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There Is No One Way to Live a Good Life

Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships have the extraordinary potential to expand our selves. 

They create a 'role engulfment' where one's identity is based entirely on one specific role of being a good lover/partner. It is conducive to one's growth and health and eventually applies to the self, and one starts to help others selflessly.


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There Is No One Way to Live a Good Life

There Is No One Way to Live a Good Life


Key Ideas

The 2 Models of Human Development

  • The 'Surrender Yourself' model dials up your levels of happiness as you progress from your basic needs (like food and good health) towards your achievements like recognized success, or creative expression. The pinnacle of this human development model is complete surrender.
  • The 'Fully Human' model is a more subjective way of helping you find your own path. When our most important needs like food, shelter, safety, and stability are met, followed by our need to love, belong and connect with others, we then pursue mastery.


It implies acknowledging and respecting the sacredness and uniqueness of each kind of person. Self-Actualization also necessitates full access to information, full knowledge of the truth, and being able to choose without fear or social pressure.

The one thing left out of this theory is social psychology, as all the needs of a human being cannot be understood in isolation and social conditions are also necessary for personal growth.


It involves advancing a cause greater and beyond the self, experiencing a drastic shift in perspective, beyond the confines of the self through the highest level of experience.

Self-transcenders have a completely selfless value system and are leaning towards serving humanity, with an eventual goal of transcending their ego.

Healthy Selfishness

It happens when one is indulging in self-care without any damage to others. It leads to growth, meaning, and purpose in life, including positive social relationships.

Pathological altruism, on the other hand, is trying to give or help others in ways that may cause harm to yourself or others.

Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships have the extraordinary potential to expand our selves. 

They create a 'role engulfment' where one's identity is based entirely on one specific role of being a good lover/partner. It is conducive to one's growth and health and eventually applies to the self, and one starts to help others selflessly.


Abraham Maslow

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear mu..."

Abraham Maslow
Deficiency vs. Growth

Abraham Maslow argued that all needs could be grouped into two main classes: deficiency and growth.

  • Deficiency needs are motivated by a lack of satisfaction, such as the lack of food, safety, affection, belonging, or self-esteem. The higher the need, the more we change reality to satisfy the most deficient needs.
  • Growth needs have a different sort of wisdom. Instead of being driven by fears and anxieties, it is more accepting and loving. It is asking, "What choices will lead me to greater integration and wholeness?" rather than "How can I defend myself?"
Forming a faulty deficiency mindset

At a young age, when an expression of a need is disregarded as not as important as the needs of the caretaker, a child may get the message that they are not loved while they have this need.

This causes people to behave in a way they think they should feel, not how they really feel. As adults, they are always influenced by others' opinions and driven by their insecurities and fears of facing themselves.

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Abraham Maslow And The Hierarchy Of Needs
Abraham Maslow And The Hierarchy Of Needs

Abraham Maslow, the famous psychologist, had worked on a theory that linked self-actualization to spirituality and self-transcendence.

His Hierarchy Of Needs Pyra...

Ten Characteristics Of Self-Actualization
  1. Continued appreciations of the same objects, events and circumstances.
  2. Acceptance of one’s quirks and desires.
  3. Maintaining authenticity and dignity.
  4. Maintaining equanimity towards life’s inevitable ups and downs.
  5. Having a purpose in life.
  6. Pursuing the real, unadulterated truth about people and nature.
  7. A genuine desire to help mankind.
  8. Having internal peak experiences, opening new dimensions of the mind.
  9. Having a conscience.
  10. Being a creative spirit while doing any kind of action.
Self-Actualization: From Darkness To Light

Self-Actualization is an internal struggle that one must take by leaning towards stability and our higher goals while minimizing disruption from distracting thoughts and impulses (disruptive impulsivity).

One also has to look out for oneself to not fall in the dark abyss of negativity and doubt, apart from feeling directionless or meaningless.

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Expectations of marriage

People are increasingly seeking self-actualization within their marriages. On top of the age-old love and cherish, the hope is that our spouse will help us grow to become a better version of our...

The cultural shift
  • Before the 1950s, there were well-defined expectations for how people should behave. Women were supposed to be nurturing, but not too assertive. Men were supposed to be assertive but not really nurturing.
  • Around the 1960s, we rebelled as a society against the norms and preferred humanistic psychology with ideas about human potential and the possibility of living a more authentic life.
Fulfillment of goals

The changing nature of our expectations of marriage has made more marriages fall short and disappoint us. But the fulfillment of a new set of goals is now within reach.

We can have a beautiful set of experiences with our spouse. We can have a particularly satisfying marriage, but we can’t do it if we’re not spending the time and the emotional energy to understand each other and help promote each other’s personal growth.

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The theory of motivation
The theory of motivation
The theory of Maslow represents itself as a pyramid that explains the levels of needs.
  • The lowest and first one is physical needs such as water, food, and air. 
  • Second, ...

Self-esteem is the subjective evaluation of your own worth. There are two sources to fulfill this need:

  1. The need for respect from others that is obtained from recognition and admiration.
  2. The need for self-respect in the form of self-love, skill or aptitude. If you buy things because you want to prove yourself, you will fulfill your need for self-love.

    Self-actualization is the realization of one's uniquely creative, intellectual, or social potential. It is a very personal experience.

    When their need for self-esteem is fulfilled, where they have accepted themselves for the good and the bad, people move on to self-actualization.

    Adaptation and happiness

    Adaptation is the enemy of happiness.

    We buy things to make us happy. And they do, but only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.

    Experiences vs. Objects

    Objects fade and become part of the new normal. So you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling. 

    Experiences really are part of ourselves. We are the sum total of our experiences.

    Shared experiences

    They connect us more than shared consumption.

    Even if someone wasn’t with you when you had a particular experience, you’re much more likely to bond over both having hiked the Appalachian Trail or seeing the same show than you are over both owning Fitbits.

    The Paradox Of Our Dark Side
    The Paradox Of Our Dark Side

    In a world that is thought to be black and white, where the good is desirable and the bad is looked down upon, each one of us has a dark side, which according to conventional wisdom, is to ...

    Light And Dark Triads

    Our personalities have two distinct triads: The Light Triad and The Dark Triad. The dark ones sometimes overlap with the light ones to form a complete personality.

    The Dark Triad, which is associated with the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride and Envy) seems to be very fascinating, with many researchers drawn towards it just like viewers are drawn to serial-killer shows and murder mysteries.

    The Dark Area Of Our Personalities

    There are certain personality traits in literature that fall under the Dark Triad:

    • Machiavellianism: A tendency to strategically exploit or deceive other people.
    • Subclinical Narcissism: It means focusing towards the self, giving oneself entitlement and importance.
    • Subclinical Psychopathy: A tendency to be insensitive and cruel with regards to others.

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    College as an investment
    College as an investment

    College is often described as an investment in the future. You pay upfront so you can benefit for years afterwards. According to research, as of 2011 a college degree delivered an ...

    The benefits of college depend on the particulars of each person

    While the evidence on the economic and happiness benefits is mixed, attending college depends on the particulars of each person.

    A child's gifts, circumstances, and career ambitions all affect whether college is the right choice. But, the parents are often more excited that their child will get into college while the child does not want to be there in the first place. While college is the right choice for many, it is good to remember that there is not just one path to success.

    Challenging yourself

    The idea of challenging yourself is one of the pillars of personal development.

    By that, you grow as a person and you learn to trust yourself more, which greatly increases your likelih...

    Ways of challenging yourself

    The best ones in my view are the ones that meet 3 fundamental conditions:

    1. They take you out of your comfort zone without putting you in serious danger
    2. They provide you an intense, accelerated learning experience
    3. They help you develop skills and attitudes that are highly valuable to you in life.
    Meeting New People

    This stimulates your social skills to grow

    You learn how to talk with all sorts of people and to keep conversations flowing. You  also get better at cues, and you become more skilled at navigating complex social situations.

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    "How are you?"

    One of the small consequences of the pandemic is that it is turning “How are you?” into a question again.
    In ordinary times, people don’t ask “How are you?” because they want a rea...

    Unsuitable language

    The pandemic has illustrated the deep interconnections among people, how profoundly interdependent we are, and how we need one another.
    But our languages lag. The pleasantries we usually use are not well equipped to account for our tragedies.

    The bias towards optimism

    Pleasantries are optimistic things; they insist on seeing the bright side of any situation.
    A pandemic, however, is not a moment of “I’m fine, thanks.” It is not a moment for the superficially polite. It is a moment to be caring, by discarding some of the traditional politeness. Find linguistic hacks, to emphasize that you don’t want to know how someone is doing in a typical way, but instead in a way that is tailored to this dreadful moment: How are you … considering? How are you doing … with all this?

    Don't follow your passion
    The main flaw of  “finding your passion” presupposes that interests and passions are fixed, rather than fluid and evolving as we age and gain wisdom and experience. 
    The problem with following your passion
    • It ignores the market. Unless you have a trust fund waiting for you, you’ll have to feed yourself and others. 
    • It will turn a passion into a job. 
    Learn from Startups
    1. Identify real needs in the market that are currently not being well met. 
    2. Assess your strengths: Whatever is easy for you that most others have a harder time with, that’s a worthy option.
    3. Match up these two in a constantly iterative process: This process takes many years if not decades.

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