timeline personal development

A brief timeline of events relating to personal development

The evolution of ideas relating to the Self and to Personal Development started many years ago with the Ancient Greeks, and maybe in Mesopotamia before them.

Here we list a few of the key events, to give you a sense of who has come before us.

4th century BC – “Know Thyself” (gnōthi seautón) inscribed above the Oracle of Delphi in Ancient Greece

2350 BCThe Maxims of Ptahhotep writings, by the Vizier Ptahhotep

399 BC – “The unexamined life is not worth living”, attributed to Socrates

161-180 ADMeditations, a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius

1574 – Serfdom fully ended in England by Elizabeth I

1637 – “I Think, Therefore I Am” (French: Je pense, donc je suis; Latin: Ego cogito, ergo sum), by Rene Descartes

1690 – ‘Life, Health, Liberty, and Possessions‘ – The Second Treatise on Government – John Locke

1776 – ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness‘ – in the United States Declaration of Independence. (note the difference to John Locke’s text from 1690. Read more here)

1776 – Idea of Economic Individualism introduced in the book ‘Wealth of Nations’, by Adam Smith.

1789 – Phrase ‘Individualism‘ (individualisme) popularised during the French Revolution

1830’s – The word ‘individualism‘ commonly used as a pejorative (a word expressing contempt or disapproval), against collectivism

1847 – A series of lectures, ‘Elements of Individualism‘, by William Maccall

1848 – ‘We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence.‘, in a letter by Frederick Douglass

1855 – ‘Self Help‘ book, by Samuel Smiles

1910 – ‘The Science of Getting Rich‘ book, by writer Wallace D. Wattles

1921 – ‘The Psychology of Individuation‘ publication, by Carl Jung

1929 – Term ‘Rugged Individualism‘ used by Herbert Hoover

1937 – ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ book, by Napoleon Hill

1940’s – Emergence of the philosophical study ‘Existentialism’

1943 – Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of needs‘ theory, in the paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation‘, by Abraham Maslow

1950’s – Emergence of Humanistic psychology, also often referred to as Humanism

1956 – ‘The Strangest Secret‘ spoken recording, by Earl Nightingale

1960’s – Rise of ‘The Human Potential Movement

1970’s – Introduction of ‘Self-Determination Theory

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