Born on this day in Brooklyn, New York, psychologist Abraham H. Maslow (1908-1970) called his school of humanistic psychology the "third force" because it offered another way of looking at human behavior other than through childhood experiences, biological drives, or learned histories.
"I've learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks," explained Maslow who celebrated looking at things with fresh perspective. "All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive."
With his theory of a hierarchy of needs, Maslow believed human beings have a set of basic needs, beginning with physiological needs, then moving on to the need for safety, love, belonging, and self-esteem.
"One can go back toward safety or forward toward growth," he advised about development.
Maslow coined the term self-actualization to describe making "the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities." Self-actualized people had an efficient perception of reality and were autonomous, spontaneous, task centered, and able to develop profound interpersonal relationships.
He also came up with a list of people he thought were healthy and self-actualized that included Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, and others.
Maslow said, "Human nature is not nearly as bad as it has been thought to be. In fact it can be said that the possibilities of human nature have customarily been sold short."
Although his list was criticized for not representing the general population, idealistic Maslow shifted the study of personality from Sigmund Freud's dark pathology to a more positive view of human nature, possibilities, and empowerment.
"If the only tool you have is a hammer," he said, "you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail."
Celebrate your talents... there are so many!