The Self Actualization Blues – Few Humans Find The Prize in their Popcorn. Why?

lucky elephant popcorn graphicLife is like a barrel of monkeys.

You’ve got your barrel, your monkeys and everything else.

Some of the keener folks among us have figured out that the trick to living a full life is to spend less time watching the monkeys or their barrel and more effort attempting to decipher everything else.

And “everything else” is exactly what a young and unhappy thinker named Abraham Maslow was curious to discover.

Oy Vey, Watch Those Quiet Kids

As a recently immigrated Jewish child forced to live in a non Jewish community, Abraham felt shunned by his classmates and early on considered himself a social outcast who existed mostly in the periphery of life.

Perhaps it was this deep introspective examination of his early and impressive condition that later led him to search for a broader understanding why people act as they do and fulfilling his desire to make his mark in life, Abraham initially engaged his analytical capacity to become a lawyer.

Thankfully for us, Maslow altered his professional course to earn a degree in psychology where he initially focused on learning everything he could about the closely related culture of primate social dominance and sexual behavior.

Over time he began to study human conduct where his methods of discovery were considered unconventional because the now happy-centric Maslow rejected the standard practice of generating awareness of the human condition through pathology.

Nope, rather than consider the bountiful human dysfunctions which surrounded him, Abe set his sights on determining what made happy and productive people tick.

Abraham Maslow image
Abraham Maslow

By 1943 Maslow had observed enough to publish a paper about the theory of motivation in which he postulated that humans are driven by mostly unconscious needs which might be predicted and modified once revealed.

And while his findings unveiled important aspects of human nature, a very puzzling element to his research revealed itself as well.

It’s A Hard Luck Life For Most

Maslow found that less than 3% of his subjects attained a station in life worth duplicating.

As a result, he made it his life’s work to ensure as many people as possible became acquainted with his findings with the hope that once they were aware of ubiquitous human needs they might satisfy their own requirements and advance their position.

This is what Maslow’s research revealed about the behavior and mindset of Self Actualizing people.


  1. create stuff because they can
  2. do the right thing even when no one is watching
  3. laugh at themselves and encourage it to even the playing field
  4. understand the importance of humility and know the meaning of hubris
  5. respect others because nothing gets dander up like dissing folks
  6. resist acculturation by wallowing in their own character
  7. enjoy being the directors of their lives and living by example
  8. prefer being alone rather than shallow, plentiful relationships
  9. share or deflect credit and accolades to assistants because there’s plenty more where that came from
  10. know the power of incremental evolution and many small accomplishments
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

And if reality does indeed conform to the economist Vilfredo Pareto’s 80 / 20 rule, there are eighteen percent more humans just patiently waiting to be informed of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs so they can engage their own ability to join the self actualized crowd.

Two Sides To The Self Esteem Coin

There is also an ugly side to personal value that pervades our culture through the well publicized personal challenges of celebrities around the world.

Today many entertainment stars, business leaders and political representatives have provided clear warnings that they suffer from an inferiority complex as they are driven to seek artificial fulfillment through destructive behaviors.

These unfortunates:

  • demand the respect of others
  • display a need for status
  • seek fame
  • require glory
  • need recognition
  • capitalize attention
  • develop an authoritarian, demanding reputation
  • crave appreciation
  • suspend and denigrate dignity
  • solicit dominance

The forces at work in a person who is possessed by an inferiority complex carry such a huge burden of negativity that they constantly inhibit positive momentum for everyone involved.

We Need All The Fence Sitters On Our Side

With so many folks mired in an inferiority complex it is important that we develop our comprehension regarding which state of human evolution we are dealing with when we interact with them.

It is our responsibility to avoid accepting blame for the flawed behavior of others while recognizing the potentials of self actualization in those self esteem fence sitters whom we may be able to entice to the fun side of our playground.

And eighteen percent of the barrel of monkeys are really counting on us to develop our “pull”.

Thank you, friend.

Barry out.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Goin’ nowhere, goin’ nowhere
Their tears are fillin’ up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dyin’
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world
Mad world, mad world

Children waitin’ for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sits and listen, sits and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson?
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dyin’
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world
Mad world, mad world

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dyin’
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world
Mad world, mad world
A raunchy young world
Mad world

Barry Williams

Much of what I write will be quite understandable to insane folks.

The rest will be, uh, less understandable...

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  1. 1
    John McNally

    That was a fascinating video Barry, I couldn’t take my eyes off it, waiting to see what shape the kids would create next. 😆

    I came across Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ during a Psychology course, but you just told me far more about him. It’s useful to know the background of an author so you can see what has influenced his theories. 8)

    One aspect of modern life that I find quite disturbing is the ‘celebrity culture’. Not only because of the empty lives ‘celebrities’ seem to live, but also many people seem to aspire to the same lifestyle! 🙄

    I fear that the younger members of the remaining 18% seek fame and fortune for their own sake, with no real purpose or values behind it. I don’t know how you can change this, TV is a powerful enemy.

    John McNally recently posted..To Be- or NOT to Be- a TECHIE

    • 2
      Barry Williams

      Thanks John.

      Yes, I too am concerned about the high number of folks “just existing” without any real purpose in life. Perhaps it is the bountiful amounts of entertainment we are plied with or maybe its the fact that things are changing too fast for people to grab ahold of life…

      Whatever it is, I believe that we’ll look back on these times with consternation and pity because during this huge transition from an analog world to digital world has incredibly and forever altered reality and for the most part, nothing has changed.

      Technology has changed our lives in major ways and unless electricity goes away, they won’t be changing back anytime soon.

      This could be one of the reasons why I like you so much, John. You definitely fall into the S A group.

      Thanks pal, we’ll talk soon.

  2. 3


    this is the most brilliant thing I’ve read all day. Although I must admit my own stupidity in the fact that I have no idea how to implement those in my own life. I do already use some principles outlines in “self actualization”, but maybe I should try more. Although if you really are ‘the director of your own life’ you wouldn’t take recommendations from Maslow 🙂

    It’s also interesting that I’ve came to same conclusions on my own about ‘Two Sides To The Self Esteem Coin’ – those people achieve glory often because of some serious problem, not because they just ‘wanted to’.

    Also the ‘3 percent’ quote is really devastating. Interesting whether it changed in the modern time, where each human are getting more and more insignificant in the global scheme of things. It doesn’t matter that you wrote that brilliant song – there are much more people who did that before you and will do after.

    Thanks for the post, will be coming back to read you!
    Slava recently posted..Learn blogging by being a copy machine

    • 4
      Barry Williams

      Thank you Slava,

      Yes, I think more people are becoming self actualized now that Maslow got the party started. The psychologist Carl Rogers and many others have developed this line of thinking and there are now many purveyors of “the good life” now.

      The serenity a person experiences when they live on purpose is nothing short of breathtaking because this state of mind allows us to experience great pain, sorrow. cheer and revelation – all without getting bent out of shape.

      Self Actualization is definitely a great party to attend.

      Thanks for the comment Slava, have a grand day.

  3. 6
    Bill Murney

    Hi Barry

    Well I certainly qualify for some of the attributes of the SA group, the main one being number 3! I feel most folk take themselves too seriously and need to lighten up especially in the blogging world.

    The video was brilliant and the movements must have taken lots of practice to perfect before filming.

    A point you summed up well was that too many celebrities, business people, politicians and ‘wannabee’ celebrities suffer from the features of the other side to the self esteem coin. I wonder if these people are ever really happy with life.



    • 7
      Barry Williams

      Hello Bill,

      Mister, you couldn’t qualify for a better aspect of self actualization. The ability for us to laugh at ourselves allows all the other good stuff to come into our lives. But it we can’t laugh AT ourselves, chances are good that we will never be able to genuinely laugh WITH others.

      And a life without fun and levity leads to things like religious inquisitions, cultural divisions and nationalities out priding each other by firing up the war machine.

      Yep, having a bit of fun in life can inhibit a whole pile of pain. But who tells us that enjoying our lives is important?

      Thanks for the comment Bill, your time is much appreciated.

      • 8
        Bill Murney

        @Barry Williams,

        Well Barry, I have certainly had lots of fun and if I dropped tomorrow there’s not a lot I would change.

        Now then Barry, don’t get me started on religion, I would really be having a rant. As you may of guessed I am an atheist and consider religion to be the cause of most of the world’s trouble.

        See you soon.


        • 9
          Barry Williams

          @Bill Murney,

          Funny you should mention religion Bill because I am preparing an entire series on how we can make religion work FOR us.

          Mostly I’m thinking about the tall hat / big robes, smoky ball and shiny buried box industries and how they would be negatively affected if a person were to bring this whole charade to a screeching halt.

          Nope, we need to find a way to direct religion without anyone’s knowledge. Just like it is being done now…

          Sir, I salute your uniqueness!

          Later pal.


  4. 10
    Steve Deerfield

    Hi Barry, You’ve done it again. I had to boot up parts of my brain I don’t normally use, lol. Maslow, what a mind! His Hieracrchy of Needs is an incredible accomplishment by itself. I’m going to hang a full blown copy of the behaviors and mindsets of self actualized people on my wall and keep it there until I can rise above the physiological breathing and breast feeding stage 🙁 🙂 Right below it will hang the behaviors of the unfortunates whose mindset remains inferior despite their success. Jules’ Mad World is the perfect icing on a delicious slice of Maslow cake. Many compliments to Chef Williams. Confectionately, Steve D.
    Steve Deerfield recently posted..Social Bookmarking For Internet Marketers

    • 11
      Barry Williams

      Sir, Sir, Sir!

      Don’t be too hard on yourself, my friend.

      I too, am still in the breast feeding stage (I’m starting to think this is not a stage…) and heavy breathing is about the toughest challenge I undertake these days where I can actually finish the job. And even that only counts on those times I don’t pass out…

      Thank you for the compliment and for your creativity in describing my uh, making up of things.

      You are one smart cookie Mr. Deerfield, and I bet you will never crumble.

      Good to be trading air molecules with you pal.

      Have a grand day.


  5. 12
    Richard Davy@Together we will succeed

    Hi Barry,
    Returning the compliment and visiting you, wish I had earlier, but I believe in when the student is ready the teacher will appear, if only we could recognize him or her it would help!
    Great video.
    I remember listening to it many years ago, but not really taking in the words (too young, or too clever to understand the words, maybe?). Though it does seem that many of us have no real direction and are searching, sometimes all the way through our lives for a directional calling, while many times losing our way and hoping to get back on the path though the detours can be fun and add interest in themselves.
    Enjoyed reading through your blog posts. the power of 3 and good luck vs bad luck (bad luck often comes in 3’s?)
    till the next visit
    All the best,
    Richard Davy@Together we will succeed recently posted..Dave Nicholson Coaching Course Week 7

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