Abraham Maslow explained human motivation through a hierarchy of needs: At a basic level, we all need food, water, warmth, and rest before we can move on to more complex needs, such as safety, love, and self-esteem. It is only when those needs are met that we can begin striving towards self-actualization and our full potential.

Scott Barry Kaufman, a humanistic psychologist who has taught courses in intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania, brings Maslow’s work into the 21st century, adding his own research on how self-actualization affects our health, growth, creativity, purpose, and performance. In his book Transcend, he presents a new hierarchy of needs, one that allows for both individual potential and the unification of our divided humanity. He spoke with WBI’s Megan McDonough recently as part of our series of noontime talks co-presented with the JCC Manhattan.

Watch now.

Highlights from the Conversation
Megan: Scott, I love the way that you look at questions from a very imaginative standpoint and then you go ahead and answer those questions in really unique ways. I’ve also listened to your psychology podcast on a regular basis. What called you to write this book in the first place?

Scott: There are many levels at which I can answer that question. One level is that I’ve always been interested in human potential, and also people who may grow up with a disadvantage or a learning disability of some nature and it causes them to not be able to fully express the potentials they have within them. I’ve always been fascinated by that topic and I’ve written about that topic for for years, but when I discovered the writings of Abraham Maslow I was very excited to see his thoughts on the topic on human potential and I just realized that he’s been misrepresented and that a lot of people talk about self-actualization but they don’t really understand that he really saw self-actualization as only a bridge to self-transcendence and also he never drew a pyramid. There was never a pyramid in his modeI. I wanted to not only set the record straight but also try to put it within the context of the world and how when we’re pitched into a state of deficiency and deficiency motivation, as Maslow called it, we really are blind to our higher possibilities and I didn’t realize just how relevant this book would be to the world that we’re living in. None of us could have predicted the world we’re living in right now, but I see it as even more relevant than when I was writing it.

Megan: I would agree with you on that and you used two words that I’d love for you to differentiate for the audience—you said self-actualization versus self-transcendence.

Scott: Yes. You know, Maslow, over the last couple years of his life, really started writing a lot about transcendence and writing about how the path of self-actualization is not only about realizing your full potential, it involves helping torealize the full potential of others, and some people never get there. Some people spend their entire lives obsessed with realizing their full potential and they get to a certain age where they’re maxed out, they’ve done it all and then they feel deeply, deeply unsatisfied and they’re like, Why do I feel so unsatisfied? I realized my full potential, all the self-help books told me that that would make me happy. Maslow realized that a lot of the most meaningful moments of our lives, the things that really breathe meaning and purpose into our lives are everyday things. They’re not the things that are like this grandiose peak experience but what he called plateau experiences—micro-moments of kindness to others, micro-moments of seeing the miraculous in the everyday, in appreciating things that have become stale to others, and just feeling connection to the rest of humanity [are things] that often make people feel much more fulfilled in their lives than merely fulfilling their potential.

Megan: When I think of self-actualization and self-transcendence for myself in particular, I recognized within myself sometimes I even have a hard time finding words to describe sort of this deep pulling from a place that feels almost like a void of wanting more; more out of this human existence, and that maybe I have more to give. What is the felt sense when someone is self-actualized versus someone who’s saying, I want more. Is it just like, This isn’t enough? is it a sense of a void?How do we identify that within ourselves?

Scott: It’s a very interesting question. … I consider myself a humanistic psychologist, and a reason why I wanted to write this book, to bring back humanistic psychology, which was popular in the 1950s and ’60s but disappeared, is that the study of humanistic psychology is about the study of the whole person. You say “wholebeing”—that’s interesting phrasing. You know, the original title of my book was not Transcend; in the first draft, the title was How to be a Whole Person. They didn’t think it was sexy enough and then it begged all sorts of questions, like What does it mean if you’re not a whole person? Can you quantify that you’re half of a person or a quarter of a person? I was like okay, I’ll change my my title because people are going to ask me annoying questions! So what does that mean to be a whole person? I have a phrase in my book where I define it. I thought long and hard about what is the definition of a whole person.

So here’s a paragraph I’d like to read: Wholeness is an aspiration, not a destination. It’s a process, not a state that is ever achieved. If anyone tells you they are completely whole, you might want to check to see whether they have any electrical wires growing out of their back; they’re probably not human. That’s my corny humor. The process of becoming a whole person is an ongoing journey of discovery, openness, and courage in which you reach higher and higher levels of integration and harmony within yourself and with the outside world, allowing greater flexibility and freedom to become who you truly want to become. Since you’re always in a state of change, you’re always in a state of becoming. So, this idea of becoming a whole person being the goal is is not what I’m about. It’s about constantly moving in that direction and doing the things in your life that allow you to bring your whole self to the table. So if I’m feeling fear, if I’m talking to someone and I feel like they’re judging me or discriminating against me, I will be pitched into the state where I’m not bringing my whole self to the table. I’ll become guarded, right? I’ll become nervous, unsure of myself. When I was younger, I was in special education for an auditory disability and people and teachers would treat me like I was dumb. I know, can you imagine such a thing? But you know, up to ninth grade, teachers had very low expectations of me and my friends in special education, and I saw how that affected me and my whole-being being expressed. So it really is about a momentary-to-momentary process of allowing us to have the maximum freedom to move in any situation. So that’s how I see it, but I’d love to hear how you see it, considering it’s the whole mission of your institute.

Megan: It’s interesting that you pull out that because I read that and I made a mark in the book. It was one of the questions I was going to ask you about that definition of wholeness, because fundamentally we do see it here at Wholebeing Institute differently—that rather than whole-being, a wholeness, being an aspiration, that wholeness exists, and whether or not we experience it is another story. Whether or not we see the wholeness or accept the wholeness is a different story, but wholeness is there. We look at whole-person well-being and those two things together.

Scott: Yes, there’s a lot of competing philosophies. Sometimes the [meditation apps] will say things like, “Close your eyes and and realize that you’re already whole,” you know? And I realize that’s a certain philosophy. I don’t agree that that’s true though.

Megan: Yes, welcome to disagreeing—we’re okay with that here. I think both perspectives are sort of interesting to play with as an inquiry, right? One of the questions I always come back to when I think about wholeness is the idea of self because this definition of how we define ourselves many times excludes some of the things that we wish weren’t part of us and that’s an exclusion of who we are anyway. So this definition of self, how do you think about that term “self” when you talk about self-transcendence and self-actualization?

Scott: To me, it’s all about integration and that’s what I focus on, that becoming a whole person means becoming one harmonious unit where you’re not fighting a war within yourself, you know? It seems too easy for me. I love the mission of Wholebeing Institute. But when people say things like, “You’re already whole, don’t worry about it,” that’s too easy, you know? Like working on yourself is a good thing—don’t give people a “get out of jail free” card! Let people realize that we’re all in this state. We’re all human, we’re all in this state of becoming together, all of us. And the thing is, no one’s exempt from that, you know? I don’t like it. I also don’t like it when certain gurus abuse their position of power but then they’ll go and they’ll talk about how they’re enlightened and they’re whole and i’m like, no, you need to work on yourself, too, just like the rest of us. So I think the way I see it is it’s all about the integration, the harmonious unit, and that takes a lot of work that takes a lot of being conscious of the ways in which different parts of yourself are fighting with other parts of yourself and also which parts of yourself are taking you away from the best parts of yourself, and I think that’s a very worthy project. If I didn’t believe that people couldn’t grow and move towards this, I wouldn’t write a 400-something page book. But also, if I believe that if all you had to do is close your eyes and you’re there, then I also wouldn’t have written a book at all. [We need to] consciously steer our lives in the direction we want to become or else we’ll be slaves to our unconscious drives and to external pressures and things that people tell us, ways that we should be. Karen Horney, [LINK to https://www.verywellmind.com/karen-horney-biography-2795539] one my favorite psychoanalysts, had something called the “tyrannical shoulds,” and if we can get rid of those tyrannical shoulds in our lives and learn how all these parts of ourselves, including our quote “dark side,” can all work together, we can be comfortable in the body. That takes hard work.

Megan: Yes, she would talk about that sense of she didn’t use the real self, or—and these terms all get very confusing for those of us who don’t call ourselves psychologists to think about—the authentic self, ought self, real self, aspirational self. We live in a being that has these multitudes of selves and maybe that’s the wholeness that we’re all trying to get our heads wrapped around: Who am I? Who is this me?

Scott: So [one of our listeners] says about gurus, “I think we’re in a place of rapid evolution and everyone is doing the best they can to communicate the messages they’re receiving.” I think that’s true with a lot of people but actually I think there are definitely gurus out there who project a lot of their own pain and trauma on abusing and taking advantage of and exploiting people. If we ignore exploitation a hundred percent and just say everyone’s just trying to do their best, I don’t think that’s fair. [Are] the sexual predators “just doing the best they can”—do we really do we want to say that? Do you know what I mean?

Megan: Yes, and Scott I’ve got to tell you, one of the things that sort of is an allergic reaction on my end is that people tend to use the word self-actualization as sort of spiritually superior ways of relating to others. I have a real allergic reaction to that and so sometimes when I see self-transcendence or self-actualization, I just notice in myself like, do we really talk like that? Like who would ever actually agree to say I’m a self-actualized person? Who would actually say that? Watch out for those people!

Scott: That’s exactly right, I’m glad you made that point because I defined healthy transcendence in my book versus unhealthy transcendence—this is a distinction I try to make. I define healthy transcendence as not being above anyone else but being a part of humanity as much as possible. See, my definition of transcendence might be different than other people’s notion of transcendence. The healthiest form of transcendence is not about leaving any parts of ourselves or anyone else behind or singularly rising above the rest of humanity. A healthy transcendence as I see it is not about being outside the whole or feeling superior to the whole but being a harmonious part of the whole of human existence. It’s also not a level any human ever actually achieves but it’s a North Star for all of humanity. In a nutshell, healthy transcendence involves harnessing all that you are in the service of realizing the best version of yourself so you can help raise the bar for the whole of humanity. So I guess it might be a bit different than some other people’s conceptualization of transcendence but that’s how I see it.

Megan: Thanks, Scott. I saw an excellent question from [another listener] about systemic barriers to transcendence, and given where we’re at today with the protests and social injustice, how do we consider or think about the systemic barriers or societal barriers to transcendence?

Scott: Societal, societal. I’ve been talking about that a lot and that’s what I’ve been focusing on when I give book talks now, is there are an awful lot of barriers to self-actualization that are environmental, so not all of it comes from within, like the barriers we put on ourselves—even though we do put a lot of barriers on ourselves. A lot of barriers do come when people aren’t given the resources or support structures; they might have amazing talent, they might have amazing potential to realize something but they are so concerned and focused on security and having those needs met on physical, survival [levels] sometimes. I talk in my book as well about discrimination. For anyone who’s discriminated against, whether it’s the color of your skin or your gender or your learning disability—I think a lot of us know what that feels like to be discriminated against—when we face discrimination we don’t feel comfortable being authentic. There’s some really interesting research showing that the research in positive psychology and authenticity leaves out a lot of people who are marginalized in our society (and there’s lots of ways that you can be marginalized in our society) who feel like they might even be killed if they feel authentic, you know? They may be bullied. That’s a part of the psychological literature that I think needs to be discussed more. I talk about that a little bit in my book, you know, I have a sailboat metaphor … We can’t fully open our sail and feel vulnerable and open to the winds of the ocean as we’re traveling through the unknown of the sea until we feel like our basic needs [are met] for safety, connection, self-esteem—we feel respected, we feel liked, and we feel safe. If it has leaks in the boat, you’re not going anywhere, you can’t move in your desired direction, you can’t realize your purpose, right? But once that’s secure, we also can’t stay in the boat our entire lives. In the picture from my book, there are other boats there as well in the diagram—we’re all in the sea together, we’re not in the sea alone, we’re all moving in our own direction but we’re all in the sea together, and at any moment a wave can come crashing down on all the boats at the same time, and then all of a sudden we all have to work together and I think it’s what we’re seeing a lot right now. I wanted to bring up this sailboat metaphor because I think it’s a much better way of depicting human growth and self-actualization.

Megan: That so resonates with me … What I really disliked when I was learning about Maslow’s pyramid—which I understand now is not a pyramid—was that it was almost like a linear to-do checklist progression: You do this and then this is the next step, you do this and then this is the next step. What I love about this metaphor is your sail is not going to go up really high if you are scooping water out of your boat. You don’t feel like this is a container that will carry you if you’re not hoisting that sail up and so there’s a sense of movement, of change too, so that if a wave does come and the sail does come down, okay, there’s some repair that needs to be done and it’s more of a journey than it is [about] checking off one step at a time.

Scott: Life is something that you experience, not a truck up a mountain to some sort of summit. I mean, in our lives we may climb mountains but that’s not what all of life is about.

Megan: [Another listener] asked, [if] we don’t even have the basic needs fulfilled, now what?

Scott: The truth is, we never have our basic needs fulfilled. We never will in our lives. At any point in our lives, we probably go down the list and say—and Maslow said this—you might be 25 percent fulfilled in self-esteem. How many people are 100 percent fulfilled ever in their lives?

Megan: Go ahead and raise your hand if you’re 100 percent fulfilled and we’ll hand you the mic, how’s that?

Scott: And connection … Do you mean to tell me that before this moment people never complained that they felt lonely? So this moment has maybe caused us to reflect and think about our highest priorities and the things that we most need in our lives. Connection doesn’t just come from living with someone, for instance, it’s the high-quality connection that matters the most, not even the necessary physical proximity to a person. There’s still lots of opportunities in the virtual world for high-quality connections if you want to cultivate them. High-quality connections are connections in which there’s great mutuality, there’s great pulling of needs, as Maslow called it. My needs become your needs, your needs become my needs. It’s different than the need for belonging. A lot of people in their quest for intimacy may search for belonging and then realize that doesn’t satisfy what they’re really looking for, which is intimacy. There’s lots of ways we can belong—we can belong by saying I’m a Democrat and then joining a Democratic organization, and then you feel like you belong as part of that group, but that group only really cares about you probably to the extent to which you care about their goals, but how much is there? Do they care about your whole being, you know? You want to have friends, genuine friends, who care about your whole being, not just what you do for them or just because you agree with one slice of them. You know what I mean?

Megan: I think that’s very powerful, Scott. That’s so true, right? It’s not just your one belief, Democrat or Republican or a school committee or not school committee.

Scott: Because they’ll drop you in a second if you write one thing on Twitter that suggests you’re not 100 percent along their lines of Democrat. Maybe you question one thing they said, you said, “Actually, I would like to question it,” and suddenly they’re not friends with you anymore. So, they’re not your true friends. I really do believe in high-quality connections, and for high-quality connections, you may only need two people. I think research shows two, that you really need two high-quality connections in your life to feel satisfied and whole. It’s funny you can have a million superficial friends and not feel whole, you know? And it might take just two people where you have a high-quality connection, someone that you can talk to, you can say, “This is how I’m feeling today, I’d love to discuss something with you, you might not even agree with me but let’s discuss,” and they just appreciate the sacredness of your being. That’s what’s at the core of it, is that they appreciate the sacredness of your being. It’s not that the core of it is that they appreciate your view on this issue or view on that issue, but that they have what Maslow called “B-love”[LINK to https://psychologydictionary.org/being-love-b-love/]—love for the being of others. It’s being love not doing love. A lot of people think that if they check the box, like, I donated this to this organization, I donated to that organization, now I’m going to be an [expletive] the rest of my life, you know? Like, I’m good because I donated to these things. That’s not being love. Every day of your life, every second, every moment with other people, it’s not living and breathing love, it’s doing love. Does this resonate with anyone? Does that make any sense?

Megan: It makes perfect sense, and B-love—you write it in the book is an actual letter B-dash-love, so it’s not “be love,” its “B-love.”

Scott: That’s right, it’s not bees getting it on.

Megan: A lot of Bs here! You’ve convinced me to read your book! Let’s do a little advertisement for Scott’s new book, Transcend. If you haven’t got it yet, now’s the time to get it. It is one of those books where I’ve marked up an awful lot. In the back there’s a lot of practices, so we can take the big picture of this model of the boat and one of the big concepts that we’re talking about and go into some practices. And high-quality connections is certainly one practice that we can cultivate.

Scott: I have a whole thing of growth challenges, and I’m going to be doing an eight-week course, so people can go to scottbarrykaufman.com and sign up for my newsletter and I’ll announce it if they want to be notified of it. I’m going to be taking the course I’ve been teaching at Columbia called The Science of Living Well [LINK to https://scienceandsociety.columbia.edu/content/bc1088-science-living-well-s… putting it online for the first time. I have the series of growth challenges that I do with my students and I’ll be providing all those growth challenges for the course. I also have some growth challenges here in my book. I’m just looking through some that might be particularly relevant. I really like the “Explore Your Dark Side” one. My students really like that one, where you reflect in your journal on some questions that that you want to think about mindfully about your uncomfortable emotions. See, I don’t like the phrase “negative emotions,” I prefer the term “uncomfortable emotions.” I don’t like the phrase “positive emotions,” I like the phrase “comfortable emotions.” You know, a lot of emotions that seem positive, that we call positive, in positive psychology can really blind us to things, you know? Like sometimes being too optimistic when everyone else around you is suffering blinds you to their suffering. So I think we actually shouldn’t think about things as either positive or negative.

So, in this journal, reflect upon your dark side. What might come to mind when thinking about your own dark side? What are a few situations in your life that make you feel particularly negative, for example, time spent in a particular place?What could the triggers be? Really think that through with certain people or things that you often dread but have to do. What is something in your life that you struggle with or see as a potential scar? Consider in what ways have you coped with the negative emotions, emotional scars, or negative parts of your identity, and what new ways might you be able to take these negative emotions or scars and do something productive with them, such as making small personal improvements or connecting with others rather than judging yourself? How might your dark side make you a better friend, student, or person? How does your dark side serve you in helping you become a whole person? You know, really entertaining those questions for the first time. We already talked about cultivating and fostering high-quality connections. It’s also important to grow and cultivate a secure connection with a partner. I have an exercise here for dealing with a partner, but it’s too long for me to read so I won’t do that.

Megan: How about death? How about contemplating death? You wrote pretty powerfully in your book about the experience you had when you went through that. The end game, is that what it was called?

Scott: It’s called “The End,” but it was a game you’re right. Yeah, boy, that’s a topic. Death, wow, none of us escaped that alive.

Megan: Who likes to think about death, but there is something that’s weirdly enlivening about really contemplating that your time here is limited and do we not transcend some of our pettiness if we recognize that. And I was particularly touched when you talked about reading the very last note that Maslow wrote in that our lives, even when they’re done, feel unfinished—there’s always more work to be done and contemplating that helps us choose today what’s most important for us.

Scott: Choosing what you want to do that will transcend yourself is the only thing that makes us not fear death, you know? Like dissolution of the ego … there’s lots of ways of getting in that … Some people get instant transcendence through LSD or psychedelics, right? And I don’t know how many people in this room have done psychedelics—you know who you are!

Megan: We won’t ask you to raise your hands, but you know!

Scott: There are other ways, like a deep meditation practice, spiritual practices like prayer has been shown in some ways. There are a whole wide range of spiritual practices available to people regardless of their specific religious beliefs. You know, like encountering all triggers and things in your life that make you feel reverence or just be outside of yourself or the things that give us the greatest peace in our life and we don’t fear death as much. You know what I really try to get at is, what is the fear of death? What is it really? The thing is, death activates a lot of our defense mechanisms. In a lot of ways, it’s death signals; first of all, it’s a threat to our self-esteem, so narcissists don’t like to think that they’re ever gonna die. You know, profound, profound narcissists will almost have this illusion that they’re immortal, that they can do anything and no one can touch them. I hate to say it but a lot of narcissists have died throughout the course of human history, so it’s not true—they’re human, too. But it’s a big threat to our self-esteem to know that our self will disappear and there’s nothing we can do about it someday, right? So that’s a threat. Death is also a threat to our connections—connections to others, to our loved ones. The thing is, death is a threat to our basic needs in a way. It’s the ultimate threat, but we don’t have to view it as such. If we live a life where we’re only concerned with our basic needs then, yes, that’s how you can view the situation but those who can transcend the boat of the sailboat and can open up the sail and live their lives fully with the unknown, with bravery, with courage, with love, exploration, purpose …. [When] you move in that direction, you find you’re not so concerned with death. The only people who are so preoccupied tend to be the ones that are in that boat, you know. Does that make sense?

Megan: Holding on to it, trying to hold on to life instead of experiencing a living into life … When you’re actually living into life life itself, that can really fill you up, if I hear what you’re saying correctly. … I like [this listener’s] question about realistic expectations. Something about transcendence might not feel too realistic, so how do you think about “realistic expectations” when you think about becoming and self-actualization and self-transcendence?

Scott: I think it’s very realistic for for us to be on the path to self-actualization. Again, it depends on how you think of the situation; I don’t view it as this one grandiose moment that you ever achieve, it’s a direction you decide that you’re going to, every day, you know you’re going to try your best to explore things, to treat things with love, and you have a specific direction that you’re moving in. That’s the path of self-actualization. And I think it’s very realistic that any of us can wake up every morning and be like, My goal for the day is to move in this direction, and it’s in my sailboat, and that’s the direction I want to move in today and I’m going to work towards it. I think it’s very realistic. I believe in people, I guess. Maybe that’s my my biggest Achilles heel or my greatest strength, I don’t know which.

Megan: Well, maybe we think too loftily about transcendence. I mean, Jonathan Hayden’s work on awe shows that we have these moments of awe and that the self-transcendent positive emotions—even though you don’t like that word positive—do happen more often if we pay more attention to this one precious life, as Mary Oliver would write. Perhaps we wouldn’t need to think, is this realistic or not realistic, because it’s already here. Any thoughts on that?

Scott: I like things that are positive, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like it in the context of emotions. I don’t like to prejudge things as positive or negative, you know? We can prejudge people as positive or negative without even talking to them. I’m all about positive outcomes. You see what I’m saying, do you see my distinction?

Megan: Actually, I really loved your reframe of “comfortable” and “not comfortable.” When I was teaching the course on leadership, I tried to think about constructive or destructive because sometimes negative emotions can be very constructive as it pertains to a given moment. I like comfortable and uncomfortable better.

[Another listener] asks about a career coach asking them to write the story of his own future obituary to help him clarify what really matters to him and how do I want to be remembered, and it was really helpful to understand where I needed to reform and refocus my energy.

Scott: Yeah, I love that. Maslow had all sorts of exercises to help us overcome the fear of death but also to be really fully present with someone is sometimes thinking about the impermanence of the moment. Sometimes even when you’re talking to someone, as I do sometimes, imagining what what life will be like without them, you know? And while you’re talking to them, imagining them dead. I know it sounds intense, I realize, but some of these kinds of exercises can really help us walk into the preciousness of the moment.

Megan: [Another listener] asks, What has been most helpful for you during the pandemic?

Scott: My gosh, you know, acceptance … radical acceptance—that’s not my own phrase but Tara Brach’s. [LINK “radical acceptance” to https://www.tarabrach.com/articles-interviews/trauma/] I want to give gratitude. I’ve been practicing that more than anything in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about my past, I’ve been reflecting a lot about narratives that I told myself. It’s so personal what I’m about to say, but I reconnected yesterday with a girlfriend from 18 years ago or 16 years ago for the first time in over 10 years. We had a Skype chat and I asked her lots of things I wanted to know about, like what was your perception of that moment … and she was like, I don’t even remember that. There are things I was harboring, narratives I told myself about, like, I was a jerk in that relationship and stuff, and we talked about it, and she’s like, no, I remember you were really sweet to me. I’ve been harboring for 16 years a narrative about myself, I’ve been so hard on myself—I always am hard on myself, but I’ll be so hard on myself about one little thing that I do that i’ll harp on for like 20 years that I realize that I could have just let go, and it might not even have been true. I realized yesterday some things weren’t true that I had been hard on myself about and that was really transformative for me, just extremely transformative. I just recommend people try it. Pick someone from your past that you may not have even talked to in 20 years and be like, what was I like back then, really what was your perception like, how could I have been a better person? But just question certain things about your narratives. I went right into it yesterday with this chat. It was so healing, it was just so incredibly healing. I realized I have been harboring lots of incorrect narratives and really self-loathing that didn’t need to happen. I didn’t need to loathe myself at all.

Megan: Yeah, I get that. That’s me. I’ve lived into that. Haven’t we all? [Another listener] has a wonderful quote in chat from Pema Chödrön, who says, “Feel the feelings and drop the stories.” So, yeah, easier said to drop the stories but that is really so powerful. Feel the feelings about the story.

Scott: I love that so much. You know, you feel the feelings without the labeling of it, and then you’re just feeling feelings, that’s all. And what are you doing? You’re experiencing life, that’s what life’s all about. You know, that’s it! That’s all we’ve got in life! When we’re no longer alive, we don’t get experiences anymore, that’s what we don’t get when we’re dead, you know? It’s like you ask what is it life buys us, it buys us conscious experiences, that’s it. That’s all life buys us. It’s the only thing that distinguishes us.

Megan: [Another listener] says, it’s so hard to see oneself neutrally and isn’t that part of what we’re trying to transcend when we talk about transcendence, the ability to see all of us? Maybe not neutrally but at least hold the table for all of these feelings and emotions that come up …

Scott: Absolutely. One-thousand percent. Seeing yourself from a vantage point is what meditation practice can really help you with. This idea of radical acceptance is a fascinating concept because it doesn’t mean that you like everything you see, but you know, you have friends, right, who you don’t like everything about them, right? Like, does anyone have a friend where they just like everything about that friend, like there’s literally nothing that annoys them? Like, no.

Megan: I mean if you’re around them enough, eventually they will. If they don’t annoy you, it means you haven’t been spending enough time with them.

Scott: That’s exactly right. Like you know, and yet you don’t disavow your friend. But why do we do that with ourselves? It’s like we’re around ourselves 24/7, of course we’re going to get sick of ourselves sometimes, but if we can look at ourselves at a distance, like we look at our friends at a distance, we realize that we can still be fond of ourselves and still accept things about ourselves that we want to work on. I mean it’s all about growth, so …

Megan: It’s all about growth and about wholeness. So I’m going to wrap up and if you all could take a moment and type into the chat a strength you saw Scott use, something you appreciate about what he shared, just a word or two, so that we can sort of love bomb him before he leaves. We want to show B-love for him and all he’s shared with us today.

Scott: That is really sweet. … Gosh, thank you, this is amazing. Will you send me the chat log afterwards? I can send that to my mom because she’s going to want to read these comments.