Quotations about   self-actualization

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I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman, or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are.

Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison (b. 1960) Scottish comic book writer and playwright
“All Star Memories: Grant Morrison on All Star Superman, Part 1,” Interview with Zack Smith, Newsarama.com (21 Oct 2008)
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Added on 3-Sep-22 | Last updated 3-Sep-22
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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
“Miscellany: Last Words,” The New Statesman (25 Feb 1933)
 
Added on 29-Mar-22 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) American writer, feminist, activist
The Feminine Mystique, ch. 14 (1963)
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Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 17-Mar-22
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Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 23-Sep-21 | Last updated 23-Sep-21
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Being asked how the educated differ from the uneducated, “As much,” he said, “as the living from the dead.”

[ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνι διαφέρουσιν οἱ πεπαιδευμένοι τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, “ὅσῳ,” εἶπεν, “οἱ ζῶντες τῶν τεθνεώτων.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 19]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

On one occasion he was asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated; “As much,” said he, “as the living are to the dead.”
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

When asked what the difference was between those who were educated and those who were not, Aristotle said "as great as between the living and the dead."
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

When asked how the educated differ from the uneducated, he said, "as much as the living from the dead."
[tr. Mensch (2018)]

 
Added on 24-Aug-21 | Last updated 24-Aug-21
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We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965)
 
Added on 3-Aug-21 | Last updated 3-Aug-21
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Man must accept the responsibility for himself and the fact that only by using his own powers can he give meaning to his life. But meaning does not imply certainty; indeed, the quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel a man to unfold his powers. If he faces the truth without panic, he will recognize that there is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers, by living productively.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
Man for Himself, ch. 3 (1947)
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Added on 7-Dec-20 | Last updated 7-Dec-20
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If you are what you ought to be, you will set fire to all Italy, and not only yonder.

[Se sarete quello che dovete essere, metterete fuoco in tutta Italia, non tanto costì.]

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Italian Catholic mystic, activist, author
Letter 368 to Stefano Maconi
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." [Quoted by Bishop Richard Chartres, sermon, Royal Wedding, Westminster Abbey (29 Apr 2011)]
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" [Quoted by Pope John Paul II, Closing Homily at World Youth Day, Tor Vergata (20 Aug 2000)]
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire."
  • "Become who God intended you to be and you will set the world on fire."
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!"
Original Italian.
 
Added on 7-Oct-20 | Last updated 7-Oct-20
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Young people, who are still uncertain of their identity, often try on a succession of masks in the hope of finding the one which suits them — the one, in fact, which is not a mask.

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) Anglo-American poet [Wystan Hugh Auden]
“One of the Family” (1965), Forewords and Afterwords (1973)
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Added on 25-Sep-20 | Last updated 25-Sep-20
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One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works.

Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?) German Dominican mystic, theologian [a.k.a. Eckehart von Hochheim]
Work and Being (14th C.)


Note: I haven't found a text by that name in Eckhart's bibliography, nor this quotation anywhere connected with anything but that title or none at all.
 
Added on 23-Sep-20 | Last updated 23-Sep-20
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To do the work that you are capable of doing is the mark of maturity.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) American writer, feminist, activist
The Feminine Mystique (1963)
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Added on 3-Feb-20 | Last updated 3-Feb-20
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I believe you are your work. Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
(Attributed)
 
Added on 18-Sep-19 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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The paradox of education is precisely this — that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it -– at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“The Negro Child — His Self-Image,” speech (16 Oct 1963)
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Speech to educators, first published as "A Talk to Teachers," The Saturday Review (21 Dec 1963). The thesis above is restatated at the end in these words, more frequently quoted: "I began by saying that one of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person."
 
Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life?

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
New Seeds of Contemplation, ch. 14 “Integrity” (1962)
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Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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HAL9000: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) American film director, screenwriter, producer
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [with Arthur C. Clarke]
 
Added on 22-Nov-17 | Last updated 22-Nov-17
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I believe that happiness consists in having a destiny in keeping with our abilities. Our desires are things of the moment, often harmful even to ourselves; but our abilities are permanent, and their demands never cease.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Reflections on Suicide (1813)
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Added on 21-Aug-17 | Last updated 21-Aug-17
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I resist, therefore I am.

James W. "Jim" Douglass (b. 1937) American author, activist, Christian theologian
“Revolution through Solitude,” Resistance and Contemplation (1972)
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Added on 4-Jul-17 | Last updated 4-Jul-17
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An aim in life is the only fortune worth the finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the heart itself.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
The Amateur Emigrant, ch. 4 “Steerage Types” (1895)
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Added on 30-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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Being like everybody is like being nobody.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
(Attributed)
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Frequently attributed, but never cited. In the Twilight Zone episode, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" (ep 05x17), the protagonist comments, "But is that good, being like everybody? I mean, isn't that the same as being nobody?" That episode is credited to Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin.
 
Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
(Spurious)


This aphorism is frequently attributed to Shaw, but not found in his works and not attributed to him or in this form before around 1990. It may be a misattributed paraphrase from Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973): "People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates."
 
Added on 31-Jul-15 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others! My manner of thinking stems straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am made. It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I’d not do so.

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814) French aristocrat, philosopher, writer, libertine [The Marquis de Sade]
Letter to his wife (1783)
 
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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Times of trouble best discover the true worth of a man.

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German monk, author
The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, ch. 16 (c. 1418) [tr. L. Sherley-Price (1952)]
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Alt trans.: "The measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity -- adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is."
 
Added on 5-Jun-09 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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You might have been enough the man you are
With striving less to be so.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 23ff [Volumnia] (c. 1607)
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Added on 14-Oct-05 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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