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Abraham Maslow quotes on motivation and being human

Abraham Maslow was an academic, educator, psychologist, and scholar. He is most famous for his theory of “self-actualization.” This means that the happiest people were able to satisfy not only their basic needs, but also their psychological needs, fully incorporating elements of their personality into themselves and what they do.

Maslow was practitioner of humanistic psychology. During his lifetime, he published written works such as Motivation and Personality (1954), and Toward a Psychology of Being (1962). He was influenced by brilliant minds of his time, and he was one of the great contributors to the subject that we are familiar with today.

Looking for Abraham Maslow quotes?

Enjoy this collection of our favorite Abraham Maslow quotes.

Famous Abraham Maslow quotes on the hierarchy of needs

1. “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

2. “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

3. “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

4. “What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.” – Abraham Maslow

5. “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

6. “If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told the nearest land was a thousand miles away, I’d still swim. And I’d despise the one who gave up.” – Abraham Maslow

7. “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

8. “Most people experience both tragedy and joy in varying proportions. Any philosophy which leaves out either cannot be considered to be comprehensive.” – Abraham Maslow

9. “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

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10. “Not allowing people to go through their pain, and protecting them from it, may turn out to be a kind of over-protection, which in turn implies a certain lack of respect for the integrity and the intrinsic nature and the future development of the individual.” – Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow quotes on motivation and personal growth

11. “It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” – Abraham Maslow
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of psychology quotes that will help you understand yourself.

12. “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

13. “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

14. “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” – Abraham Maslow

15. “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

16. “Be independent of the good opinion of other people.” – Abraham Maslow

17. “Getting used to our blessings is one of the most important non-evil generators of human evil, tragedy and suffering.” – Abraham Maslow

18. “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

19. “Self-actualizing people must be what they can be.” – Abraham Maslow

20. “False optimism sooner or later means disillusionment, anger and hopelessness.” – Abraham Maslow

Inspiring Abraham Maslow quotes about life

21. “One cannot choose wisely for a life unless he dares to listen to himself, his own self, at each moment of his life.” – Abraham Maslow

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22. “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

23. “We must understand love; we must be able to teach it, to create it, to predict it, or else the world is lost to hostility and to suspicion.” – Abraham Maslow

24. “No great deed, private or public, has ever been undertaken in a bliss of certainty.” – Abraham Maslow

25. “The test of a man is: does he bear apples? Does he bear fruit?” – Abraham Maslow

26. “People are not evil; they are schlemiels.” – Abraham Maslow

27. “Expression and communication in the peak experiences tend often to become poetic, mythical, and rhapsodic, as if this were the natural kind of language to express such states of being.” – Abraham Maslow

28. “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” – Abraham Maslow

29. “What one can be, one must be!” – Abraham Maslow

30. “The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.” – Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow quotes to elevate your perspective

31. “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

32. “The great lesson from the true mystics is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, and in one’s backyard.” – Abraham Maslow

33. “I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.” – Abraham Maslow

34. “Religion becomes a state of mind achievable in almost any activity of life, if this activity is raised to a suitable level of perfection.” – Abraham Maslow

35. “Creativity is a characteristic given to all human beings at birth.” – Abraham Maslow

36. You will either step forward into growth, or you will step back into safety. – Abraham Maslow
37. I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. – Abraham Maslow

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More Abraham Maslow quotes and sayings

38. “You are an authentic person when you choose between security and your mental development.” – Abraham Harold Maslow

39. “If swindling pays, then it will not stop. You cannot have a good society unless virtue pays.” – Abraham Harold Maslow

40. “Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.” – Abraham Maslow

41. “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

42. “Self-actualized people, live more in the real world of nature than in the man-made mass of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes that most people confuse with the world.” – Abraham Maslow

43. “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

44. “Seeing is better than being blind, even when seeing hurts.” – Abraham H. Maslow

45. “The most stable, and therefore, the most healthy self-esteem is based on deserved respect from others rather than on external fame or celebrity and unwarranted adulation.” – Abraham Maslow

Did you learn something from these Abraham Maslow quotes?

It’s not easy to reach a point of “self-actualization”. It’s a continued process – similar to self-improvement. Once you’ve accomplished your goals, there’s always more to do and to discover.

Don’t stop at one point! Life is an adventure – so go immerse yourself in it and see what you find out for yourself. Hopefully, you will keep these insightful Abraham Maslow quotes with you!

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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