Self Awareness Articles 2016 - 2017

What Is a 'Self'? Here Are All the Possibilities   Live Science - December 7, 2016

After speaking with multiple philosophers about the realm of possibilities that could explicate, enhance or eliminate the "self," I am able to sum up this broad, yet well-sculpted landscape with 10 possible explanations.

1. Illusion: The self is not real; it is an artificial construct of competing neural systems seeking to make sense of myriad streams of inner information - a trick of the brain.

2. Phenomenal subjectivity:The self is real in that the subject has authentic felt experiences that compose a coherent whole, but the self remains the product of brain neurophysiology and neurochemistry functioning much as we know it (with nothing else needed, certainly nothing exotic).

3. Patterns of information:The self is a highly complex, highly particular array of properties and relationships that can be expressed in some kind of formalized manner (perhaps featuring causal connections and perhaps reproducible beyond biological brains in artificial brains - meaning the self could be uploaded into a nonbiological substrate).

4. Weak emergence:The self is the product of interacting brain mechanisms, both at the microscopic neuronal level and at the macroscopic brain systems level. Given future neuroscience, eventually the self will be predictable from the brain alone; in other words, brain activity alone could still explain the self entirely.

5. Strong emergence:The self is a profoundly new thing that comes into existence as a product of underlying brain activities alone, but no matter how advanced neuroscience becomes, the self can never be predicted from these underlying brain activities, not even in principle.

6. Existential unity: The self is an existentially unified whole in that its parts are incapable of separate existence, and that successive mental states of the same self are inextricably bound through some kind of deep coherence (perhaps quantum-based, perhaps something else - but still of a kind that could count as "physical").

7. Special assembly of new force or structure:The self is a particular organization of a new force or structure in nature that generates or enables consciousness in an enhanced physical world; for example, "panpsychism," where consciousness is a non-reducible feature of every particle (each having inherent proto-consciousness), or "integrated information theory," where consciousness is an independent, nonreducible organization of reality (perhaps a different dimension of reality).

8. Nonphysical local consciousness:The self, in part, is independent of the physical world/body/brain and requires some kind of nonphysical essence - perhaps a new nonphysical feature of reality and perhaps accessible via parapsychology/ESP.

9. Nonphysical god-created consciousness:The self is what the creator designed to be the essence of human beings (and perhaps of other beings as well) by using a kind of nonphysical substance - a "soul" or "spirit" (whose properties remain in interminable dispute). This soul/spirit can be either a required component of consciousness that complements the brain or an independent nonphysical, concrete existing thing that is inherently conscious and uses or manipulates the brain.

10. Nonphysical cosmic consciousness:The self, as a whole, is independent of the physical world/body/brain and derived from an all-pervading cosmic consciousness, which is ultimate reality, the fundamental progenitor of all physical existence.

12 Things I've Learned About Life After 6 Years In New York City   Huffington Post - November 2, 2016

1. It's a who-you-know world.
2. You can find value in every job, no matter how monotonous.
3. Treat your colleagues nicely.
4. Trust your first instincts.
5. Show interest in others.
6. Learn to stand on your own two feet.
7. Don't take it personally ... dating.
8. Making small talk with strangers isn't that hard.
9. There's other ways to spend your weekends than boozing and brunching.
10. Giving back rocks.
11. Life isn't linear, and that's OK.
12. People enter - and leave - your life for a reason.

Mental Toll of Bad Jobs Lasts Decades   Live Science - August 23, 2016

If your job causes stress and anxiety in your life, it may seem obvious that it may be bad for your health. But how does your history of job satisfaction affect your health years down the line? A new study shows that people who had low levels of job satisfaction in their 20s and 30s may have an increased risk of mental health problems in their 40s.

10 Science-Backed Ways Your Best Friend Improves Your Life   Huffington Post - June 8, 2016

1. Best friends reduce stress.
2. They make you feel a sense of belonging.
3. They help you manage health issues.
4. Friends can help you live longer.
5. They push you to practice more self-acceptance.
6. Honest conversations with them can improve your wellbeing.
7. They make difficult challenges seem less daunting.
8. BFFs call you out on your wrongdoings.
9. They improve your attitude at work.
10. They genuinely make you a happier human.

7 Ways Spring Affects Your Mood   Huffington Post - April 2, 2016

1. Being outdoors in the sun is linked with a mood boost...
2. ... But it may not be that way later in the summer.
3. You're generally happier when the days are longer.
4. However, some people are more susceptible to SAD during the summer.
5. Warm temperatures may put you in the mood.
6. You may exercise more during the spring.
7. Warm weather may make you more inventive.

Study shows people are capable of multiple, simultaneous life changes   Science Daily - March 25, 2016

People are capable of multiple, simultaneous life changes, a new study suggests. Participants in the study were tested on a variety of factors, including physical fitness, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, working memory capacity, reading comprehension and more. They also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their brains to examine areas known to be associated with a range of cognitive functions. Let's say you've decided to make some changes in your life. You're out of shape, your mind wanders, your self-esteem is wavering, and you have no idea what you just read. So you decide to focus on one thing - losing weight, maybe - and tackle the other issues later. You don't want to take on too much at once, right?

11 Signs of a Truly Authentic Person   Huffington Post - March 16, 2016
In the last week or two, the topic of authenticity has been coming up in my life. The discussion of authenticity came up a couple times in a class and then it came up again during a therapy session. This led me to sit back and ask myself: What actually constitutes a truly authentic person?

1 - They recognize the emptiness in material things
2 - They recognize that experiences make their lives richer
3 - They truly listen to others
4 - They express their true thoughts, feelings and views unapologetically
5 - They're not out to please people
6 - They see value in giving love to others
7 - They love themselves
8 - They are willing to see and acknowledge their own faults
9 - They understand that we are all unique -- and that's okay!
10 - They take responsibility for their lives
11 - They're connected to their own inner guide

Give and Take for a Marriage That Lasts   Huffington Post - March 16, 2016
With a white Styrofoam cup in hand, he bends over and carefully spoons ice chips into her mouth, her lips parched and quivering. A few pieces drop off the plastic utensil onto her bare collarbone, exposed where the hospital gown has slipped off a bony shoulder.

Is It Normal to Wake Up at Night?   Huffington Post - March 16, 2016
It's common to wake up during sleep. In fact, most people wake two or three times during the night. We can all remember a time, when as teenagers or young children, sleep was a continuous period of unawareness or oblivion that lasted between eight or nine hours, or even longer. However, that is not normal adult sleep. Indeed, once we pass our teens, sleep tends to be lighter and awakenings during sleep more frequent. In women by the age of 50, it's normal to wake 3-4 times per night.

Why Early Risers Tend To Be Healthier   Huffington Post - March 16, 2016
In a report on sleep and nutrition released exclusively to The Huffington Post, Jawbone found that users who went to bed at a consistent time every night -- a time earlier than 11 p.m., that is -- logged fewer calories and ate more nutritious food. In contrast, "night owls" who go to bed between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. tend to consume more caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, processed carbs, processed meats and saturated fats than their "early bird" counterparts.

Are You a True Altruist or Driven by Self-Interest? Brain Scan May Give Verdict   Epoch Times - March 4, 2016
The reason why we help others at a cost to ourselves has long presented a puzzle for scientists. Why do some of us do it more than others? And are we doing it because we are truly moved by the suffering of others or simply because we feel we ought to return a favor or even get something in return? Looking at behavior alone, it can be hard to tell. Both empathy and the principle of reciprocity - giving to return a favor or expecting others to do so - are proposed explanations for altruism which have been impossible to separate until now.

Altruism is an expression of concern for the welfare of others without any obvious benefit or motivation on the part of the individual expressing the concern...

How to Boost Your Creativity   Huffington Post - February 21, 2016

Do you sometimes feel like you're surrounded by creative people--musicians, writers, artists, builders, inventors - but have no muse of your own? Not true. We are all creative. Work in a coffee shop. Go for a walk. Get a hobby. Daydream. Embrace the Mess. Spend time in another country.

Useful Ways to Choose the Right Direction in Life (Without Wasting a Bunch of Time)   Huffington Post - February 21, 2016
Start With What You Hate
Figure out if you're an A, B, or C player
Go Outside and Look At The Stars At Night
Use 90 Day Sprints
Interview Ten People Who Are Already Doing What You Want To Do
Create A Worldview Statement
The Regret Test
The Airport Test
Move Directly In The Direction Of Fear And Self-Doubt
Take Action

Science Finds New Way to Overcome Your Performance Anxiety   Live Science - February 1, 2016

If the thought of a solo recital gives you the jitters, instead of picturing everyone in the audience naked, try imagining a positive scenario like an encouraging audience or the sound of applause. A new study finds that these types of thoughts might be helpful in reducing anxiety about slipping up in front of an audience. When performing in front of a crowd, people are typically hyperaware of others observing them. Now, scientists have found that when the part of the brain that notices others judging is activated, another region that controls fine sensorimotor skills shuts down. This area, called the inferior parietal cortex, is to blame when people tense up and stumble while performing complex tasks, such as playing the piano, in front of an audience.

Why a walk in the woods really does help your body and your soul   - February 1, 2016
For more than 20 years, scientists have been trying to determine the mechanisms by which exposure to biodiversity improves health. Japanese scientists pioneered the search when they travelled to the island of Yakushima, famous for its biodiversity. The Japanese already had a name for the experience of well-being in nature: shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing".

7 Ways To Make Therapy More Affordable   Huffington Post - January 25, 2016

Depending on where you live and what kind of insurance you have, the price can be upwards of $80 to $200 for one 45- to 60-minute session. But here's the truth: Therapy doesn't have to expensive in order to work. There are multiple options to get the help and treatment you deserve -- and getting that help is crucial.
1. Try sliding scale therapy.
2. Look into university counseling centers.
3. Research free therapy options.
4. Look into participating in research studies.
5. Go to a community-based organization.
6. Try group therapy.
7. Look into an online program.

7 Tips to Avoid Getting Sucked Into Distraction   Epoch Times - January 11, 2016

1. Start Paying More Attention to Your Attention.
2. Remove Temptation.
3. Do a Visualization Exercise.
4. Commit to Doing Just One Thing at a Time.
5. Manage Your Willpower the Right Way.
6. Establish a ÔTrigger' That Forces You to Do a Quick Internal Check in With Yourself.
7. Think About Your Own Death. (Not Kidding.)

9 Ways To Turn Your Commute Into 'Me Time'   Huffington Post - January 4, 2016
The average American takes about 26 minutes a day to commute to work one way (that's 52 minutes in total), but those numbers vary from city to city. Unfortunately, research shows that these commutes will literally be the death of us. People who commute 90 minutes or more are more likely to have back and neck pain, and long commute times also up your blood pressure and anxiety levels. Then there's also the time suck of it all. If you're commuting, that means you're not spending time with family, exercising or doing other things that make you healthy and happy.
1. Audiobooks
2. Podcasts
3. Music playlists
4. Meditate and do breathing exercises
5. Journal
6. Take a nap
7. Alternate bursts of speed-walking with a more leisurely pace.
8. Do lunges and side steps.
9. Prancercise.