Monday, May 24, 2010

Happiness Project: Transcendence Program

The term "transcendence" is not a term that I just came up with. Lots of psychologists have argued that the basic psychological needs, which I have mentioned before should be modified to include a further set of needs which they called self transcendence needs. On the other hands, most of the spiritual trends, whether ancient or recent, preach self transcendence either explicitly of implicitly. What I am trying to do through talking about what I call "the transcendence program" is to provide a clear comprehensive practical account of how self transcendence can be achieved.

The self transcendence program is a reminder of a set of activities which you must get engaged in on regular basis to achieve happiness. As I have argued in the previous post, happiness can't be achieved through the Ego program alone, and the transcendence program is far more important than the Ego program. Any way, the common feature among all those activities, belonging to the transcendence program, is that all of them revolve around a different axis other than yourself. In other words, they are not primarily done to benefit your Ego. In more precise terms, they are not done to add to your self esteem or self actualization needs. Psychologists have attempted to define those activities by appeal to the society again. They argued that those self transcendence activities involve mainly those activities which are done to serve the others, like charity work, taking care of children or pets, getting committed to a bigger cause and so on. Even though, it is true that all of those activities might belong to the transcendence program, but those examples are not conclusive and they don't help us getting in contact with the main essence of the transcendence program. I think that seeking spirituality is one other form of activities which are primarily done to achieve self transcendence. However, in addition to arguing for helping others, spiritual trends would invite you to perform other self transcendence activities like better evaluation of life and nature. I think the human need to transcend his Ego must be explained in a way that will not only consider tendencies to help others but in addition it should explain those spiritual tendencies of humans as well.

As I have argued before, the main feature shared by all self transcendence activities is that they are not primarily done to add to your self esteem or self actualization. All those activities are done because they allow you to enjoy this particular moment you are involved in. they are not done as a step of a bigger plan to achieve something related to your self actualization needs. In modern life, most of our basic psychological needs are satisfied by the social constructions we live in. In other words, we are born in societies which have drawn regular well established routes which will provide you with your basic biological needs, security and attachment to others. However, what we get totally occupied with for the rest of our life is to satisfy the two remaining psychological needs of self esteem and self actualization. I can't emphasize enough the importance of pairing those activities you do to achieve self esteem and self actualization with activities to achieve self transcendence. Happiness can never be achieved through focusing on one set of activities rather than the others.

There is a further important feature belonging to the self transcendence program. While the Ego program is based on reasonable factual thinking, the transcendence program might and should be, in most of the times, based on a different form of thinking. This form of think should still be systematic, reasonable, and positive, just like the form of thinking involved in planning for the Ego program. However this alternative form of thinking doesn't have to be factual. It can and should, as I have argued before, utilize the most amazing mental ability humans have which is imagination. You should depend on the use of systematic reasonable positive imaginative thinking when it comes to self transcendence activities.

There is another important feature about the self transcendence program which is that those activities are primarily done to allow you to experience life from a different prospective. All of those activities should allow you to get free from the pressure created by your self esteem and self actualization needs and get to enjoy the moment.

Self transcendence activates can be broadly categorized into the following; those activities done to have a deeper appreciation of life, activities which would help you embrace life together with its unsolvable problems, activities done to help you have better appreciation of people and the joy they can bring, new activities which are simply fun to do, and finally activities which are the most rewarding to your self. Each of those categories should be mentioned in details. However, I will delay this till later.

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