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The 12 Things Sigmund Freud Got Right

May 6 was Sigmund Freud’s birthday (born in 1856). It has been more or less 100 years since Freud wrote many of his groundbreaking books and papers on the human mind – exploring and theorizing about dreams, culture, childhood development, sexuality and mental health. And while some of his theories have been discredited, many major ideas have been borne out and are still relevant today, according to Discover Magazine. They are a roadmap to our minds and are still useful and accepted – in one way or another – by all educated people, who grapple with the issues of self-knowledge and human motives.

Freud tells a story that few of us want to hear: We do not know ourselves. We do not really know what motivates us or why we do what we do.

Our conscious thoughts are just the tip of our mental iceberg.

In commemoration of Mental Health Awareness month this May, the following list, compiled with help from the American Psychoanalytic Association, are 12 examples of the gifts Freud left to us.

1) The Unconcious. Nothing Comes “Out of the Blue”: Freud discovered that there are no accidents and no coincidences. Even “random-seeming” feelings, ideas, impulses, wishes, events and actions carry important, often unconscious, meanings. Anyone who has ever made a “Freudian Slip” that has left them embarrassed or baffled will attest to the importance of the unconscious meanings of the things we do and say. That time you “accidentally” left your keys at your lover’s apartment may have been an accident; but more likely, at least unconsciously, you wanted to go back for more. From dreams, to Freudian slips, to free association — delving into one’s unconscious as a means of unlocking often hidden or denied fantasies, traumas or motivations is still crucial to gaining the whole truth about human behavior.

2) Sexuality is Everyone’s Weakness-and Strength: Sex is a prime motivator and common denominator for all of us. It is not a message many want to hear. So high is our disgust for these elementary Darwinian principles – that led to human triumph over all other living things — that we spent much of our time denying the dark side of our lives. Even the most prudent, puritanical-appearing individuals struggle greatly against their sexual appetites and expression. One need only look to the many scandals that have rocked the Vatican, fundamentalist churches, politicians and celebrities alike. Freud observed this prurient struggle in men and women early on in Victorian Vienna and extrapolated easily from there.

3) A Cigar is Never Just a Cigar (except when it is): It is a commonly accepted idea in contemporary psychology that everything is determined by multiple factors and also idiosyncratic to the individual. So, nothing is so simply determined. So is it a pacifier? Okay. A penis? Perhaps. A cigar? Sure. However, few would argue that all meanings have profound implications. No controversy here. So go ahead, have a cigar.

4) Every Part of the Body is Erotic: Freud knew that human beings were sexual beings right from the start. He took his inspiration from the baby nursing at the mother’s breast to illustrate the example of more mature sexuality, saying, “No one who has seen a baby sinking back satiated from the breast and falling asleep with flushed cheeks and a blissful smile can escape the reflection that this picture persists as a prototype of the expression of sexual satisfaction later in life.” He knew, too, that sexual excitation is not restricted to genitalia, as pleasure is achieved through erotic attachment to potentially any idiosyncratically defined area of the body, and most definitely not limited to genital intercourse between a male and female. Even today many people have great difficulty accepting this idea.

5) Thought is a Roundabout Way of Wishing: Freud discovered that the mere act of thinking (wishing and fantasizing) is itself gratifying. In fact, what therapists and psychoanalysts commonly observe is that the fantasy is more mentally and physically stimulating fulfilling than the actual, real life action the fantasy is organized around. Is it any wonder that reality doesn’t measure up to the intense, vivid fantasy? Freud’s observation that humans’ attempt to fantasize things into reality is today fully accepted by neuroscientists as the basis for imagination.


6) Talking Cures: “If someone speaks, it gets lighter” From Freud’s introduction lecture XXV.

Whether an individual’s therapy is based in Freudian psychoanalysis or some other form of talk therapy, the evidence is clear that talking helps alleviate emotional symptoms, lessen anxiety and frees up the person’s mind. While medication and brief therapy can often be effective in alleviating symptoms, talk therapy uses the powerful tool of the therapeutic relationship. The whole person is involved in the treatment, not just a set of symptoms or a diagnosis, therefore deeper and more lasting change becomes possible.

7) Defense Mechanisms: The term “defense mechanism” is so much a part of our basic understanding of human behavior that we take it for granted. Yet, this is another construct developed and theorized by the Freuds (Sigmund and his daughter, Anna). According to Freud, defense mechanisms are psychological strategies brought into play by the unconscious mind to manipulate, deny or distort reality in order to protect against feelings of anxiety and/or unacceptable impulses.

Among the many types of defense mechanisms coined by Freud, i.e. repression, rationalization, projection, denial is perhaps the most well known. Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Denial can be personal-for example denying an addiction or denying a painful life experience-but it can also take the form of denying scientific, social and cultural phenomena – for example, the reality of climate change or the Holocaust.

8) Resistance to Change: Our minds and behavior patterns inherently resist change. It’s new, it’s threatening and it’s unwelcome – even when it’s a change for the good. Psychoanalysis got this ubiquitous principle of resistance right, and found tools to bring it to consciousness and defeat its stubborn ability to create obstacles to forward movement, both of individuals and groups.

9) The Past Impacts the Present: This might seem like a no-brainer to most of us in 2015, but more than 100 years ago, this was an “ahh-ha” moment for Freud. Today, many of Freud’s theories on childhood development and the effects of early life experience on later behavior contribute greatly to helping and treating patients whose lives are stuck in repetitive patterns.

10) Transference: An example of the past impacting the present is the concept of transference, another Freud construct that is widely understood and utilized in today’s psychology practices. Transference refers to very strong feelings, hopes, fantasies and fears we have in relation to the important relationships of our childhood that carry forward, unconsciously, and impact present day relationships.

11) Development: Human development continues throughout the life cycle; a successful life depends on adaptability and mastery of change as it confronts each of us. Every new stage of life presents challenges and provides the opportunity to reassess our core personal goals and values.

12) The Price of Civilization is Neurotic Discontent: Freud stated, “The inclination to aggression constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization.” Few thinkers have looked so unflinchingly at human aggression as Freud. While the guns of August still echoed and European anti-Semitism grew rife, Freud wrote Civilization and Its Discontents (1929), declaring: “Man is wolf to man. Who … will have the courage to dispute this assertion?” “Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved,” Freud wrote in 1929, using words as relevant today as then, “but rather, (are) creatures whose instinct (is) aggressiveness.” We continue to meet the enemy…and it is us. Yet if we cannot change, what will happen to our civilization?”

The Nazi invaders in World War II banned and attacked Freud, as did the Communists afterwards. New Yorker editor David Remnick quotes a Hamas leader saying that Israel must be destroyed because “the media – it’s controlled by the Jews. Freud, a Jew, was the one who destroyed morals.”

But Freud did not like America. He thought that Americans had channeled their sexuality into an unhealthy obsession with money.

He wrote to a German friend after World War I, “Is it not sad, that we are materially dependent on these savages, who are not a better class of human beings?”

Ironically, America, in the end, turned out to be a most favorable repository of Freud’s exquisite legacy of ideas.

Posted: 05/07/2015


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The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

By Joachim Vogt Isaksen

Have you ever had the experience of waking up one day following a lousy night’s sleep after several nightmares and thought to yourself: “this is going to be a crappy day”, and at the end of the day concluded that your predictions were correct and this was exactly what happened? You may have been thinking to yourself that you completely predicted the outcome of your day, and that you probably should have stayed at home this day.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a concept used by the American sociologist Robert Merton to describe how a statement may alter actions and therefore become true. In situations where many individuals act on the basis of an expectation, they may actually influence whether an incident will take place or not. When this is happening the individuals create the very conditions they actually believe exist. Even when where there is no reason to worry, the feared outcome may take place if enough people act as if there were some kind of basis for the fear.

Self-fulfilling prophecies often lead to unfavourable outcomes. The dire expectation that an event may take place may have serious consequences, such as bankruptcies, scarcity of food and goods, pressures on the stock-markets, and may even lead to wars. People may for example, act on a false rumour that the stocks will decline, or that there will be a shortage of butter in the close future. If enough people act on these false rumours by selling their stocks and buying huge quantities of butter, they will actually cause the expected event to occur.

One example of the self-fulfilling prophecy is the placebo effect. The placebo effect has been demonstrated in several studies, and may be described as the felt improvement in health but which is not attributable to the medication, or the given treatment. Instead, the patient’s belief in the treatment will enhance the immune system, and lead to faster recovery.

The self-fulfilling prophecy has also been demonstrated in experiments where people justify their prejudices toward members of other ethnic groups. This could be illustrated by the following statement: “We don’t want those people here because they only stick to themselves anyway, they are so chauvinistic on behalf of themselves.”

While the self-fulfilling prophecy doesn’t have the force to alter natural events such as hurricanes or earthquakes, your personal attitude may influence smaller everyday situations as how you relate to other people and their response to your behavior. If you apply an optimistic mindset you may for example influence other people to perceive you in a positive way.

People who tend to be caught in negative self-fulfilling prophecies often suffer from low self-esteem where they act upon an overly critical self-evaluation. They tend to have a pessimistic view on the world and their chances to influence their own situation for the better. This leads to a vicious cycle, where their negative mindset strengthens their self-fulfilling prophecies.

In sum, increased awareness of how to avoid the negative effects of self-fulfilling prophecies may be for the good not only for people in their daily lives, but also for society as a whole.

Further reading:
Merton, Robert K. 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure.New York: Free Press.

self fulfilling prophecy

Using Self-Fulfilling Prophecies to Your Advantage

Why “fake it ’til you make it” is good advice

October 11, 2012        by Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D. in Psychology for Writers

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy CycleHow the self-fulfilling prophecy worksA self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it is already true. New Agers call this The Law of Attraction (see, for example, Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 self-help book The Secret), but there’s really nothing mystical about it. Our expectation that we will see a particular outcome changes our behavior, which shapes the way others see us. In turn, others provide the feedback we’ve set ourselves up to get, which serves to reinforce the original belief.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m going to a party where I don’t know many people. If I believe I don’t make a good first impression, or I worry that nobody will talk to me, I will probably enter the party acting awkward, anxious, and standoffish. In turn, people are likely to interact with me with less enthusiasm, or they may ignore or shun me. Which only reinforces my belief that I’m not good with people I don’t know.

If, by contrast, I enter the party believing that I’m good with people I don’t know and expecting to make new friends, I’m likely to be outgoing, engaging, and less apt to take a cold shoulder personally. As a result, people will likely respond amiably to my friendliness and I may indeed make new friends.

So that old “fake it ‘til you make it” advice is pretty darn good advice.

Though many writers are solitary creatures, we are just as susceptible to self-fulfilling prophecies as anyone else. Our behaviors towards others impact others’ behaviors toward us.

Let’s take the querying process, for example. Let’s assume you’ve completed a project and had it vetted by trustworthy beta readers, and now it’s as polished as you know how to make it. Let’s also assume that you know how to write a decent, professional query letter.

If you believe your project is strong and feel confident about it, you will probably write a strong, confident letter. More importantly, you will be motivated to find reputable agents who will be interested in your project and tenacious about sending out your queries. If, by contrast, you are uncertain about your project and its merits, you may have trouble writing an upbeat, engaging letter.  Each rejection will punch holes in your resoluteness, and you’ll spend far more time worrying about what’s wrong with your story (or your query) than you will actually striving to get your project out there.

That faith in your project and yourself will also serve you well when it comes to marketing your book. (And these days much of the marketing does fall to the writer, not the publisher.) If you don’t believe anyone will want to buy your book, why would you bother doing the work to market it? If, on the other hand, you believe you have something others will really enjoy or find useful, you will be enthusiastic about reaching out to possible readers. And enthusiasm is contagious.

Caveat: Confidence is useful; arrogance, not so much. Some writers get presumptuous and self-aggrandizing and approach agents and editors by using unrealistic, overblown statements like “This is guaranteed to be a bestseller!” or “You are now reading a letter from the next JK Rowling!” These things neither inform the agent/editor about your project, nor endear you to him or her.  Humility and a willingness to learn usually go a lot farther.  Fortunately, confidence and humility can go together.

What are some ways you see self-fulfilling prophecies operating in your writing life? Where are they holding you back?

Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD ♦ Psychology for Writers on Psychology Today 
Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD is the author of The Writer’s Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior

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Resisting temptation: It’s all in your brain

If I offer you a bag of potato chips today or a box of chocolate truffles next week, which would you choose? Neuroscientists are interested in exploring what happens when the brain must choose between receiving a reward immediately or in the future, especially when waiting may result in a prize you like better.

A seahorse-shaped structure in the brain called the hippocampus is involved in recalling events from the past, and imagining them in the future. A new study in the journal PLOS Biology explores what role the hippocampus plays when a person has to decide between getting a reward now or later.

This study looked at healthy individuals as well as those with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition characterized by memory impairment and associated with atrophy of the hippocampus, and a different brain condition called frontotemporal dementia.

The French study, led by Mael Lebreton at the Brain and Spine Institute (ICM) in Paris, looked at time-dependent choices involving money, as well as “episodic” options such as food, sports or cultural events.

In the first experiment, researchers gave 15 participants a series of decisions about choosing one reward or another, where one of the hypothetical prizes is given now, and the other later. Some options were described in labeled photos, and some as just text. Photos gave participants a visual image, but with text, the subjects were forced to imagine what they would get. Participants tended to choose the delayed rewards when they imagined them with more detail.

The second experiment involved 20 participants faced with the same kinds of decisions. Here researcher learned that participants tended to be consistent in their level of impulsiveness, regardless of whether they were choosing between amounts of money or experiences such as foods or sports tickets. Individuals tended to either want rewards right away, or they were willing to wait for something better, “arguing in favor of a common underlying impulsive trait,” the study authors wrote.

This second experiment also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track activation patterns in the hippocampus. Importantly, when immediate rewards were shown as pictures, and future rewards were given as text, researchers found that the amount of activity in the hippocampus was related to the selection of future rewards. But when both options are presented as pictures, or as text, the hippocampus does not show increased activation. In other words, the hippocampus helps you assess the value of waiting for a reward when you have to imagine it, compared to an immediate reward that you can see.

Researchers also studied these kinds of tasks among dementia patients compared to healthy controls. Unlike the healthy participants, Alzheimer’s patients tended to not favor options written out as text, which required mental simulation. Study authors say this suggests that the damage to the hippocampus caused by Alzheimer’s may impact these time-related choices. The type of dementia seems to matter, too. Patients with a behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia tended to be impulsive in many different scenarios, whereas Alzheimer’s disease patients favored immediate over delayed rewards, when they had to imagine the future rewards.

Potentially, this may mean patients with Alzheimer’s disease or even general damage to the hippocampus, will have problems pursuing long-term goals because they have problems simulating future experiences in their minds, the study said.

But, given the small sample sizes for the experiments, more research is needed to confirm the findings and strengthen the possible conclusions. It is also based on associations between behaviors and brain activity, and does not prove causation.

The new study is part of a growing body of research exploring areas of the brain most associated with self-control and how they work.

In the future, scientists say, drugs may be designed to enhance these processes, so that people with impulse control problems can find relief. Understanding the processes that break down in people who can’t say no to temptation as often as they would like, may lead to the eventual development of such drugs.

by: Elizabeth Landau – CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

 source: CNN

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6 Purely Psychological Effects of Washing Your Hands

Washing your hands doesn’t just keep you healthier; it has all sorts of subtle psychological effects as well.

Hand washing sends an unconscious metaphorical message to the mind: we don’t just cleanse ourselves of physical residues, we also cleanse ourselves of mental residues.

So, here are six purely psychological effects of washing your hands…

1. Recover optimism

Washing your hands can wash away the feeling of failure.

In a study by Kaspar (2012) participants who failed at a task, then washed their hands, felt more optimistic afterwards than those who didn’t.

Unfortunately washing their hands also seemed to reduce their motivation for trying the task again.

Still, hand washing can help boost optimism after a failure.

2. Feel less guilty

In the mind, dirt is associated with guilt, so theoretically washing doesn’t just remove dirt, it also removes a guilty feeling.

One study had participants think about some immoral behaviour from their past (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). One group were then told to use an antiseptic wipe, and another not.

Those who washed their hands after thinking about an immoral behaviour felt less guilty. The antiseptic wipe had literally wiped away their guilt.

3. Take the moral high ground

Feeling clean directly affects our view of other people.

When people in one study washed their hands, they were more disgusted by the bad behaviour of others (Zhong, Strejcek & Sivanathan, 2010):

“…”clean” participants made harsher moral judgments on a wide range of issues, from abortion to drug use and masturbation. They also rated their own moral character more favorably in comparison with that of their fellow students.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

So, when people feel clean themselves, they take the moral high ground and are harsher on the transgressive behaviour of others.

Wash your hands, wash your mind: recover optimism, feel less guilty, less doubtful and more…

4. Remove doubt

Sometimes, after people make the wrong decision, they try to justify it by pretending it was the right decision.

It’s a result of cognitive dissonance, and it’s one way in which people lie to themselves.

However, hand washing may wipe away the need for self-justification in some circumstances, leaving you better able to evaluate your decision the way it really is (Lee & Schwarz, 2010).

5. Wash away bad luck

Washing the hands can mentally wipe away the effects of perceived bad luck.

When participants in one study had some experimentally induced ‘bad luck’ while gambling, washing their hands seemed to mentally wash away their bad luck (Xu et al., 2012).

In comparison to those who didn’t wash their hands, hand washers carried on betting as if their bad luck was forgotten.

6. Guilt other people into washing their hands

Apart from its psychological effects, hand washing is the cheapest and best way of controlling the spread of things like colds and other infectious diseases.

So, getting people to wash their hands is really important.

To this end, a public health study flashed different messages onto the walls of public toilets as people entered, including “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does,” and “Don’t be a dirty soap dodger.” (Judah et al., 2009)

The most effective overall message, though, was: “Is the person next to you washing with soap?”

So it seems when you wash your hands in a public toilet, you help guilt other people into washing theirs as well.

Not only are you staying healthy, you’re also doing a public service by shaming others into following suit.

A clean slate

All these studies are demonstrating that when we wash our hands, we also wash our minds clean:

“…the notion of washing away one’s sins, entailed in the moral-purity metaphor, seems to have generalized to a broader conceptualization of wiping the slate clean, allowing people to metaphorically remove a potentially broad range of psychological residues.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog.  
source: PsyBlog

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How Desire Fools Us: The Benefits and Dangers of The Chase

Desire brings us joy. Learn to harness its benefits while avoiding its dangers.

by Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D. in Feeling It           August 13, 2013

Why do we love to chase? What is so intriguingly attractive about hard-to-get partners, Black Friday sales, and the very latest iPhone? Whether it’s for a trophy, a promotion, a slice at a popular pizza parlor, or Twitter followers, desire simply gets us all fired up.

Anticipatory Joy

A cat will chase a toy mouse because a good chase activates its brain’s reward system. The same is true for us. We experience anticipatory joy. In other words, anticipation of a desired outcome makes us feel good. Research by Stanford University’s Brian Knutson shows that just looking at the object of our desire activates neural signals associated with the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter released during reward signaling) in the brain. Knutson’s research suggests that we don’t just derive happiness from attaining, receiving, or consuming the object of our desires, we also do so from anticipating it i.e. it’s not just eating the cake that makes us happy but also staring at it through the storefront. Think of anticipating a fantastic vacation, or a reunion with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, or a meal at your favorite restaurant. This may be the reason why people go window-shopping, gamble, test-drive ferarris or go to strip clubs. Although they can’t possess the object of their desire, they experience the titillating state of anticipatory joy.

Loving The Chase Helps us Survive & Thrive

In his book Authentic Happiness, psychologist Martin Seligman describes a telling story of a pet iguana who refused to eat and was slowly starving to death until, one day, he saw his owner eating a sandwich. That’s when the iguana pounced on the plate with the sandwich. The iguana would rather starve to death than not experience the pleasure of chasing, hunting and capturing the food. This anticipatory joy—prevalent in both animals and humans—probably helped us survive (pursuit of food sources) and ensured our reproduction as a species (pursuit of sexual partners). Anticipatory joy also helps us complete more complex and challenging goals by providing us with the determination, excitement, and grit needed to complete marathons, college or graduate school degrees, or fluency in a foreign language. We enjoy chasing our dreams and also value things more if we have worked for them.

However, our love of a good chase carries with it some dangers to be aware of. Can we avoid the pitfalls of chasing while still harnessing the benefits of anticipatory joy? You bet! Here’s how:


1) Runnin’ for Nothin’

Oftentimes, the things we chase don’t bring us what we want. Dan Gilbert at Harvard has shown that we are terrible at predicting what will or will not make us happy and we often overestimate the amount of happiness something will bring us. Just like a cat who will chase its toy but lose interest as soon as it catches the toy, we sometimes do too.When we finally get what we want—whether it’s winning the lottery, receiving the promotion, or finding the perfect job—we often find that we are not as happy as we thought we would be. Some people love to seduce but as soon as their romantic partner is smitten, they lose interest; others purchase a dream car, and shortly thereafter want to trade it in or regret not having chosen a different model. Our anticipatory joy itself deceives us. We falling prey to habituation or the negativity bias.

2) Risking Health and Happiness

When we don’t find the joy we were expecting, we move on to the next chase…sometimes ad infinitum. Many will go from relationship to relationship, car to car, apartment to apartment and job to job. The chase is like that of a dehydrated man running after a fata morgana – the mirage of an oasis in the desert. In some cases, the chase runs our lives. Research by Michael Treadway has shown that people who are more motivated to work hard also release greater amounts of dopamine in reward areas of the brain. Many overachieving Ivy Leaguers and CEO’s are on the treadmill of workaholism which is just another chase in disguise. Granted, this kind of chase may pay off and result in external rewards such as validation, fame, power or money. However, it also often comes at a high cost: exhaustion, divorce, and health problems. Others succumb retail therapy or get addicted to gambling. Consumed with the chase, they miss out on our life, on being in the present moment with loved ones, on savoring what they already have.

3) Being Taken for a Ride

Marketers play on our anticipatory joy by telling us that we will be happier if we buy or consume certain products. Sales, discounts and special offers are nothing but a play on anticipatory joy. So are casinos and horse-races. Driven by anticipatory joy (that can turn into addiction), recreational drug users often describe their addiction as a constant chase after that elusive first high.


Chasing has its benefits that we can harness with awareness. For example, it can also help us achieve our professional and personal goals. Positive Psychologists agree that there are benefits to having goals, especially when it comes to goals with meaning. A life of meaning is a life well lived. So how can we work with the positive effects of loving a good chase (the willingness to work hard, for example), without falling prey to its possible dangers?

1. Use Anticipatory Joy as a Tool

Be aware of your brain’s love of a chase, and use it as a tool to foster the enthusiasm and energy you need to complete your goals. Rev up your anticipatory joy by looking forward to your end result, whether it is recognition or payment or even the satisfaction of crossing it off of your to-do list. Whatever the source of your anticipatory joy, use it as a motivator but also remember to stay realistic about the fact that the end goal may not bring you the unbounded pleasure you imagine.

2. Maintain Balance and Keep it Real

Learn to maintain a balance. If your anticipatory gets you over-excited, learn to calm yourself down (try breathing exercises, like the ones I describe in this post or meditation whose impact I describe in this post), write in your diary and reason with yourself as you would with a friend, or speak to others who have gone through the experiences you are about to have and can help you realistically assess the amount of joy you will derive from them.

3. Remember What the Research Says about True Happiness

Remember that happiness researchers agree that the key to happiness—after having adequate food and shelter—lies in personal relationships and social connection. Most importantly, recent research shows that some of the deepest feelings of fulfillment don’t actually come from buying, purchasing, acquiring or succeeding at all, but that they actually come from giving.

Many philosophies entertain the intriguing idea that the secret to happiness lies with in us. If you remember anything from this post, take this last question with you: If you yourself are activating your brain’s own reward circuits by thinking of or seeing your desired object (before you even have a chance to possess it), then where is the real source of joy? Is the key to reward or happiness really in that object, or is it in fact inside of you?