Maslow must have studied human behavior really well to have propounded the theory of the hierarchy of needs. To refresh you with the theory that came about in the 1940s, human behavior is motivated to fulfill needs in the order of Physiological, Safety, Belongingness, and Love, Esteem and Self-Actualization.
It is the logical order that keeps the wheels of human interactions going. If you are struggling to fend for yourself, you are always worried about where the next meal shall come from. Once your hunger is satisfied and you have taken care of it, not just for today but also for the near future, you look to the next need for shelter and companionship. Next, you want to defend what you have built for yourself. Living a relatively secure life, you crave for recognition and status in society. Most of that is achieved with your professional position, extended further into societal placement. All along, it is primarily about elevating yourself in your own eyes. Finally, when you have it all; then, the need to fulfill your intrinsic needs comes into play. This is where your creativity, your interest in self-expression through your passion to the best of your abilities peaks. The goal at this point is personal satisfaction and happiness, oblivious of all that it could entail in terms of name, fame, and money. Sometimes, this is also called the point of spiritual realization.
Now, coming back to my question, is there a short cut to self-actualization?
Maslow believed that in order to fulfill the need for self-actualization, all other needs would have to be not only satisfied but also mastered. On this particular note, I differ. I believe there is a short cut to self-actualization. There are several amongst us that pursue a passion as a profession for the love of it. This allows for your creativity to peak since you enjoy what you do. Happiness and bliss become perennial. Self Esteem is also at its peak or you are oblivious to it. Name, fame & money follow when you excel at what you do. It’s often said that in order to be successful, pursue your passion, not money or other emoluments for when you obsess over them, success eludes you. Everyone out to achieve success dismisses the struggle they go through. You recognize the sacrifices made but do not pay much attention to it, when in pursuit of what you enjoy. Ultimately success happens. In more cases than not, you are oblivious to even success. You practice a passion for the love of it and success which, in worldly terms means the fulfillment of all the other needs follows through. Even if it doesn’t follow through to the extent where you can say that you have mastered the other needs, you really don’t care for you are absorbed in practicing your passion and that itself is success for you. That is self-actualization and it can be independent of the other needs.
As someone said, it’s not the destination but the journey that needs to be experienced and enjoyed. What more can be a better outcome than this?