Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was one of the most significant psychologists of the 20th century. Abraham Maslow’s quotes can help to highlight his theory on human need and the importance of fulfilling our individual potentials to the best of our abilities.
After all, according to Maslow, this has a huge impact on our happiness in life.
What was Abraham Maslow’s Main Theory?
Abraham Maslow’s main theory was that human beings all experience the same needs, but they prioritize and respond to them differently.
He believed that while some people might focus more on physiological needs like food, water, or safety before higher level concerns like love or esteem, everyone has the same basic needs at heart.
These five levels are often known as “the hierarchy of needs” with the most basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid and those more complex needs that have been met appearing as you work your way up toward the top.
When a person is motivated or “driven” by a particular need, they will consistently seek out behaviors that satisfy that need.
Maslow’s hierarchy has five levels: physiological , safety , social , esteem , and self-actualization.
Self-actualization is the most complex level in this hierarchy of needs, with all other needs in lower levels being fulfilled first before focusing on achieving this type of need.
What is Maslow’s theory of self-actualization?
Maslow’s theory of self-actualization described the motivation to fulfill one’s potential.
He believed that unfortunately, this type of motivation was only present in a small fraction of the population.
Maslow originally defined self-actualization as the need for attainment, fulfillment or realization of one’s own full potential and talent.
In fact, Maslow often spoke about the sensation of unhappiness and restlessness that occurs when one is not putting their strengths and potential to full use.
Let that sink in.
You have a duty to yourself and to others to fulfill your potential.
The following quotes and insights by Abraham Maslow, help to inspire this concept – we hope you find them motivational and encouraging.
Inspirational Abraham Maslow Quotes
I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. Abraham Maslow
The fact is that people are good. Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior. Abraham Maslow
Human nature is not nearly as bad as it has been thought to be. Abraham Maslow
It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement. Abraham Maslow
Be independent of the good opinion of other people. Abraham Maslow
The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard…travel may be a flight from confronting the scared–this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous. Abraham Maslow
The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. Abraham Maslow
We fear our highest possibilities. We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under conditions of great courage. We enjoy and even thrill to godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities. Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow Quotes on self-actualization
If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. Abraham Maslow
We fear to know the fearsome and unsavory aspects of ourselves, but we fear even more to know the godlike in ourselves. Abraham Maslow
A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. Abraham Maslow
Being a full human being is difficult, frightening, and problematical. Abraham Maslow
It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be. Abraham Maslow
What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization. Abraham Maslow
If the essential core of the person is denied or suppressed, he gets sick sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes immediately, sometimes later. Abraham Maslow
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself. Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow Quotes on Motivation
Work is that which you dislike doing but perform for the sake of external rewards. At school, this takes the form of grades. In society, it means money, status, privilege. Abraham Maslow
One’s only rival is one’s own potentialities. One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities. In this sense, every man can be a king, and must therefore be treated like a king. Abraham Maslow
We need not take refuge in supernatural gods to explain our saints and sages and heroes and statesmen, as if to explain our disbelief that mere unaided human beings could be that good or wise. Abraham Maslow
It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually. Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow Quotes on Growth
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. Abraham Maslow
All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization. Abraham Maslow
We may define therapy as a search for value. Abraham Maslow
With a tree, all the growth takes place at the growing tips. Humanity is exactly the same. All the growth takes place in the growing tip: among that one percent of the population. It’s made up of pioneers, the beginners. That’s where the action is. Abraham Maslow
In a word, growth and improvement can come through pain and conflict. Abraham Harold Maslow
Marriage is a school itself. Also, having children. Becoming a father changed my whole life. It taught me as if by revelation. Abraham Maslow
Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defence) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day. Abraham Maslow
The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short. Abraham Maslow
In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow Quotes on Education
The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side… It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illnesses, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his psychological health. Abraham Maslow
If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Abraham Maslow
Education can become a self-fulfilling activity, liberating in and of itself. Abraham Maslow
We hope that you’ve found the above collection of quotes by Abraham Maslow thought-provoking and inspirational. To encourage your full potential, we leave you with a final quote:
What one can be, one must be! Abraham H. Maslow
For more inspirational words on happiness and inspiration, be sure to check out: