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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.

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 “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.

Continental gobbledygook!

“Man is a useless passion” is what Nietzsche’s Superman idea boils down to, and the meaning here ought not to be misunderstood. There can be no greater absurdity than the annihilation of inherent, objective meaning in life, other than to negate the value we place on our selves. Once the latter is done, there is no ideal worth striving for–and so, no life really worth living.

An ideal that would even dare to be so hollow as to be attainable is no real ideal. This is laughably reflective of the all-too-familiar tendency we have to think happiness–happiness in its most basic form!–is something we hope to finally reach. And to place the fool’s foot one step past this inconsistent nonsense, to physically touch an ideal? This is the end of one non-truth and the beginning of the most self-destructive project: the negation of any existential truth, whatever.

Man is a useless passion, and I hold out hope that he’ll stay that way. He is free when he realizes and affirms it!

Can we have a science of ourselves?

This question is tantamount to asking whether we can possess knowledge of ourselves. That we can to some extent is trivial, despite the endeavor’s hurdles (many of which–ironically–the human study of psychology has revealed).

We have developed such successful sciences of physics and chemistry due perhaps to our advantage over their subject matter. This is that we have at least a greater degree of consciousness than do particles, waves, and elements.

It may be argued that human scientists have a greater consciousness of people than the average person does. If this is so, then the epistemology of social science is on somewhat comparable grounds to that of physics and chemistry.

However, it is quite probable that human scientists are not so different from laypeople as all people are from physical objects. This represents an asymmetry worth pausing on in answering this post’s question.

 

Reversing fundamental attribution error

Fundamental attribution error (FAE) is our tendency to fault others and self-aggrandize.

What if we instead understood the difficulties in another’s situation?

What if we also were humble enough to recognize fate’s positive role in our own lives?

If we did both things, maybe we could exercise a fundamental attribution solution!

Do Jung’s archetypes exist?

Neuropsychoanalysis can answer this question. The biological functioning and substrate of humans typically operates below consciousness. Genetics and neurology are biological. Jung’s archetypes are transmitted genetically between successive generations. Archetypes of the collective unconscious are genetic and have such an ontological basis.

Middle Way and prioritizing virtue

A middle way ethic may demand that we balance good and evil within ourselves.

Can we achieve near-perfect balance while affirming (not degrading) value?

The middle way approach to life may be incompatible with affirming virtue over sin…

Then again–opposing biases should cancel one another out. So: perhaps not!

In any case, negating virtue in favor of sin seems suboptimal.

Inspired creation

Creation is my word of the day, having popped up twice so far in different contexts.

It is best for any creative act to be inspired. How do we become inspired?

Inspiration comes from within. Other words that closely resemble “inspiration” are perspirationaspirationrespiration.

(Respiration is a hot topic, today!)

Inspired creation consists of dedicated perspiration. It involves toil through our labors of love.

Keep inspiring, creating, dedicating, perspiring, aspiring, toiling, laboring–and, most sweetly of all–loving!