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Transcend - What It Takes to be a Good Human Being

Many of us may know Abraham Maslow from his pyramid of human needs with self-actualization at the top. My first encounter was Maslow's ideas was in a college Introduction to Psychology course. I was eighteen years old. The simplicity of the pyramid made sense and the self-actualization part at the pinnacle fascinated me.

I wondered if I would make it to the top.

When I recently read a review of the mindshifting book titled Transcend - the new science of self-actualization., I had to know more; especially when the hook was - "The Pyramid Was a Lie". At a time when we can all benefit from good health, growth, creativity, connection, and love; reading the book was a pleasure.

As a high school teacher I taught my students about the pyramid in my Marketing Principles class. So, it didn't surprise me to learn that it was a marketing person who put Maslow's theories about humans into a neat pyramid. The author, of Transcend wanted to do justice and pay honor to Maslow's work. He researched expanded upon Maslow's complex ideas and came up with a new visual that is more adequate dipiction of the human experience.

Kaufman wrote:

“The human condition isn’t a competition; it’s an experience. Life isn’t a trek up a summit but a journey to travel through—a vast blue ocean, full of new opportunities for meaning and discovery but also danger and uncertainty. In this choppy surf, a clunky pyramid is of little use. Instead, what is needed is something a bit more functional. We’ll need a sailboat.”

What drove Maslow also drives Kaufman's work; a need for understanding what it means to be a good human being.

Again from Kaufman:

A boat protects us from seas that are rarely as calm as we’d like. Having a secure boat is not enough for real movement, however.
You also need a sail…Each level of the sail allows you to capture more wind, helping you explore and adapt to your environment. Unlike climbing a mountain or a pyramid a boat requires you to open your sail to everyone and every experience.

I'm not surprised that one of Kaufman's book reviewers is Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg, who emphasizes that we become our best selves in our connection to each other.

I love the connection piece because it is one has become a mantra for me. Meaning, love, self-realization, and even transcendence happens in connection to each other and the world. When we explore together in an ongoing journey of discovery, openness and courage we can find truth, beauty, purpose, connection, gratitude, and awe.

At age eighteen I wondered if I could do it alone. At age 61, I know I don't have to.

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