A Discourse on Human Potential


It has been a while since my last post; unfortunately sometimes life gets too busy to enjoy the time to manage my blog.  I am trying to work out a schedule for that, maybe I will find the perfect balance soon…we will see!  In the meantime, for those of you who follow me or like reading along when you have the time, today I thought I’d mention the great potential humanity has and ask if you would like to share what your thoughts about this subject are at the end. 

Today’s “Quote of the Day!” expresses the potential of humanity according to Leon Blum; although I am sure there are others who would agree with his point of view.  I need to specify before I continue that this excerpt is not talking about human potential in reference to the Human Potential Movement (aka HPM); although this movement is something an enquiring mind could want to read about in the near future or following this reading. 

In this blog entry I am talking about human potential in the sense of individual self-fulfillment in relation to life and humanity.  Even though the topic is not about HPM, there is a common point that I want to mention before I continue on.  Part of HPM’s idea is “the belief that through the development of “human potential”, humans can experience an exceptional quality of life filled with happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. As a corollary, those who begin to unleash this assumed potential often find themselves directing their actions within society towards assisting others to release their potential. Adherents believe that the net effect of individuals cultivating their potential will bring about positive social change at large.”  The HPM idea is a part of humanity’s real potential as individuals and if they reach this state of mind, through fulfillment of themselves and unity with their brothers and sisters, with the human race, the consequence will be positive for society and everyone at large. 

Life events and situations show us every day how each and every one of us, in one way or another, try to reach our top potential as humans.  We all try to make that difference, that change for the better for us (humanity) and our home (the world).  Our everyday efforts are seen through the people we know, the books we read, the good we see.  We don’t have to be scientists to know that each individual strives for growth, unity, completion and betterment.  Whether an individual does it through what is seen as negative or positive, they will each think what they are doing is for growth and good, trying to fulfill what they believe to be their potential.  If it is not their true potential, it is still a potential they have been taught to have.

Before reading on, please beware that there are negative opinions about the HPM, as well as on human potential.  The HPM promotes self-actualization, a topic that can sway from “good” to “bad” depending on who is talking about it and what a person’s opinion is in regards to being a true individual or a societal conforming and standardized individual.  As everything in life, it comes down to personal opinion and subjectivity.  Some things of a theory can prove true, while others less so; either way, like the yin and yang, both can hold some validity. 

For the interested reader: Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary By Farlex give a brief explanation of HPM, along with some references; as for one of the counterpart opinions on HPM you find a blog piece entitled “The Dangers of the Human Potential Movement!” on the UK APOLOGETICS website.  The negative opinions on human potential on the other hand fall among those ideas and theories that see and state humanity as a race that is evil and that must be controlled in order for people not to kill each other and dominate cruelly and fiercely over others.  Personally, my research and life experiences have shown me otherwise.  This being said, you should expect a blog piece that sees human potential as something positive and constructive.

It seems to me that our human potential reaches the extent of our open-mindedness, empathy and life views.  This conclusion was brought about by the comparison of actions and behavior of individuals I have encountered in social and professional spheres, as well as through the academic institutions and surroundings experienced.  The second reason for my conclusion is due to the reading I have done of various psychologists,social-psychologists, and psychiatrists such as Carl R. Rogers, Erich Fromm, and even M. Scott Peck, not to mention the philosophers, sociologists and other humanity and social science literature I have come across.  I noticed a recurrent theme throughout my reading so far: humans want to obtain what I define and understand as self-completion (in the sense of individual self-fulfillment, self-realization; not in any way related to the symbolic self-completion theory).  Self-completion can be seen as internal growth, discovery, and expression.  All of these characteristics and more are what therapy sessions, friends, and family, as well as life help us discover throughout our lifetime.  Unfortunately there are also constraints to that growth, which consequently bring about oppression, suppression and a sense, as well as a state, of incompleteness that can then divulge into multiple negative behaviors on behalf of the individual.  It would take a book to elaborate on where this particular part of thought could go (which I am actually writing) or I could continue discussing it in another post at a later date, but at this point I would like you to simply know why in my opinion human potential involves open-mindedness, empathy and life views. 

In order for individuals to promote growth and self-completion one has to be open-minded, one has to be able and empathize with others, and one’s life views need to be so that they promote and accept change, difficulties, and differences as ok and innocuous; no judgment of right and wrong, no condemnation for those who are not like you.  Open-mindedness can be seen as how willing we are to question our beliefs, as well as test them to ensure they are truly what we believe or maybe that they are what society and our culture have taught us.  Open-minded is also related to being flexible and aware that everything we see and think is through our eyes and therefore subjective. 

One’s level of open-mindedness affects how tolerant an individual is towards others and their different ways, as well as the level of empathy one holds towards a person and their differences.  If you can empathize with someone, it means you can actually understand how they think, feel and live.  You also understand why they are who they are.  This doesn’t imply that you justify the person’s actions, just that you understand them. 

Once an individual holds these two characteristics their life views are the last piece to influence their level of human potential.  When a person can accept events in life as hard or easy, ugly or pretty, but not the end of the world; at that point one faces life with a reactive spin.  This helps life to be somewhat lighter to handle and confront.  It doesn’t mean there won’t be hard days; just that it is easier to overcome the rough patches.    

The three characteristics mentioned above vary in consistency and level and depending on where each one of us stands with them is also how we can measure where we stand in our human potential

I realize this topic could be expanded on even further, but for now I will stop here and look forward to reader feedback.  Thanks for reading and for your possible constructive criticism.



3 comments on “A Discourse on Human Potential”

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