I remember being told: “When there is agitation, look where there is no agitation.” So if you have agitation inside, then go and look at a tree. It’s not agitated. It’s doing what it needs to do. Go and watch the ants work when they’re gathering crumbs. Just look at something that’s working and let it ground you.
∆ Fiona Apple, interviewed for Pitchfork
“There is no such thing as a true story. This does not mean that all facts are fungible, nor does it mean that we don’t each have a right to our own stories. It just means that the events of our lives will appear differently to us at different times, and that our attraction, aversion, or indifference to objects, people, or events is always conditioned by our state of mind.” —Maggie Nelson, ON FREEDOM, page 118
Strive to balance your basic needs: A large number of studies have confirmed that humans across cultures have a need for autonomy, competence, relatedness, security, and self-esteem.
Set and make efficient progress toward self-concordant goals: It's important that you feel as though your self is constantly in steady forward motion. It's important that the goals that you set have high "self-concordance". People with high self-concordant goals have identified goals that are consistent with their identity, basic needs, personality, and talents.
Choose your goals and social roles wisely: Setting extrinsic goals (such as money, beauty and status) tend to make you less happy, whereas attaining intrinsic goals (such as intimacy, community, and personal growth) tend to lead to enhanced well-being (see here). It's also important to choose social roles that best fit your unique personality.
Strive toward personality integration: Integrated people also reported higher levels of self-esteem, openness to new experiences, vitality, satisfaction with life, self-actualization, positive moods, and fewer negative moods.
Work toward modifying problematic aspects of yourself or your world: Not all of our potentialities will help us make progress toward our self-concordant goals. Some aspects of our personality, like anxiety or disagreeableness, can downright get in the way of making progress toward becoming an optimal human. So the advice here is to not mindlessly accommodate your entire nature, but work on bringing out the character strengths and virtues that will best help you achieve your self-concordant goals.
Take responsibility for your goals and choices: After making a decision about which goal you wish to adopt, embrace the goal with all of your being, and consciously align your identity with the goal.
Listen to your "organismic valuing process" and be prepared to change your goals if it seems necessary: The path toward becoming a fully functioning person requires developing increasing trust in your own ability to know what is important to you, and what is essential for you to live a more fulfilling life. People tend to move toward intrinsic goals (e.g., emotional intimacy, personal growth, societal contribution) and/or away from extrinsic goals (e.g., material possessions, physical attractiveness, social popularity) over an extended period of time. Bottom line: trust yourself to abandon a goal if it is no longer appropriate for your growth.
Transcend your self: Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. Integrate yourself into the larger social systems in which you are embedded. Don't just search for things that are useful to you, but be useful to others.
“[Nietzsche] thinks a human life triumphant just insofar as it escapes from inherited descriptions of the contingencies of its existence and finds new descriptions.”
— Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony, and solidarity
To pause and abandon solutionism, step back from the project of progress, and dance into a different set of questions: What does the Anthropocene teach us as a destabilizing agent that resists our taming? How can we show up in our movements of justice if “the ways we respond to crisis is part of the crisis”? What happens when we unfurl into a space of slowness and relinquish human mastery to a wider cosmic net of relations?