we each die alone, also.

Yet we come into being–are thrown into the world–birthed through the love shared by two individuals. We ultimately die, following a path shared by every living being whose lives already ceased.

We are never truly alone, contra-modern existentialism.

How humanity saves the planet

Learned helplessness explains, more than psychological disorder, why those with high concern for the environment are not as engaged behaviorally. We learn helplessness when a problem feels too big, threatening, abstract–or remote. Abstractness correlates positively with psychological (spatial; temporal; experiential) distance.

When psychological distance is too great, our connection to things or people suffers. When we are disconnected from a situation, it holds no sway over our actions: we feel no will to improve it. The problem persists, and we lose the game.

How do we close psycho-environmental distance? Make a situation’s proximal features apparent. Show people how a global problem is local–perhaps even in their own cities. (Obviously, don’t create problems unnecessarily!)

The above is only one path to solving (e.g.) global climate change. Psychological distance can be bridged by appealing to people’s identities, foremost. These include their political values: liberals tend to show more innate concern for the environment; conservatives are moved more by appeals to, for example, purity.

Social identity is also important: when people feel part of a global collective, they are motivated to get pro environmental. Understanding the cultural psychology of motivation and behavior (conation) facilitates global sustainability. The world’s psychological diversity can then be leveraged to solve environmental problems, like climate change (or pre-societal coronavirus). Appealing to global social identification, pro-sociality (via viral altruism, e.g. social media sharing of good deeds), and distinct political values will help us understand the diverse cultural psychology necessary to leverage.

What does the “psychological diversity” just mentioned consist of? It consists of individualistic and collectivistic sociocultures, along with personality factors. Individualistic individuals are motivated more by personal belief, while collectivists are moved by social influence. Pro-environmental behavior correlates positively with the personality factors Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Openness (e.g., appreciation of aesthetics–i.e., that of nature).

We know–further–that values, beliefs, and “norms” are important for motivating pro-environmentalism. When people believe that their values are threatened, they become more likely to defend what they cherish. For many of us, this is the natural environment.

I’ve performed case studies of important environmentalists in Rachel Carson, Al Gore, Greta Thunberg, Wangari Maathai, and Chico Mendes. By focusing on how they have led their lives in inspiring and self-actualizing ways, I determined what made–and, in Al and Greta’s cases, makes–them unique leaders. My efforts fill a gap in environmental psychology, but this is not the only gap that exists. It will be up to us moving forward to uncover the specific links between the actions taken by an exemplary few with the global plan to preserve the natural environment.

It is up to all of us to do this!

The existentialism of Yu-Gi-Oh!

Meaning – Friendship is inherently meaningful: it is worth laying one’s life on the line, and fighting, for.

Death – Individuals can be sent to the Shadow Realm, usually after losing a Duel. In the original dub, these players are killed (reversibly).

Anxiety – Any Duel can be marked by increased anxiety. The higher the stakes, the greater the anxiety!

Isolation – Players who are sent to the Shadow Realm must try to learn how to live by themselves, usually in a state of never-ending torture…rarely, the heroic protagonist must fight the final boss for himself*!

Freedom – Duelists fight to free their friends–and, ultimately, the world–from the Shadow Realm.

*Perhaps someday, herself?

Pokémon and Shakespeare

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet (Act II, Scene II): “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Centuries later, the creators of the Pokémon: Indigo League anime series made an episode titled, “Island of the Giant Pokémon”. In this, Team Rocket’s Pokémon Ekans and Koffing defend their actions against Ash Ketchum’s partners, claiming that they are not bad–rather, their human trainers are.

These two scenes, despite being from distinct media and stories, are related. Both deal with morality, without explicit use of the term “evil”. Hamlet says to Rosencrantz that morality is merely relative to a given observer’s subjective perception and interpretation. Team Rocket’s Pokémon have a somewhat distinct take: they state that good and evil are determined by particular kinds of beings, i.e., authoritative humans.

It is we who have the power to attach ethical valence to actions (or even things, e.g. the atomic bomb); yet we also are characterized by said valences, ourselves. To quote Rafael from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 4 dub, speaking to the Pharaoh of Yugi’s Millennium Puzzle: “Are you good? Or, are you evil?” This becomes the question for each of us to wrestle with.

The “good” self-actualizing environmentalist

What makes a good self-actualizing environmentalist? For Robert Hartman the axiologist, a good X fulfills its concept’s definition. A good self-actualizing environmentalist has attended sufficiently to their lower four need types–physiological, safety, love, and esteem (probably, but not necessarily, in this order). Further, they self-actualize in the 13 ways outlined by Maslow in being creative, spontaneous, humorous, etc.