Self-improvement


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Addiction Ageing and death Childhood and adolescence Cognition and intelligence Consciousness and altered states Family life Gender and identity Language and linguistics Life stages Love and friendship Mental health Mood and emotion Neurodiversity Neuroscience Personality Pleasure and pain Psychiatry and psychotherapy Self-improvement Sex and sexuality Sleep and dreams Social psychology Spirituality Teaching and learning Technology and the self Wellbeing

Photo by Raymond Depardon/Magnum

Essay/
Meaning and the good life
Indifference is a power

As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity

Lary Wallace

Renaissance man: Portrait of a Young Gentleman in His Studio by Lorenzo Lotto, c. 1530. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice. Photo by Corbis

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Cognition and intelligence
Master of many trades

Our age reveres the specialist but humans are natural polymaths, at our best when we turn our minds to many things

Robert Twigger

Is less more? Photo by Thom Atkinson/Gallery Stock

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Food and drink
One week, no food

Intrigued by the buzz around medical fasting, I tried it. A rollercoaster of boredom and energy ensued

S Abbas Raza

Photo by Frederick Florin/AP/Getty

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Teaching and learning
The growth mindset problem

A generation of schoolchildren is being exhorted to believe in their brain’s elasticity. Does it really help them learn?

Carl Hendrick

Simone Harvey studies in front of the Valley Life Sciences Building at the University of California at Berkeley, 12 May 2014. Photo by Noah Berger/Reuters
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Cognition and intelligence
Getting smarter

Brain-training games won’t boost your IQ, but a host of strategies can improve your cognitive abilities one piece at a time

Jeffrey M Zacks

Photo by Eve Arold/Magnum
Essay/
Self-improvement
Don’t think too positive

Fantasies about the future have a troubling effect on achieving actual goals. If positive thinking doesn’t work, what does?

Gabriele Oettingen

Classic /Meaning and the good life
CLASSIC

On the happy life

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 64 CE

With a new introduction and commentary by Massimo Pigliucci

‘You never stop grieving...’ Laurent Fignon lost the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds after more than 3000 km of racing. Photo by Jean-Yves Ruszniewski/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Essay/
Self-improvement
Don’t beat yourself up

Learning to be kind to yourself when you (inevitably) make mistakes could have a remarkable effect on your happiness

Mark Leary

Paul Gauguin Self Portrait with Halo and Snake (1889). Oil on board. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington/Wikipedia

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Change becomes you

Being the same person over time is not about holding on to every aspect of your current self but about changing purposefully

Kevin Tobia

Illustration by Fumitake Uchida

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Consciousness and altered states
Into the deep

Just when you crave one more sensual hit, the void of the float tank stops time, strips ego and unleashes the mind

M M Owen

Photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters

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Teaching and learning
The elastic brain

A child’s brain can master anything from language to music. Can neuroscience extend that genius across the lifespan?

Rebecca Boyle

 Photo by Winfield Parks/National Geographic

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Dance and theatre
The music in you

You might not be a virtuoso, but you have remarkable music abilities. You just don’t know about them yet

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Relax! You'll get there. Photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum

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Pleasure and pain
When it’s good to be bad

The relentless pursuit of success is valorised in our culture, but taking the long way around is often the best

Cody Delistraty

Detail from Paul Gauguin’s Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (1897). Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Wikipedia

Essay/
History of ideas
What are we?

On Paul Gauguin, authenticity and the midlife crisis: how the philosopher Bernard Williams dramatised moral luck

Daniel Callcut

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty
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Mood and emotion
Saved by the book

Self-help books might have a reputation for nonsense but the best of them are more effective than medication or therapy

Elizabeth Svoboda

Illustration by Sarah Maycock

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Wellbeing
The visitor

Solitude is enlightening but if it does not lead us back to society, it can become a spiritual dead end

John Burnside

Found in translation; a girl writes on the blackboard "C'est la rentrée". Photo by Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty

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Language and linguistics
Speaking in tongues

In a world that converses only in English, we’ll talk only of banal things: that’s why I want my children to be bilingual

Ben Faccini