According to psychologist Abraham Maslow people who live as the best version of themselves and hold themselves accountable for their happiness are “fully human.” You’ve probably seen Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs pyramid – it’s a leading human behaviour theory explaining the motivations behind us as humans.
People have always struggled with the idea of “self-actualisation” (a.k.a. being fully human). However, Maslow’s didn’t create the pyramid. He wrote about a hierarchy, and someone else thought it was a pyramid.
Humanistic psychologist S. B. Kaufman reworked the pyramid in human behaviour in his book, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualisation. Being fully human, Kaufman says, is about living in the moment and doing what you love. According to him, when you’re achieving your purpose, and you’re responsible for your actions, you are aligned within yourself and can make a meaningful contribution to the world.
Consequently, if you don’t take responsibility for your actions, most probably you’ll feel anxious all the time and blame everyone and everything but yourself. If you don’t remember the last time you felt happy, if you feel uninspired or lost, if you feel like you’re on the wrong path, then start with the basics of self-actualisation by being responsible.
How to take responsibility?
- Don’t blame others
When you’re too busy to blame other people, it becomes difficult to see your faults. Even in situations where you’re the victim, blaming others doesn’t get you very far. Instead, it causes anger and negative energy to linger. When you stop blaming and accept responsibility, you’re no longer the victim, and you’ll be able to change the situation.
- Don’t complain
Complaining plagues your thoughts with negative energy and, therefore, rids you of the ability to solve problems. When you stop complaining, you start thinking more positively. As a result, you’ll then be able to focus on all the things you can do to make things right.
- Own your mistakes
Great people are not afraid to admit they are wrong, and they make sure they don’t repeat the same mistakes twice. Great leaders grow in the eyes of their followers, and when they apologise and make sure they do things differently or not at all in the future, this behaviour makes their followers see them as human beings who take responsibility for their mistakes and learn from them.
- Refuse to take anything personal
Remember, you don’t have control over how other people respond, you only have control over how you respond. Refuse to take anything personal. It is most probably not about you, but about the issue at hand. Instead of making assumptions, rather ask questions.
Ask yourself, “Is this about me, or the issue at hand?”
- Make yourself happy
Taking responsibility for your happiness is liberating. Firstly, try to realise that happiness does not come from outside of you. It is not the job of your partner, parent, friend, child, and so, to make you happy.
To be happy is a decision and the gateway to happiness is gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal, and you will find lots to be happy about. Also, try to do more things that make you feel happy. Listen to your favourite music, express your creativity, go out, do acts of kindness, etc.
- Live in the present moment
Life is now. There is only one moment, now. Take responsibility for this moment and make the best of it to redeem the past and create the future you want. Be the gatekeeper of your thoughts and refuse to overthink past to imaginary situations over and over again.
Choose your thoughts carefully in every moment, and when you become present, you are aware of what you are thinking and feeling.
Ask yourself, “Am I in the present moment and what do I want?”
- Look for the good in people
There’s a saying that we judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their behaviour. Make it your new habit to look for the intentions behind people’s behaviour. So often when we understand where someone comes from, we let go of judgement.
Ask yourself, “If I just see him/her as a human being, how will I respond differently?”
Another effective practice is listening to understand instead of listening to respond. This means to practice asking questions to understand what the other person means, instead of waiting for a chance to interrupt and say your opinion.
This allows you to take responsibility to intentionally have illuminating conversations and fulfilling relationships because the person that you are talking to will appreciate your attention, thus will trust you, and support you in return.