I first learned about Abraham Maslow in Mr. J.T. Ellis’ Psychology class my junior year at Tulare Union High School, and I’ve been fascinated by his theory “The Hierarchy of Needs” ever since. Maslow thought that human beings have five levels of needs, stacked on top of each other like a pyramid, and that a person can only worry about meeting the needs at the next level after they’ve taken care of the level below. For example, once you find food and water, and can, you know, breathe, you can look for shelter. Once you’ve got food, water, and shelter covered, then you can worry about having friends, being liked, finding a significant other, etc. After those three is esteem, for yourself and from others. But it’s the top of the pyramid, the last level, that has always fascinated me the most. He called the top of the pyramid “self actualization,” the sense that you are being true to yourself, pursuing your passions, and living the life you want to live.
I don’t know why I’m wired this way, but I’ve always been interested in art, music, design, films, fonts, architecture, plays, just all manner of creativity. When I’m at a museum, or watching a live band, or seeing a play, or dissecting a film or TV show to figure out what it’s REALLY trying to say, I feel like not only am I indulging my own interests, but I’m also validating the artist by enjoying their creation. We’ve all had those moments where you’re doing something you know you’re good at, that you enjoy doing, that you know you’re made to do, and you get lost in not only the enjoyment of doing the task, but also in KNOWING that you’re doing that thing that you love. In that moment, Maslow says you are being your true self: you are self actualized. For me, that’s playing drums, and when I’m on stage performing, it’s like time stops and I’m enraptured in the moment, I am my fully idealized self, doing what I love to do, and if there was a version of my life where I could do this all the time, I would definitely choose that life. Maslow called those moments “peak experiences.”
The Maslow Peak Podcast is based on that idea, self actualization — pursuing your passions and becoming your true self. We interview artists, entrepreneurs, and others about how they got where they are (whether that’s at the peak or on the journey), how they knew that was absolutely what they wanted to do with their lives, and how they found a way to move towards that goal. You’ll hear about their craft, their routine, their creative process, their successes and struggles, and their words of wisdom. If you’re like me, and there’s a part of you that feels like you’re not necessarily doing what you’re meant to be doing, hopefully hearing their stories will inspire you to take some steps towards where you want to be, whether that’s as a career or just a creative side project.
Thanks for listening.