personal development and maslow pyramid of needs

The pyramid of human needs and the path to self-actualization

The pyramid of human needs and the path to self-actualization25601789Manolis Stratakis

The pyramid of needs

Abraham Maslow is one of the most renowned psychologists. He devoted an important part of his career searching for the meaning of life. After many years of research, he managed to deliver a consistent map of human needs. First in a paper titled “A theory about human motivation” and later in his book titled “Motivation and personality”. His works led to the famous Pyramid of Maslow.

All human needs are categorized in a five-level hierarchy:

  1. Physiological
  2. Security
  3. Social
  4. Self-esteem and
  5. Self-actualization

The first two are the basic needs. The next two are the emotional needs. The fifth is the need for self-fulfillment. They dictate the rules of all human behavior.

Maslow pyramid of needs 1

Diagram 1: Maslow’s pyramid: Hierarchy of Human Needs

Material and spiritual needs

The general concept behind the pyramid is that lower stages host mainly our material needs. In the higher ones, we find the spiritual needs. As it happens in a ladder or a pyramid, it is difficult (although not impossible) to climb to the higher steps without first pass through the lower ones. Therefore, the physiological needs have priority over the spiritual, without this being absolutely necessary.

Let’s see how Maslow himself describes it:

“It is true that man can live with bread alone – when there is no bread. But what happens with human needs when there’s plenty of bread? At once, new higher needs emerge and take the place of the physiological. And when these have been satisfied, new even higher ones emerge, and so on”

To a large extent, success in life depends on whether we manage to climb to the top of the pyramid and reach self-actualization. We could think of it as a video game, where we must complete one challenge in order to go to the next. But it doesn’t work exactly like this. Our life allows us to pass to the next step, even if we haven’t yet completed fully the ones before.

The five steps of Maslow’s pyramid

So all our needs can be split in five categories. Let’s look at them in detail starting from bottom to the top.

BASIC NEEDS (Reptilian brain)

Our reptilian brain wants to feel that we have whatever we need to survive.

First level: Physiological needs

This stage contains all the absolutely necessary needs for survival. These include oxygen, water, food and shelter. Anything our physical body demands in order to continue living and reproducing.

Second level: Safety needs

As soon as our physiological needs are satisfied, we start looking for a safer environment. To this end, we seek a job and a stable income. We try to obtain more and more resources. Protect our property. Maybe save or invest for the future.

Maslow pyramid of needs 2

Diagram 2: Maslow’s pyramid: Basic, Emotional and Self-fulfilment Needs

EMOTIONAL NEEDS (Limbic system)

As soon as our survival needs are covered, we will then wish to satisfy our emotional needs. That will keep our emotional brain more happy.

Third level: Social needs

Humans are the principal social animals. Our purpose is to find a good place in the society. So, we connect with others in relationships of friendship or cooperation. We take part in groups, develop an identity and empower all of our social skills. We also learn to be useful. Perhaps, we start a family. Create a pleasant, familiar environment around us. That provides us with love, interest and a sense of belonging. We seek to participate in something bigger than ourselves.

Fourth level: Esteem needs

Given our social nature, we all wish to have good fame, esteem, respect and recognition by others. On top of that, we want to feel confidence, freedom and independence. These needs are also called egoistic needs as they are driven by our ego.


Fifth level: Self-fulfillment needs

This is the higher step in the ladder of human needs. It is our wish to find a place in life. Give meaning in whatever we do. Find a higher purpose. Leave our footprint in our trip through life. However, in order to succeed in all these, we will first need to upgrade our self into its next, advanced edition. We need to make quality changes in our character. Acquire new skills. Exploit our talents. Make dreams and chase them in every way possible. In short, we need to become better.

Growth needs versus Deficiency needs

Needs in the first four steps are referred to as deficiency needs. This means that those needs stem from our wish to get rid of our weaknesses or acquire things we lack. As we acquire more and more adequacy, our motivation decreases.

Maslow pyramid of needs 3

Diagram 3: Maslow’s pyramid: Growth and Deficiency needs

The top need of self-actualization is referred to as a growth need.

It is nothing else than our desire for self-development. As this desire is satisfied, instead of decreasing our motivation, the opposite happens. It is amplified. As we become better, our self-confidence increases. So, we wish to become even better.

Obstacles on our road to self-actualization

As Maslow stated:

“Whatever a man can be, he must be”

He called this esoteric human need, self-actualization.

For an artist, it might be an extraordinary piece of work. For an athlete, it might be an important new record. As for a visionary, it can be a big dream coming into reality.

For each one of us, it can be the satisfaction of our need to feel happy.

It is obvious, that only a few of us can reach the top of the pyramid. Maslow estimated that only 2% of people can reach the state of self-actualization. The main reason people make it to the top, is their ability to focus. They also manage to overcome or ignore most of the obstacles which stop all the others.

Such obstacles can be:

  • Lack of quality education
  • Fixed mindset (the wrong perception that people do not change)
  • Low motivation (inability to self-motivate)
  • Lack of a suitable example (parent, teacher, friend, mentor)
  • Too much attention to the non-important
  • Inability to see the big picture

In the list above, we could add life’s adversities like financial, health or other. These can get us stuck for years in the lower steps of the pyramid. However, life is full with examples of people who proved the opposite. They reached self-fulfillment, despite the amazingly difficult circumstances they met. Adversities not only stopped them, but on the contrary they helped them take-off.

Characteristics and behavior of people who reach self-actualization

  • They have high moral standards. To a great extent, they accept their self and life as it is
  • Usually they tend to focus less on their selves and more outside of themselves. Almost always they have innovative thinking and a somewhat unusual sense of humor.
  • They follow a responsible and objective life approach, with full responsibility for their actions and decisions. In addition, they are honest and never fake.
  • Exceptionally creative: always enjoying to try new things, instead of choosing the known, easy paths. They are reconciled with uncertainty.
  • They are authentic and develop their own views, instead of adopting the dominant standpoint of tradition, authority or majority.
  • Appreciate deeply the small pleasures of life. They live as if they were small children with supreme concentration, amusement and devotion.
  • They value their privacy and personal time. Often, they choose loneliness so they can think and create without any interference.
  • Finally, they have a clear sense of what is important to them and what isn’t. Therefore, they spend more of their time with what’s important and much less with all the rest.

Welcoming discomfort

So there seems to be another, safer way to self-actualization. This is nothing else than make friends with difficulties. Learn to welcome instead of avoid them. The hard way seems to go there much more efficiently than the easy one.

Therefore, perhaps self-actualization is the dominance of our creative brain over its two partners, the reptilian and emotional. It takes many years of fermentation and negotiations among the three of them, in order to get along and reach a smooth state of balance and harmony.


Read also the article: Step out of your comfort zone to pursue personal growth and development


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personal development and Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Improve your life using the Pareto rule!

Improve your life using the Pareto rule!25601389Manolis Stratakis

The Pareto Principle (80-20 rule)

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist realized that 80% of his country’s wealth was held by 20% of the Italian population. It didn’t take long for him to understand that this was true, not only for Italy but also for the rest of the world. On top of that, it was not only true regarding the distribution of wealth but it was valid in a much wider context. All that, led to the Pareto principle.

Let’s see this principle under the prism of personal development. We can say that 20% of our effort is responsible for about 80% of the desired outcome. The rest 80%, accounts only for the 20% of the outcome. The more we apply this principle in our everyday life, the more we realize that it is an invaluable tool for clarity and self-awareness. After all, it helps us distinguish between the vital few and the trivial many. In other words, between the few important and the many unimportant.

personal development and Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Some examples of the Pareto Principle

  • 20% of our clients bring 80% of our revenues
  • 20% of advertisement accounts for 80% of sales
  • We wear 20% of our clothes in the 80% of the time
  • From 20% of our friends we get 80% of support and satisfaction
  • In 20% of our home we spend 80% of our time
  • 20% of emails contain 80% of the important information
  • 20% of a meal contributes to the 80% of calories we take
  • Also the 20% of a dinner gives us the 80% of enjoyment (those eating their dinner indifferently, while eagerly waiting for the desert to arrive, are probably resonating with this example)
  • A 20% of illnesses is responsible for the 80% of deaths in the world
  • 20% of our experiences provides the 80% of our satisfaction
  • The 20% of a book contains 80% of most important knowledge and also 20% of the books we have read, contribute to 80% of our present education
  • 20% of the code running on a computer takes 80% of the CPU time

Of course, the ratio 20-80 is only approximate, it could be 30-70, 10-90 or anything similar. However the principle is valid in many different occasions. You can surely come up with your own examples from your personal experience.

What matters most, is the exact composition of the 20% and 80%. In other words, what falls under the 20% and what falls under the 80%.


  • Which part is the 20% of your Garde robe that you use 80% of the time?
  • From which 20% of your activities 20% you receive the 80% of your satisfaction?
  • In what do you spend 80% of your money which only contributes a 20% to your happiness?
  • Which 20% of your work brings the 80% of your results?
  • What 80% of the time you spend on the phone is not important?
  • Which 80% of your luggage contents is really necessary?

Pareto’s principle can be applied again and again in an iterative manner. After we have decluttered our wardrobe by throwing away or giving out the 1/5th of our clothes which we rarely use, we can then apply the same principle again achieving an even finer result. The same can happen with our clients, our diet, our appointments and generally the management of all our critical resources.

The Pareto Principle in time management

Applying Pareto’s principle in everyday life can free up a lot of time, which was – until recently – spent in not important activities. For each activity filling up your day, ask yourself how useful it is. Then, use Pareto analysis in order to identify whether they belong in the important 20% or in the unimportant 80%.

Do more by doing less!

Finally, think how much time and energy you would free up after you stopped worrying about the last 20% (the least important), i.e. all those activities which return almost zero results. By doing less you end up doing much more! The trick is knowing which part to get rid of.


See also our article “Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

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personal development and time management

Essential time management with the Eisenhower Matrix

Essential time management with the Eisenhower Matrix25601784Manolis Stratakis

Is the time in our day enough?

Time is one of the most democratic things on the planet. Not intelligence. Neither money. Not even health or beauty. Not happiness. Time! Everybody has 24 hours. If you think about it, time is our most important asset. We start off as babies, having all the time of the world and as we grow up we come to a point when every single minute of our day is occupied with something. Then we complain we don’t have time. Wrong! We still have 24 hours. But our day is now filled with stuff. Now, it’s time for.. time management!

The Matrix as a time management tool

“When you don’t have time, make time”. It may sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps it is a perfect advice. The Eisenhower Matrix is the tool we need to make time.

US General and President Eisenhower once said:

I have two kinds of problems: Urgent and Important.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important

Eisenhower Matrix

A common pattern in businesses but also in our personal life is that we often move insanely from one urgent matter to the next, having practically no time to attend to the important issues. Like a never-ending queue of urgent things which, no matter how many we complete, new ones continuously appear. We are at a constant war with a modern Lernaean Hydra. We cut one head and two new heads spring out of nowhere.

Let’s dive deep in time management

If we analyze the four areas of the Eisenhower matrix, it will immediately become clear how it will help us in our time management:

Quadrant 1: (Urgent and Important): Do First!

This is the most critical area, it contains tasks that are both urgent and important. These are “do first” tasks because they are critical for our life or career. Typical Q1 activities include important problems, deadlines and crises.

Quadrant 2: (Important, but Not Urgent): Schedule!

Here we place the tasks that are important, but not urgent. This is where we need to invest most of our time. These are usually our personal and professional long-term goals and activities relevant to the significant areas of our life like education, career, family, recreation or personal growth. Put these tasks in suspension until you find enough time to work on them carefully. Beware, these tasks may not be urgent, but if left neglected, sooner or later they become urgent.

Quadrant 3 (Not Important, but Urgent): Delegate!

If a task deserves to be in this quadrant, then you don’t deserve to perform it. It is most likely a distraction and you better pass it to someone else or postpone it. Many tasks appear to be urgent when actually they are not. Most messages and telephone calls fall into this category. If you answer every call or text you receive immediately, then you will not be able to do anything that requires undistracted attention. The same is true with business meetings. You don’t have to participate in every meeting you are invited, you can choose if you need to be present or not. A common source of Q3 activities is other people. Saying “no” politely or encouraging them to solve the problem themselves usually does the trick.

Quadrant 4: (Not Important, Not Urgent): Eliminate or Keep to a minimum!

These tasks that are neither important nor urgent are simply time wasters and they should be eliminated, or cut down to a minimum. If you drastically reduce the amount of time spent in quadrant 4 tasks, you will free up lots of precious time for your quadrant 1 or 2 tasks. Mindlessly watching television, playing games or surfing the web are only some of the typical ways for wasting time. This does not mean of course that watching a good movie or resting is a waste of time. We need to be very careful when distinguishing what is and what isn’t important for us.

Procrastination and time management

Sometimes, procrastination kicks in when we are not very clear about what is important or urgent. It causes confusion and leaves us standing still while trying to decide what to bring on the foreground next.

When you first try this tool, you may have some difficulty labeling your tasks. It may be frustrating and you may feel you are wasting your time. You are not wasting time, you are investing some of your precious time learning a great skill that will empower you with precious focus and self-awareness. It will save you way more time for the rest of your life.


Increase your awareness by reading our article: Awareness Sharpening Games


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personal development and johari window

A strong realization towards self knowledge with Johari Window

A strong realization towards self knowledge with Johari Window25601957Manolis Stratakis

The Johari Window

The Johari Window is a great self awareness tool. It is named after the first names of the two psychologists who have invented it, Joseph Lufft and Ηarry Ingam.

This tool can help us discover important aspects of ourselves with emphasis in critical skills such as behavior, empathy, team cooperation and personal development.

Johari Window - Self-Knowledge and Self-Awareness

The four selves in Johari

This tool divides our Self in four areas:

  • Open (known to us, known to others)
  • Hidden (known to us, unknown to others)
  • Blind (unknown to us, known to others)
  • Unknown (unknown to us, unknown to others)

Let’s now explore each of them in more detail:

📖 Open Self

This is the public part of our self, the part which is visible both to us and the others. It comprises everything that we freely disclose and share, like some of our experiences, knowledge, opinion, emotions, character traits, wishes and problems.

People with a large open self possess a high degree of self-awareness, clarity, self confidence and authenticity. They feel comfortable with themselves. They have a good knowledge of both their strong character traits and their drawbacks. As a result, they set their own path to life. They possess a high level of confidence. They are comfortable taking decisions and they rarely feel the need of approval from others.

🔒 Hidden Self

This is the part of our self which is visible to us, but invisible to the others. In this area we keep our very personal information, all those things we are not willing to share with others, since they might be our weak points, dysfunctions, fears, emotions, motives, desires, mistakes, secrets or guilt.

Nevertheless, this area may also contain some of our positive traits which we still do not disclose out of modesty or shyness. The degree of trust we have in other persons, guides us to decide what amount of information we share with them. Consequently, people with an oversized hidden self tend to be more introvert and secretive and may often seem distant or lost.

🔮 Blind Self

It is that part of our personality that is invisible to us but visible to the others. It contains information such as non-verbal communication, our peculiarities and all those characteristics which others see in us, or possibly translate different than us. Through well-intentioned criticism we will become aware of certain things, therefore moving them from the blind to the open or hidden area. People with a large blind area can be extremely naive and this creates trouble in their professional or social relations.

🔬 Unknown Self

This is the part of our self that neither we, nor the others can see. It contains all those things which are out of our awareness. That is, depressed feelings and experiences which have been stored deeply in our subconscious. They can reside there forever and remain unknown, or we may discover them at some moment later. Subsequently, they will move to another area (hidden, blind or even open).

Those with disproportionately large unknown self are persons for whom self knowledge is an unknown word. They have never invest in their self improvement. They usually have troubled relationships with others but also with themselves. Likewise, they generally have a vague picture of the world they live in.

The rest of the Johari iceberg

While the three first areas are only the tip of the iceberg, the unknown self is the rest of the iceberg. It is the part which contains the biggest chunk of information about who we are. Most people never dare to dive in the cold blurry waters of their mind. Even when they are convinced that there is a treasure hidden in there. Those who take the chance, after the first shock, they realize that self-awareness is an art. The more you practice, the better you become, and the better you are at it, the greater the benefits you enjoy.

Self-observation, introspection and meditation

These techniques can help us get acquainted with an important part of our unknown self, with amazing long term results. In addition, Psychoanalysis and Coaching will also open the door for us and guide us hand by hand in the path of self knowledge.


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Response style in communication

What is your Response Style?

What is your Response Style?25601784Manolis Stratakis

Response Style in Communication

Our response style plays an important role in our communication with people. Builds or destroys our relations in work, family or friendships. Finding our own, gives us the necessary awareness in order to change it, if we need to. It also helps us understand other people responses to us.

There are 4 different response styles:

  • Active Constructive
  • Passive Constructive
  • Active Destructive
  • Passive Destructive

Response style in communication

Response Style Example:

Let’s take for example a response at the good news of someone else. In this particular case it is our spouse. Of course, it could be our partner, friend, kid or colleague.

The husband/wife returns home at the afternoon:

  • Honey! I got the promotion!!

Spouse: (Select one of the following to find your current response style!)

  • Excitement
  • Eye contact
  • Authentic smile
  • Joy

Welldonebaby! Amazing news, I knew you will do it! How do you feel now? (looks into her/his eyes)

Wait for me to open a nice bottle of wine to celebrate this!

  • Low energy
  • Delayed response
  • Quiet

Ah ok… [pause of several seconds] That’s very good for you.

(Gazing at his/her shoes)

  • Quashing the event
  • Dismissive
  • Demeaning

Well, we have so many problems and you only care about yourself…

  • Avoiding
  • Ignoring
  • Turns focus inwards

And now we are going to see you even less? Are you sure you can manage with more obligations?


Introspection questions

Spend some time to think the following questions:
  1. Which of the four styles looks more attractive to you?
  2. How would you feel when facing someone with an Active/Destructive response style?
  3. Which style do you prefer to see from your spouse? Your boss? Your colleague?
  4. What is your own typical style?
  5. Do you have the same style at work, home or with your friends?
  6. In what ways you could perhaps improve it?


Also check out the article: How emotionally intelligent are you?

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Flow - Task difficulty vs Skill level

How often do you experience Flow?

How often do you experience Flow?23512126Manolis Stratakis

The state of Flow

We have all been involved in activities where we have intense concentration and total commitment. During these activities we feel that we are very competent. We have complete control of the situation. Our skills operate to the fullest. The sense of time, as well as any negative emotions disappear. We are overwhelmed by a wonderful sense of transcendence. Whenever we have experience this situation, we are in a state of flow.

The phenomenon of flow, was first referenced by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1990. He describes it as follows:

“the mental state of flow is being completely absorbed in an activity, for the activity itself and only. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought inevitably follows the preceding, as if playing Jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost”.

Our Growth, Stagnation and Flow zones

Stagnation zone

We all have to deal with various daily activities. Some of them are simple and easy. We have repeated them over many times, so they have become automatic. They do not pose any difficulty for us, so they often result in a loss of interest. Dealing with them may be comfortable, but we will soon find them boring. When we stay for long in our comfort zone, it will sooner or later transform into a stagnation zone.

Flow - Task difficulty vs Skill level

Growth zone

There are some other tasks which are new to us, therefore unknown, or they may be familiar but tough. These tasks take us out of our comfort zone. Usually, they can cause discomfort, anxiety or fear. However, these are the ones that help us develop and grow. That’s where our growth zone is.

Flow zone

Finally, there are those tasks whose difficulty is almost matching our level of skill. When we are in this kind of activities, we are in heaven. We engage completely. Time disappears. We feel we are in absolute control. We can continue those activities for hours, without feeling hungry or thirsty.

Flow, therefore, is the mental state we experience, when we perform an activity, in which we are completely absorbed with a sense of active concentration and complete immersion, while enjoying the whole process.

Note that, it is not simply the balance between task difficulty and skill level which causes flow, but the balance in higher levels of difficulty and skill. In lower levels even when balance exists, we may be in a state of apathy or lack of interest.

Flow: the optimal experience

The Optimal experienceas Csikszentmihalyi named this mental state – usually occurs when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits, in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

“Optimal experience, when flow is realized, is thus something we make happen”.

Flow’s eight mental states

The flow model recognizes eight emotional mental states:

  1. Apathy – there is no interest, we are apathetic
  2. Boredom – we are bored and maybe run-down
  3. Relaxation – we have a feeling of calmness, but also lack of excitement
  4. Worry – if our focus is on worry, our problems grow and become harder
  5. Control – we have a feeling of dominance. Our activity is hard, but we are in command of the situation
  6. Anxiety – if we are anxious, we may freeze or shut down
  7. Arousal – in this state we approach our surroundings more attentively
  8. Flow – we focus completely on the task or activity, leading to the most successful results

Flow - Challenge vs Support

Generally, people who masterwork life, art, sports or a hobby, all have flow experiences. From the outside, it may seem like they are doing the task with great ease. However, if you look at it from within, they have completely devoted themselves to what they are doing in order to achieve this level of mastery.

The Order of Mind

The best state of our inner experience happens when there is order in our minds. For this to happen, we must have realistic goals and our skill level has to match the challenge. The pursuit of a goal brings order to a person’s consciousness, as they have to concentrate on the task at hand and forget about everything else. The times when we struggle to overcome various challenges are the happiest of our life. Thus, the persons investing in consciously chosen goals can only grow into higher beings.

Characteristics of Flow

We all had flow experiences, therefore it is not difficult to recognize some of their characteristics:

  1. We have clear, specific, demanding but feasible goals
  2. Our concentration is in the present moment and in the actual activity, with no room in mind for any other information
  3. The activity is intrinsically rewarding
  4. There is a sense of tranquility
  5. Usually time passes much faster than expected
  6. We have immediate feedback on the progress
  7. We feel a balance between the task difficulty and our skill level. There is a feeling of assertiveness and self-confidence
  8. There is a sense of control over the activity, with no worries about failure
  9. We lose awareness of our physical needs

Theoretically, athletes and artists are more likely to experience flow. However, flow can be hiding in simple everyday activities, like housekeeping or reading a good book.

Electronic games are probably the most characteristic example, as they lead to flow by design. This is the main reason they cause strong addiction to teenagers and adults.

The following skills can help us achieve a state of flow:

  • curiosity
  • interest in life
  • persistence
  • low ego


Read also the article: Step out of your comfort zone to pursue personal growth and development

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How aligned is your life with your Personal Core Values?

How aligned is your life with your Personal Core Values?150150Manolis Stratakis

What is the difference between our principles and our values?

Our personal values are hidden deep in our mind. Spending some time to discover them, allows us to see which aspects of our life are aligned with them and which are in some kind of conflict!


Our principles are pushed to us by others, from the outside world. They are taught to us. They help us conform to the norms of society. Principles are the musts of our life.


Values ​​come from within us. They are all those things we consider important. Values are the wants of our life. They highlight what we stand for. They ​​guide us in life, especially in difficult times. So, our values largely determine our behaviors, decisions, and actions.

When our plain logic does not seem enough to help us make critical decisions, we mobilize our “heart”. The heart always takes decisions that are based on our values. In other words, when our decisions or activities are in line with our values, an internal motivation is created. Everything seems to roll smoothly. We feel joy and pleasure. We are fulfilled.

On the other hand, when we are forced to deal with something that questions values, we get a vague feeling that something is wrong. We might have a sense of internal tension, anxiety or guilt. As a result, procrastination may fire in as well as other unwanted behaviors.

Most common personal values

Our values ​​- like the instruments of an airplane – guide us through the storms. They define what is important to us and what we give priority to. They determine the decisions we make. Each of us has a different mix of values ​​that makes us special. Life flows smoothly when we live according to our values. But when, for any reason, we are forced to live in a way that is against them, then we get that elusive feeling that something is wrong. We can have a bad mood and low energy.

The moment we begin to think, speak and behave in a way which is aligned with our highest ideals and most important values, our self-image improves, our self-esteem rises and for the first time we feel real freedom. We feel much happier, we breathe, walk and move with a radically different confidence.

The list below shows some of the most important human values. First, think thoroughly and then note which ones resonate with you. Of course, you can always add one you might not see in the list.

Recognition by others
Avoid pressure or conflict
Self confidence
Action and variety
Ability to express
Free time
Development and growth
Spiritual stimuli
Offer to others
Risk taking
Continuous learning

Exercise: Find your own personal values

Don’t wait any longer to make the most valuable investment in yourself. Find those values that are at the core of your existence. Those that motivate you and make you stand out. Once you get to know them, you’ve already taken a big step in your personal development. And that’s only the beginning!

Think and write down your ten most important personal values (try to list them in an order of importance to you):



Read also the article: An introduction to the wheel of emotions


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personal development and life stages

The four stages of life: Which are you living in now?

The four stages of life: Which are you living in now?887712Manolis Stratakis

The Four Stages of Life

Carl Jung identified four distinct life stages in all people’s lives. These stages have nothing to do with what we do for living, how old we are, what we have achieved or how much money we make. Also, these stages are not necessarily linear. We do not have to complete one of them in order to move to the next. We can step in or out of different stages, at different phases of our life.

life stages by Carl Gustav Jung

🏀 The Athlete Stage: The period of Mimicry

At this stage, we are primarily concerned with our body and how we look to others.

We can look at our mirror image for hours observing our external appearance.

By trying things out we develop our first insecurities. Slowly, we begin to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. We come into contact with our emotions and try to understand how they affect us. There is a constant need for acceptance and validation, and a complete absence of personal values ​​and independent thinking. Mainly, we imitate others (parents, teachers, friends), having very little room for autonomy.

So, the purpose of this stage is to teach us how the world works.

🏹 The Warrior Stage: The phase of Self-discovery

In this stage, we begin to identify where we differ from others and find our first place in society. We understand that we are unique. So, we begin to make our own decisions and try our limits. We cautiously move out of our safety zone and experiment with new places, people and things. Progressively, we find out what works for us and what doesn’t, we keep the first and drop the second. This is how we move forward and evolve.

Here, we also strive to be better than others. We want to conquer the world. To this end, we like to accumulate things, we always want to have more. We are going through a phase of comparison and competition.

At this stage, it is very important to learn our limits and limitations, to understand at what we are good and what we can do well. Life gives us endless choices, and since we cannot have them all, it is wise to stick to the ones that suit us best.

📜 The Stage of Declaration: The age of Commitment

Here we consolidate all the knowledge and experience we have gained in the two previous stages. We now know what works for us and what doesn’t, we understand where we excel and where we suck. Which of our activities lead us somewhere and which take us nowhere. We know what inspires us and what holds us back. Which of our friends and acquaintances fill us with energy and which leave us empty.

At the same time, we realize that despite what we have achieved or acquired, we do not feel fulfilled or happy. We are looking for ways to make a difference in the world. As a result, we want to make a clear statement of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. We feel a strong need to offer to others.

What we have hunted so far (money, power or material goods) will continue to appear in our lives, but are no longer as valuable to us as before. We now know that there is more to life than these. So, we receive them, we accept them and we are grateful for them, but we are ready to leave them anytime.

🔥 The Stage of the Spirit: The Time of Heritage

Now, we have realized what is meaningful and what is important to us. We have worked through all of our life, we had various accomplishments and we earned all we have today. From now on, we are not interested in achieving more, since our age and energy levels do not allow it, but in ensuring that what we have gained will continue to exist and be valued after we have left.

At this stage, we realize that in none of the preceding stages we got to know our true selves. So, we understand that we are much more than our possessions, friends, family and our entire environment.

In addition, we understand that we are not going to linger on this planet for long more. We come closer to spiritual and “divine” pursuits. Consequently, we become the observers of our lives. And we are interested in the legacy we will leave.

🏆 Exercise on life stages

Now, take some time to think about the following questions:

  1. Which of the above life stages have you experienced?
  2. In which life stage do you mainly live today?

(Based on the work of Carl Jung on life stages)


See also our article: Awareness sharpening games


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How high is your Emotional Intelligence?

How high is your Emotional Intelligence?15871116Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence

We once thought that IQ was the magic bullet for success in life. However, this is no longer considered to be true. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) seems to be the most important factor determining how successful someone will become.

EQ and IQ

According to the work of Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence contributes an 80% to success in life. On the other hand, IQ provides the rest 20%. That is, EQ is 5 or 6 times more important than IQ. None of them is considered fixed and permanent. But Emotional Intelligence has the greater margins for growth. In other words, EQ can be trained. Let’s check the levels of our own EQ and see how we can improve it!

Emotional Intelligence - Abstract painting - Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence Exercise: Check your EQ

Below, there is a list of qualities, which are common in people with high EQ. Check which of those you possess and mark them from 1-10.

  1. [ ] ​Self control and self discipline
  2. [ ] Impulse control
  3. [ ] Openness, adaptation and embracing change
  4. [ ] Ability to perform under conditions of pressure
  5. [ ] Good understanding of own emotions
  6. [ ] Good understanding of the emotions of others
  7. [ ] Awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  8. [ ] Optimism
  9. [ ] Self confidence
  10. [ ] Good communication skills
  11. [ ] Acceptance of criticism by other people
  12. [ ] Disagree without causing tension
  13. [ ] Offer constructive criticism
  14. [ ] Initiative taking
  15. [ ] Cultivate trust in relationships
  16. [ ] Self motivation in order to reach goals
  17. [ ] Ability to lead and influence
  18. [ ] Resist prejudice
  19. [ ] Decisiveness
  20. [ ] Persuasion
  21. [ ] Patience
  22. [ ] Persistence
  23. [ ] Curiosity
  24. [ ] Ability to inspire others
  25. [ ] Cooperate without competing
  26. [ ] Teamwork
  27. [ ] Maintain control in crisis situations
  28. [ ] Control impatience
  29. [ ] Ability to focus
  30. [ ] Acceptance of defeat and failure
  31. [ ] Listen before talking
  32. [ ] Acceptance of our weaknesses
  33. [ ] Personal and work ethics
  34. [ ] Ability to neutralize toxic people
  35. [ ] Give without expecting
  36. [ ] Know when and feeling comfortable saying no
  37. [ ] Ability to slow down, disconnect and relax
  38. [ ] Quick recovery after a mistake or failure
  39. [ ] Robust emotional vocabulary
  40. [ ] Resist perfectionism

I have vs I want

Next, identify which skills you already have and which ones you want. Make a note of those that you score high and those you score low. Then, write them down in two separate columns, as shown in the following table:

I have enough

I want to improve

Lock the target

Finally, let’s lock the target. Make a note of those which seem particularly appealing to you. That is, the ones you would like to see in your new version. You will also need to be clear about why you want to have them. In addition, think about the benefit of having each of them. If you know people who already have these qualities, take them as role models.

Let this new realization linger in your mind for the days to come. As long as you keep it in your radar, you will surely find the way to upgrade yourself.


Also, see the article: Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

🤿 For more information, visit the blog of Daniel Goleman, author of “EQ: Why it can matter more than IQ”.


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self-esteem and opinion self vs others

How our self esteem is influenced by our self opinion and the opinion of others

How our self esteem is influenced by our self opinion and the opinion of others30332147Manolis Stratakis

Our self image

The image we have about our self and our capabilities is going through a daily trial. Both by others and by ourselves. This image determines the level of our self esteem and self confidence.

The opinion of others about us

All the people we know, have formed an opinion about us. It may be rough and trivial or polished and solid, depending on how long or how well they know us. Of course, an opinion is always subjective. It can be more positive or negative depending on the person’s predisposition to us. It is also dynamic, which means it is subject to change.

Our own opinion about our self

It’s interesting however, that not only others have an opinion about us, but we also have an opinion about ourselves. Everyone has a self-opinion. Therefore, for the overall image of our self, both our own opinion and the opinion of others matter.

Self opinion vs Opinion of others

Consider the diagram below. It shows what other people think about us. Also, what we think about our self. The opinion of others about us on the vertical axis, which can be positive or negative and on the horizontal axis our self opinion, which can also be positive or negative:

self esteem and our opinion vs others' opinion

  1. When both us and the others have a positive image, then our confidence and our self-esteem are heading north.
  2. When the others have a positive opinion about us but our view is different, we feel insecure. As other people believe in us, they accordingly have high expectations. On the contrary, we do not believe in our self and so we are afraid we will let them down. Hence, we lose steam and start to experience emotions of sadness, stress and remorse.
  3. In the case when the others see us negatively, while we see our self positively, we can become aggressive. We try to prove what we worth (often in vain) and this causes us annoyance and anxiety.
  4. Finally, when both we and the others have a negative opinion about us, we become cynical. We may feel disappointment or even hopelessness. We usually adopt a style of contempt and arrogance.

Low self esteem

When we experience low confidence, we do not believe in our capabilities. This is the reason that we do not take advantage of them. So, we have poor results. But there is always a part in our mind which knows that we can do better. That part keeps criticizing us for the poor results. Our poor performance is taken as proof that we either do not have enough skills or we do not try enough. This, lowers further our self confidence.

The self esteem paradox

There is a paradox which comes with low self esteem. The more other people praise our capabilities the more our self esteem lowers (we move from cynical to insecure). This is the result of the greater contrast between our opinion and the opinion of others.

However, as we travel into the road of our personal development, the opinion we have about our self gains a positive sign. Eventually, we will enter the area of confidence and our self esteem will keep increasing slowly but steadily.


See also our article on: An introduction to our emotions


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