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Podcast #332: What Does It Mean to Be Authentic? | The Art of Manliness

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We live in a world that puts a premium on being “authentic” and “showing your true self.”

But what exactly is your authentic and true self?

For example, is it your natural tendency to be a curmudgeon, or your concerted effort to be kind and generous?

Which one is the “real” you?

My guest today has grappled with those questions for most of his career as a psychologist, with a focus on personality research. His name is Brian Little and he’s the author of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, as well as the recently published book, Who Are You, Really?

Today on the show, Brian and I have a fascinating discussion on the world of personality science that will leave you wondering who you really are. We begin our conversation discussing the various factors that influence our personalities, including genetics, social environments, and self-direction. Brian then digs into the debate on whether our personalities are set in stone or if they can change, even into old age. We then discuss whether personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs, actually tell you anything about your personality.

We end our conversation discussing how simply changing environments can change our personalities, how we can willfully change them ourselves, and what the “real” you actually is.

You’re in for an enlightening existential conversation that also provides actionable insights on how you can live a more flourishing life.
Show Highlights

What exactly is personality, as defined by science?
The ancient history and study of personality
The interplay of nature and nurture when it comes to personality
What is a personal construct?
“Person” specialists vs. “thing” specialists, and how men and women differ here
Do personality tests actually tell us anything useful?
The Big Five personality traits — the O.C.E.A.N. acronym
The importance of conscientiousness
What are the benefits downsides of being neurotic?
Introversion vs extroversion
How situations and environments shape our personality, and how that differs from person to person
What are “free traits”?
Using free traits to help us with our core personal projects
Why acting out of character isn’t always a bad thing
Using “restorative niches” to recover from acting out of character
What authenticity really means when it comes to personality
The three forms of authenticity — biogenic, sociogenic, and idiogenic


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