How to live a fulfilling human life?

Abraham Maslow was the first psychologist to look specifically at what it takes to live a healthy, fulfilling human life. Prior to Maslow, psychology was focussed on dealing with mental illness and abnormality. Maslow suggested that to be happy, it is not sufficient to just remove sadness.

The 6 basic Human Emotional Needs

Maslow, Victor Frankl and Tony Robbins have developed the idea that there are 6 specific emotional needs that must be met in some way by each individual human being in order for life to have a sense of fulfillment.

These 6 needs must be met in a specific order… You can’t seek variety if you don’t have any safety; you can’t seek growth if you don’t have connection and significance.

  • 1. Safety & 2. Variety
  • 3. Connection & 4. Significance
  • 5. Contribution & 6. Growth

Video: The 6 Emotional Needs of Human Beings

Humanistic psychology

Maslow investigated the ingredients of positive mental health and developed Humanistic psychology. This approach to mental health is guided by the idea that we all possess the inner resources for growth and healing.

The basic principles behind humanistic psychology are simple:

  1. Here and Now is Everything – How you are right now is how you are in life; how you interact with me now shows how you interact with everyone.
  2. You are Responsible – To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions.
  3. You are Worthy – Each person is worthy. I can take negative action, this never stops me being inherently worthy as a human being.
  4. You Need Growth – The ultimate goal of living is personal growth.

The Journey to Fulfilment

A Fulfilling Life or Transcendence is not a state that one attains, but a constant state of becoming. Self-Actualisation is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of “happy ever after”.

No matter how learned or wise you become, if you stop the journey… you lose the sense of fulfilment. This is a journey, not a destination. This is life’s great pilgrimage.

You can’t copy someone else’s fulfilling life and expect personal fulfilment… your journey will be different than every other human being. If you find yourself following another’s footsteps… be careful.

If you liked this post, you will also like 17 Daily personal habits for a fulfilling life and The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People.

Great leaders have high levels of self awareness. One element of self awareness is a good understanding of how human beings differ in terms of personality. The big 5 personality traits can be remembered with the acronym OCEAN.

OCEAN

Trait descriptions and impact on job performance.

  • Opennessinventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious; Openness is positively related to proactivity at the individual and the organizational levels and is negatively related to team and organizational proficiency.
  • Conscientiousnessefficient/organised vs. easy-going/careless; Conscientiousness is positively related to all forms of work role performance.
  • Extroversionoutgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved; Extraversion is negatively related to individual task proficiency.
  • Agreeablenessfriendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached; Agreeableness is negatively related to individual task proactivity.
  • Neuroticism sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident; Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role performance.
Personality Test

If you want to get a quick analysis of your own levels on each of these traits, Cambridge University provide a 3 minute test: Mini-IPIP Big 5 Personality Test

Do you want to know what I am?

Conor’s Big 5 Personality Traits

Here are my results from the Cambridge University test taken 2 December 2019.

There are 3 reasons why a human being makes a change in their habits. If you want to effect a change in your life, or help another with a change that they say they want to make in their life – there are 3 levers that can increase the likelihood that change happens.

The 3 Reasons we Change

  1. Pain – When my perception of current pain is visceral, then I will make the effort required to change. Someone can be in great pain but be unaware of the degree to which they are suffering. If I help myself or other become fully aware of the current pain, change can begin.
  2. Vision – When I can see with extreme clarity where I want to get to, it is more likely that changes will happen. If I have a vague sense of where I want to go, nothing will change. As I make that vision clearer and clearer, more and more believable… change will begin to happen.
  3. Fear of Future Consequences – When I can see the future pain that is coming if I do not change, and I feel it viscerally as if it was a current pain, change can begin to happen. Often I know that there are future consequences, but I haven’t truly taken the time to visualise and feel how bad it will be.

If you want someone to change, including yourself, don’t tell them what to do. Help them feel the current pain, see clearly the vision or feel the future consequences. This is how we help change happen.

4 Approaches to handle anxiety as shared with me several years ago by Pep Mari, psychologist to the Spanish Olympic team. (Check out his youtube channel here, full of great tips, in Spanish)

How to Handle Anxiety:

  1. Avoid – don’t go into the situation that causes you to feel anxiety in the first place
  2. Manage – become aware of your state of anxiety at regular intervals and find tools to increase or decrease your level.
  3. Accept – allow the physical and mental signs of anxiety to exist in you and maintain a state of curiosity and exploration without resisting
  4. Growth – see the anxiety as part of being human and be so focussed on the learning about what it is to be human that you forget about everything except the experience

How To Reduce Stress:

List shared as a comment below the video by Bright Minds

  • 1. Don’t respond to negativity
  • 2. Stay active
  • 3. Eat healthier
  • 4. Read and write more
  • 5. Give without expectations
  • 6. Visualize, then act
  • 7. Spend quality time with family
  • 8. Write ‘thank you’ notes
  • 9. Be a better friend
  • 10. Do a random acts of kindness

MIT Endicott House

I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.

Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?

Dandapani in Barcelona, 2016

Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.

Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?

Because life is finite.

More from Dandapani

Dandapani on Instagram (he takes great photos) https://www.instagram.com/dandapanillc

“How to Concentrate”, Dandapani at TEDx

A short story from the mountains about how removing drag can be more effective than increasing power. Many times we could improve our life by cleaning up the things we do that actively damage ourselves: eating poorly, drinking too much, complaining, remaining angry, holding grudges, positioning myself as a victim.

What do you think? What’s your biggest “drag”?

A big part of Vistage group meetings is working through a CEO’s challenges and helping them get clarity about how they can move forward with their business and their life.

We often find that the biggest obstacle to forward progress is not outside of us, but inside of us.

There are 4 fatal fears.

We also call these “Core Self-Limiting Beliefs”. They are learnt. We are not born with these fears. There are only 2 fear that we are born with: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Every other fear has been learnt. (This does not make them less real or easier to deal with).

These 4 fears will drive a grasping towards something that will never fill me. If I am looking for completion outside of myself, I will never scratch my itch. I need to learn to be able to sit with my fear and anxiety and accept it and accept that I am human and imperfect.

  1. Fear of Failure “I Need Success”
  2. Fear of Rejection “I Need Acceptance”
  3. Fear of Emotional Discomfort “I Need Emotional Comfort”
  4. Fear of Being Wrong “I Need to Be Right”

Each of the fears can be accepted and allowed to exist within me. They will never go away. They will always be there, but I can accept them and not allow them to direct my actions and my words.

One of my most read & shared posts ever is 11 Differences between Busy People and Productive People. Productivity is clearly a theme which resonates with you, my favorite reader.

Coffee
Another of my Productivity secrets

Robert Pozen and Kevin Downey write about 3 keys to productivity over at Harvard Business Review. They share a summary of their work on personal productivity with over 20,000 professionals: What Makes Some People More Productive Than Others

Here’s what Robert & Kevin learnt about Productive People

If you want to become more productive, you should develop an array of specific habits.

Focus on what’s Important

First, plan your work based on your top priorities, and then act with a definite objective.

  • Revise your daily schedule the night before to emphasize your priorities. Next to each appointment on your calendar, jot down your objectives for it.
  • Send out a detailed agenda to all participants in advance of any meeting.
  • When embarking on large projects, sketch out preliminary conclusions as soon as possible.
  • Before reading any length material, identify your specific purpose for it.
  • Before writing anything of length, compose an outline with a logical order to help you stay on track.

Develop the Ability to Focus

Second, develop effective techniques for managing the overload of information and tasks.

  • Make daily processes, like getting dressed or eating breakfast, into routines so you don’t spend time thinking about them.
  • Leave time in your daily schedule to deal with emergencies and unplanned events.
  • Check the screens on your devices once per hour, instead of every few minutes.
  • Skip over the majority of your messages by looking at the subject and sender.
  • Break large projects into pieces and reward yourself for completing each piece.
  • Delegate to others, if feasible, tasks that do not further your top priorities.

Engage with the People, not just the Tasks

Third, understand the needs of your colleagues for short meetings, responsive communications, and clear directions.

  • Limit the time for any meeting to 90 minutes at most, but preferably less. End every meeting by delineating the next steps and responsibility for those steps.
  • Respond right away to messages from people who are important to you.
  • To capture an audience’s attention, speak from a few notes, rather than reading a prepared text.
  • Establish clear objectives and success metrics for any team efforts.
  • To improve your team’s performance, institute procedures to prevent future mistakes, instead of playing the blame game.

How’s your Productivity?

How do you rate yourself on these 3 areas? What is your Achilles Heel when it comes to productivity?

More Productivity

If you liked this post you will also like How to have a Productive Dayand How to take Better Decisions.

Starting is easy.  There are no prizes for starting the marathon.  You get the medal for finishing.

Most people I know are good at starting.  Few people I know are good at finishing.

Who do you know who is good at finishing?

What do they do differently?

The closer you get to the end, the stronger the emotional resistance grows.

“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”

Pablo Picasso

I thrive on interaction.  This blog gives me a short term feedback as I write. I can hit publish after 15 to 20 minutes and immediately get responses. 

I’ve consistently failed to write a book because I am addicted to the short term feedback of blog comments, of emails, of youtube videos…  I’ve never been able to commit to the 3 year process of writing without “likes” and comments.

The question for me: is it still important to me to write a book?

In his TED talk, Stephen Duneier explains that what defines him are not titles, but an approach to decision making that transformed him from someone who struggled with simple tasks to a guy who is continuously achieving even his most ambitious dreams.

For thirty years, he has applied cognitive science to investing, business and life. The result has been the turnaround of numerous institutional businesses, career best returns for managers who have adopted his methods, the development of a $1.25 billion dollar hedge fund and a rapidly shrinking bucket list.

“Every one of my report cards basically said the same thing: Steven is a very bright young boy, if only he would just settle down and focus.”

“What they didn’t realize was I wanted that even more than they wanted it for me, I just couldn’t. And so, from kindergarten straight through the 2nd year of college, I was a really consistent C, C- student. But then going into my junior year, I’d had enough. I thought I want to make a change. I’m going to make a marginal adjustment, and I’m going to stop being a spectator of my decision-making and start becoming an active participant.”

“And so, that year, instead of pretending, again, that I would suddenly be able to settle down and focus on things for more than five or ten minutes at a time, I decided to assume I wouldn’t. And so, if I wanted to achieve the type of outcome that I desire – doing well in school – I was going to actually have to change my approach. And so I made a marginal adjustment. If I would get an assignment, let’s say, read five chapters in a book, I wouldn’t think of it as five chapters, I wouldn’t even think of it as one chapter. I would break it down into these tasks that I could achieve, that would require me to focus for just five or ten minutes at a time. So, maybe three or four paragraphs. That’s it.”

“I would do that and when I was done with those five or ten minutes, I would get up. I’d go shoot some hoops, do a little drawing, maybe play video games for a few minutes, and then I come back. Not necessarily to the same assignment, not even necessarily to the same subject, but just to another task that required just five to ten minutes of my attention. From that point forward, all the way through to graduation, I was a straight-A student, Dean’s List, President’s Honor Roll, every semester.”

“I then went on to one of the top graduate programs in the world for finance and economics. Same approach, same results. So then, I graduate. I start my career and I’m thinking, this worked really well for me. You know, you take these big concepts, these complex ideas, these big assignments, you break them down too much more manageable tasks, and then along the way, you make a marginal improvement to the process that ups the odds of success in your favor. I’m going to try and do this in my career. So I did. I started out as an exotic derivatives trader for credit Swiss. It then led me to be global head of currency option trading for Bank of America”

Mr. Duneier teaches graduate courses on Decision Analysis in UCSB’s College of Engineering. His book, AlphaBrain is due for release in early 2017 from Wiley & Sons. Through Bija Advisors, he helps business leaders improve performance by applying proven, proprietary decision-making methods to their own processes. His artwork has been featured around the world and is represented by the Sullivan Goss Gallery. As Commissioner of the League of Professional Educators, Duneier is using cognitive science to alter the landscape of American education. He is the former Head of Currency Option Trading at Bank of America and Emerging Markets at AIG International.

For more on achieving goals, check out 6 Reasons we Give Up on Goals and Finding Purpose and Defining a Vision for your Life.