The Greeks are said to have inscribed “Know Thyself ” on their ancient temples, inviting their people to take a moment and question their motivations and their actions on occasion.
The pursuit of self-knowledge is at the heart of most religions and philosophical pursuits across the world. It seems that an unfortunate side effect of the brain’s marvelous ability to question everything is the brain’s ability to question itself.
“Who am I? Why do I do the things I do? Can I change?”
These are questions that inevitably plague us all in one form or another. And while I don’t believe there’s ever a permanent answer to any of them, we can become better at investigating ourselves.
(That sounded kind of dirty.)
It turns out that psychology has uncovered numerous ways in which our beliefs about ourselves affect not only our behaviors but our successes in this world. People who believe they are smarter, actually do better on tests, even though they aren’t smarter or haven’t studied any more. People who believe they are given an energy drink are able to lift more weight than normal, even though the drink they were given contained nothing. People who believe they …