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Scott Barry Kaufman On The Science of Transcendence

By March 21, 2022January 5th, 2023No Comments
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Episode #669



When you consistently move in the direction of growth, feelings of happiness and life satisfaction will come along for the ride.

When the conversation turns to ephemeral topics like self-actualization, rational eyes tend to roll. But transcendence isn’t something reserved for the spiritually inclined. In fact, new science has emerged, revealing fascinating, evidence-based insights for realizing your full potential and living your most creative, fulfilled, and connected life.

Today we journey this terrain under the sagacious gaze of Scott Barry Kaufman, a pioneer in the field of  human potential psychology.

A cognitive scientist and humanistic psychologist, Scott has taught at Columbia University, Yale, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale, an MPhil in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge, and a B.S. in psychology and human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon.

Currently, Scott is the founder and director of the Center for the Science of Human Potential and an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Wellbeing Science.

He hosts the #1 psychology podcast in the world—The Psychology Podcast—and in 2015 was named by Business Insider as one of “50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world.”

Dr. Kaufman’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Scientific American, Psychology Today, and Harvard Business Review, and he is the author and editor of 9 books, the latest of which—and a focal point for today’s discussion, is entitled Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, wherein he presents a new hierarchy of human needs for the 21st century, one that allows for the fulfillment of individual potential as well as the actualization of transcendent purpose and peak experiences.

​​“Growth is a result of sustained discipline, not a static disposition.”


This is an important and impactful conversation that covers quite a bit of diverse ground.

We discuss Scott’s extrapolation of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—what it means to engage a growth trajectory, self-actualize, and live a transcendent life.

We talk in detail about the importance of self-worth, connection, purpose, and peak experiences.

We cover the malleability (or lack thereof) of personality and the problematic nature of defining authenticity.

We also we tap a familiar vein of this podcast, dissecting the importance of reimagining education, redefining late bloomers.

In addition, Scott explains the many ways to model healthy masculinity.

Finally, we break down the psychology that is driving so-called heterodox gurus and the various culture war battles aimed at dividing us.

The visually inclined can watch it all go down on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I found Scott to be delightfully engaging, frank, vulnerable, and of course quite wise. My hope is that his message inspires you to think more broadly about happiness, empowers you to embrace diverse experiences, and above all, helps turn the wheel of your life in the direction of self-actualization.

Peace + Plants,

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