Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD...
Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD Medical School, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers.
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The True Meaning of Meditation

relaxation-at-home-picture-id498455562 The True Meaning of Meditation

The American way of meditation is now firmly a part of our lifestyle, and millions of people who have taken up yoga and learned about mindfulness feel quite comfortable meditating. I’m saying “the American way,” because it took scientific research and the promise of improved health to convince the average person that meditation wasn’t mystical, in a society where mystical implies religion, or in this case Hinduism.

 

The acceptance of meditation has been a good thing, but I wonder if its true meaning has taken hold. The situation today feels much like it was thirty years ago, when being serious about meditation meant you were a committed Buddhist or otherwise found the time to devote hours a day to sitting in lotus position. Meditation still has a split personality, one side promising nice benefits like relaxation and lower stress levels, the other side requiring you to get serious about renouncing everyday life and its demands.

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The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes

The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes

The term “microbiome” has become popular in the last decade, and most people now realize that their bodies are populated by an enormous quantity of microbes. Taking every location from the skin to the mouth to the intestinal tract into consideration, the microbiome weighs around 3 lbs., roughly the same as the human brain.

The radical importance of keeping your microbiome balanced and healthy is just beginning to dawn on medical science and biology. If you took a snapshot of a tiny portion of your digestive tract, it would be teeming with an array of life forms almost beyond comprehension (including bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, etc. Since it has long been known that we can’t digest food without the aid of the so-called “flora” in our intestines, the microbiome didn’t spring out of nowhere. What wasn’t realized until recently, however, is its staggering extent.

 

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Is There One Best Path in Life?

book-of-life Is There One Best Path in Life?

Without using the term, everyone has marked out a path in life--a path can be defined as a road map that guides you to a goal. Because every day presents some kind of goal, however small, being on a path is inevitable. It doesn't have to be a conscious choice. Yet at a certain point it dawns on most people that they have larger goals, even lifetime goals, that require long-term planning. At this point choosing a path does become a conscious decision.  

On the surface, it would appear that life presents many paths, because so many goals present themselves: finding the right partner, raising a family, settling on a career, pursuing success, earning more money, saving a nest egg for retirement. These are socially shared goals, to which more can be added, such as finding God or writing a novel. But if you look deeper, everything on this list boils down to one path only.    

This is the path of desire, which is the most natural path, since we all have desires. The impetus that keeps people on the path of desire is universal but also logical. If you want to eat breakfast, make friends, do something you enjoy, or have any other everyday desire, it's logical that expanding your desires and following a bigger dream should serve as a reliable path in life. In fact, because 99% of the human race follows the path of desire, this should prove how defective it is. The problems of poverty, crime, war, hunger, disease, and mental anguish haven't been solved around the world, and one or more of these problems reaches into everyone's life.

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3 Mantras That Can Help You Get Through Any Crisis

3mantras 3 Mantras That Can Help You Get Through Any Crisis

In the face of a crisis—whether the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or a financial setback—the human mind has a tendency to react in conditioned, limited ways that usually only intensify our pain. We may ruminate on the past, getting stuck in feelings of resentment, regret or self-pity. Or we may project into the future, getting caught up in fears and worst-case scenarios. Instead of becoming trapped in the mind’s repetitive and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, you can use the following three mantras to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being.

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Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear

Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear

Everyday life proceeds along no matter how terrible circumstances become. But when traumatic events occur, everyday life doesn't solve them. Time alone cannot heal deep wounds. One after-effect of having something bad happen, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a bitter divorce, the outbreak of war, or being the victim of a crime, is anxiety. Millions of people suffer from anxiety and seek help from the billion-dollar market for tranquilizers or, less legitimately, opioids.

Anxiety often feels mysterious to those who suffer from it. Instead of being linked to a cause, such as being anxious to get to work on time when your car dies in traffic, modern anxiety is often free-floating. It's like a chronic condition that needs no immediate cause or is triggered by tiny causes that normally don't justify a feeling of anxiety.

To get at anxiety, there has to be an understanding of fear, because anxiety is residual fear. Despite the seemingly normal, untroubled activities of everyday life, something deeper down is generating the response of fear. So what is the role of fear as a human emotion? There is more than one function that fear plays, as follows:

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How Real Is the Soul?

How Real Is the Soul? How Real Is the Soul?

Depending on which polls you consult, more than half of Americans and up to 67% believe that a person's soul goes to heaven or hell after death. This belief seems unusually strong considering that more and more Americans no longer identify with a fixed religion. "I'm not religious, but I’m spiritual" has become a common sentiment, and yet the idea of the soul continues to hold its place. One might even say it outstrips God as a matter of belief.

Look at how deeply embedded the word "soul" is in our culture, from soul music to soul searching. Once a word takes old, so does the concept it represents. To a pure rationalist, there's no reason to say that the gospels sung in African American churches are more soulful than a Beethoven symphony. When someone searches his soul, the psychological reality is that he is usually just consulting his conscience or weighing issues of right and wrong that came from childhood upbringing.

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Why Did We Create God?

Why Did We Create God? Why Did We Create God?

There is no denying that the different versions of God in world religions has led to historical violence and conflict, which humanitarians have tried to end by saying that there is only one God, implying that such conflicts are pointless. But is there only one God? The conflicting versions of God all attempt to grasp God in reality, so every version actually is God for that religion.

Atheists claim that all of these versions are fictional to begin with, but this misses the point. Human beings have experienced the spiritual dimension of life for as long as history can tell. The need for God grew out of the same need as modern science: to explain a fundamental aspect of Nature. The problem is that there is a gap between this need for explanations and the answers arrived at.

In this gap creativity went to work. The gods and God are human creations, constructs of the mind. Faced with unanswerable dilemmas the human mind went to work to fashion a supernatural dimension presided over by a ruler, or rulers, who stand in for rulers here on Earth, being human, emotional, unpredictable, beautiful, terrible, merciful, vengeful--pick any human trait and you can match it to some version of God worshipped now or in the past. The rational God of Thomas Jefferson's enlightened God is a projection of his ideal human portrayed on a superhuman scale, just as Jehovah, the complete opposite of Jefferson's God, was an idealized projection by ancient rabbis.

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How to Really Be Yourself

How to Really Be Yourself How to Really Be Yourself

If you think about being yourself, what does that mean? If asked, "Do you like being who you are?" not everyone would say yes--some people dislike themselves. This can be the product of low self-esteem or perhaps a deep sense of guilt. Liking yourself doesn't have to occur all the time, however. There are times when you behave in ways you aren't proud of and say things you wish you could take back. Yet being yourself is more mysterious than like or dislike.


To be yourself, you have to know who you are. "I" isn't simple and in many ways is very elusive. A two-year-old writing on the walls with crayon is being herself, and so is a middle-school bully tormenting a classmate on social media. Running wild, acting on your worst impulses, and flouting all the normal rules are behaviors worth suppressing. But if you are candid about yourself, such impulses exist inside you.


If you take a look at how your mind operates, you'll quickly realize that many agendas compete for your attention. In certain situations you call upon a wide range of emotions that want to be expressed. You act differently at work than at home. Habit, memory, and old conditioning compete over your attention. these agendas have their own claims, and there has to be a decision-maker and overseer who chooses which persona to adopt, which feelings to suppress, which behavior is appropriate at any given moment.

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As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

As We Evolve, Do We Need God? As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

We recently participated in a public debate on the proposition "The more we evolve, the less we need God." The results were clearly in favor of the proposition against the stance we took. This was so amongst both the live audience and the online audience.

The cerebral cortex, the most recent part of the human brain to evolve, hasn't changed for more than ten thousand years. The writers of the world's ancient spiritual texts used the same brain as modern people, and since the world's religions revere these ancient texts, we accept that the Ten Commandments and the Four Noble truths of Buddhism came from minds whose processes we'd recognize today, however dissimilar the cultures of ancient Judea and India.

It must be cultural evolution that is relevant, and of course our modern secular culture has moved away from the age of faith. Rationalism seems to dominate our lives, and when we read of religious fanaticism, we feel that such issues belong to people living outside the reach of a modern secular society. Few people seeing news on TV of an attack in Paris or London feel an impulse to fight back by re-energizing their own religious beliefs. Being secular can easily feed the belief that one has evolved beyond God, religion, dogma, and the whole rigmarole.

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Is Wholeness the Secret of Well-Being?

deepak-chopra-is-wholeness-the-secret-of-wellbeing Is Wholeness the Secret of Well-Being?

Part of being human is that happiness is difficult. We are too complex for a cut-and-dried answer to work. There have been broad trends, however, over the course of time. Devotion to God, the pursuit of reason, getting rich, going to a therapist—all the possible avenues for achieving happiness have been explored, and in modern society each solution remains open. No one is locked into another person’s way to find happiness.


But that’s not the same as claiming that all of these various approaches have worked—there is a good possibility, in fact, that none has. That’s the position taken by a wide swath of teachers and guides, most of them classified as “spiritual,” who declare that living in the state of separation is the root cause of suffering. Separation is also known as duality, and so in recent years a new rubric, nondualism, has been used to embrace philosophers, therapists, spiritual teachers, and general writers who promote wholeness as the secret of true, lasting well-being.


In this post we’ll look at the nondual argument through an overview of how things stand in the wellness movement and particularly the evidence in biomedical literature that might offer scientific evidence for nondual claims.

 
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It's Time for Science to Accept Consciousness

Deepak-Chopra-Its-Time-For-Science-to-Accept-Consciousness

Although it takes place outside the headlines, even those that deal with science, a heated debate is occurring about mind and matter. On onside is a camp of so-called physicalists, formerly known as materialists, who hold fast to the assumption that any and all phenomena in nature can be reduced to physical processes and the interaction of objects (atoms, subatomic particles, etc.) --these for the building blocks of the universe. On the other side is no single camp but a mixed assortment of skeptics who hold that at least one natural phenomenon--the human mind--cannot be explained physically.


When one explanation (the physicalist) is supported by the weight of highly successful theories in physics, biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, and the other side has no accepted theory on its side, the debate seems totally unequal. But in David versus Goliath battles, be careful of rooting for Goliath. The possibility of a science of consciousness, which would involve a thorough explanation of mind and how it relates to matter, can't begin until the obstacles in its path are removed and old accepted assumptions are overturned.


That has already begun, on all fronts. In physics, the essential problem of how something came out of nothing (i.e., the big bang coming out of the quantum vacuum state) stymies cosmologists, while at the microscopic level the same mystery, this time involving subatomic particles emerge from the virtual state, is equally baffling. In biology the prevailing Darwinism cannot explain the quantum leap made, with astonishing rapidity, by Homo sapiens in terms of reasoning, creativity, language, our use of concepts as opposed to instincts, tool-making, and racial characteristics.


We are the offspring of the newest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, and yet there is no causal connection between its evolution and the primal Darwinian need to survive. This is evident by the survival of a hundred primate species lacking a higher brain, reasoning, tool-making, concepts, etc. Finally, in neuroscience and biochemistry, there is zero connection between nerve cells, and their chemical components, and mind. Unless someone can locate the point in time when molecules learned to think, the current assumption that the brain is doing the thinking has no solid footing.

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The Eternal Feminine Brings Wholeness

The Eternal Feminine Brings Wholeness

A genuine social upheaval has begun, its theme is the empowerment of women. Old attitudes that have resulted in many kinds of unfairness are being challenged. The long-suppressed outrage of sexual harassment has been exposed to the light of day. No one with a heart and a conscience can do anything but respond with encouragement. It’s about time.

Rising from a position of weakness to become stronger, turning old wounds into a source of healing—these are important changes in anyone’s life. The eternal feminine has been a running thread in human culture for thousands of years, but each generation has to reinterpret it, and at the moment, embedded in a secular society where daily demands and distractions are the rule, envisioning the eternal feminine requires going deeper into our self-awareness.

 


Everyone’s source is pure awareness, which has no gender. When pure awareness manifests into creation, gender isn’t in evidence, either. When you wake up from deep sleep and become aware of your existence, the experience has no labels. The issues of masculine and feminine enter in a social context, defined by your beliefs, attitudes, and mental conditioning. To be a woman is to be a creation of many factors, going far beyond the physiological.

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Bring Prevention Back from the Brink

deepak-chopra-Bringing-preventative-medicine-back-from-the-brink

A crucial fact about American medicine goes largely ignored, even by doctors. Dollar for dollar, more people will gain years of healthy lifespan from prevention than from drugs or surgery. We don’t tend to think that prevention costs money. Once you learn that cigarettes cause lung cancer, you can decide not to smoke. The choice is free if you were a non-smoker to begin with. If you get up off the couch and start a brisk walking program to help prevent heart disease, that choice also doesn’t cost a penny.

What isn’t free, however, is getting information out there. Poor and less educated Americans are known to have a higher prevalence of major lifestyle disorders like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. The reverse is also true: better lifestyle choices are made by the affluent and well educated.

You can’t prevent what you don’t know about. That makes it essential that we keep funding the most dollar-wise education for physicians so that young residents can go on to spearhead prevention programs. America cannot continue to rely on a reactionary stance of simply treating health issues. It must refocus its efforts and investments in prevention. The surgery to treat a lung cancer patient is highly unlikely to succeed and will be very expensive. Informing a middle-school classroom about the risks of smoking potentially saves lives at a fraction of the cost.

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How to Be In Control of Your Wellness

deepak-chopra-how-to-be-in-control-of-your-wellness-final

Although most people still view being sick in terms of germs, catching a cold, and getting a flu shot, the question of who gets sick and who stays well is far more complex. Everyone is exposed to thousands of microbes a day, and some of these are disease-causing pathogens. But we have immunity to a wide range of pathogens, and although sickness is fended off by the cells of the immune system, staying well involves the whole person.

There is a medical concept known as “control by the host,” which focuses on how much of staying well is an internal process that calls upon both mind and body. The invisible roots of lifelong wellness turn out to be surprising. For example, researchers at the University of Texas Medical School looked at mortality rates among a group of men and women who had received open heart surgery, including heart bypass and replacement of the aortic valve. If you take the routine medical approach, the reason someone dies six months after open heart surgery while someone else doesn’t must come down to a physical difference. But the team headed by Dr. Thomas Oxman took an unorthodox approach. They asked these patients two questions about their social situation: Do you participate regularly in organized social groups? Do you draw strength and comfort from your religion or spiritual faith?

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The Best Strategy to Combat Aging

deepak-chopra-best-strategy-to-combat-aging

When people think about growing old, they blame the passage of time—the years roll by, and the body stops looking younger year by year. But the latest science disputes this view. A person ages because the cells in their body age, and cells live only in the present. This is one reason memory remains such a mystery. Brain cells function through electrochemical activity that occurs the instant a chemical reaction or electrical impulse is able to occur. There are no pauses to think about reacting; if the potential is there, the action must follow.

 

Whatever a brain cell does, it can’t go back to the past. So how do we seem to go back into the past when we remember a childhood birthday party or our first kiss? No one knows, but when the answer is found, it won’t involve time travel, either forward or backward. If you expand this to every cell in the body, they too must function instantly in the present moment when any two molecules interact. So the problem of aging can be stated as the gap between how a cell lives and how a person lives. As people, we repeat the past, get stuck in old habits, cling to stubborn beliefs, fear the future, and in general occupy mental states that are not in the now.


If you can return to the now, you close the gap between your life and the life of your cells, and by doing this, you can prevent aging or even reverse it. Aging isn’t one thing but a complex of possibilities. Which possibilities get triggered is infinitely complicated, but no one has ever shown that any symptoms of aging must occur.


Even though we can all tick off the disagreeable signs of growing old—creaky joints, wrinkled skin, loss of energy, erratic sleep, declining memory, and so on—there is someone who has actually improved as they aged in each of these areas, except perhaps for wrinkles. However unusual, there are individuals who retain limberness, energy, good sleep, mobility, and memory.
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Welcome to the Society for the Suppression of Curiosity

deepak-chopra-suppression-of-curiosity

The secular world is built upon science, which overturned the world of faith. Exchanging spiritual beliefs for objective facts looks like a clear-cut choice, but it isn't. In all our lives there are values like compassion and loving kindness that are not scientific, and so everyday life straddles two worlds. In one world having a compassionate heart means something important. In the other compassion has no meaning unless it can be reduced to data on a brain scan.

 
A mature person can live in both worlds comfortably, because they don't need to clash. Dr. Francis Collins is a physician and geneticist who is the head of the National Institutes of Health, but he also happens to be a devout Christian who has written movingly about his religious awakening. Besides straddling two worlds, which we all do, Collins has explored them both, in keeping with his bent for inner and outer discovery.

  

Yet some religionists can only tolerate one view of life, and they insist on fundamentalist beliefs, such as the belief that God created human beings in their present form and reject all scientific claims to the contrary. In the other world, some science-minded people cannot tolerate faith and mystery, and they reject any thing that cannot be proven as experimental fact.

 

In both cases, there is a total suppression of curiosity and a rigid insistence on "right think," to adopt the Orwellian term for beliefs enforced by punishment from higher up.

 

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A Better Answer to Chronic Stress

Deepak-Chopra-a-better-answer-to-chronic-stress

If an epidemic is defined as a disease that affects whole populations without having a medical cure, then the epidemic of modern life is stress. Itself not a disease, stress instead leads to a breakdown in the body's internal balance, or homeostasis, and from that point onward, if the stress isn't relieved, damage occurs from within. Ironically, most modern people in a developed country do not experience acute stress, the kind that triggers a full-blown fight-or-flight response. There is no battlefront, civil war, rampant violent crime, or struggle over food and water to contend with.

Our epidemic is silent and hidden, in the form of low-level chronic stress. The natural purpose of the body's stress response is to trigger heightened alertness and energy for a short period, a matter of minutes or at most an hour, when fighting or fleeing is a matter of survival. When stress becomes chronic, a "normal" way of life that people believe they have adapted to, stress hormones become a drip-drip in the background of the physiology, and over time, three stages of damage begin to appear:

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Fighting a Hidden Enemy: Inflammation

deepak-chopra-fighting-a-hidden-enemy-inflammation

Inflammation has always been a medical mystery, but now it has become an enemy of long-term health. On the one hand, when your skin turns red, swollen, and painful after you burn yourself, which triggers acute inflammation, the response is normal and beneficial. Extra red blood cells, immune cells, and anti-oxidants are rushing to the wounded site to heal it. But carried too far, inflammation can be fatal, as when someone is too burned to recover.


Only in the past few decades has it dawned that low-level chronic inflammation, which usually goes completely unnoticed plays a part in many lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Chemicals known as inflammation markers can enter the bloodstream in various ways: from the intestinal tract (so-called leaky gut), as a reaction to infection, or through the action of the immune system in other internal ways. The slow drip, drip of inflammatory markers can take years to create major impairment, which means that each person must tailor his lifestyle to counter them.

 


Diet alone isn’t enough to keep chronic low-level inflammation at bay, but it’s a good start. By adopting an anti-inflammation diet, you aim at two positive results: keeping the micro-organisms in your intestines healthy and flourishing, and thereby preventing the seepage of toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. There is also the indirect benefit that a healthy digestive system sends signals of wellbeing along the vagus nerve to the heart and brain.

 
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How to Be Your Own Medical Advocate

Deepak-Chopra-How-to-Be-your-own-medical-advocate

When the average person goes to the doctor, shows up at the ER, or enters the hospital, the possibility of controlling what happens next is minimal. We put ourselves in the hands of the medical machine, which in reality rests upon individual people—doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and so on. Human behavior involves lapses and mistakes, and these get magnified in medical care, where misreading a patient’s chart or failing to notice a specific symptom can be a matter of life and death. The riskiness of high-tech medicine like gene therapy and toxic cancer treatments is dramatically increased because there is a wider range of mistakes the more complex any treatment is. To be fair, doctors do their utmost to save patients who would have been left to die a generation ago, but they are successful only a percentage of the time.


Risk and mistakes go together, but the general public has limited knowledge of the disturbing facts:

• Medical errors are estimated to cause up to 440,000 deaths per year in U.S. hospitals alone. It is widely believed that this figure could be grossly inaccurate, because countless mistakes go unreported—death reports offer only the immediate cause, and many doctors band together to protect the reputation of their profession.

• The total direct expense of “adverse events,” as medical mistakes are known, is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

• Indirect expenses such as lost economic productivity from premature death and unnecessary illness exceeds $1 trillion per year.

 
Statistics barely touch upon the fear involved when any patient thinks about being at the wrong end of a medical mistake. What the patient is all too aware of is the doctor visit that goes by in the blink of an eye. A 2007 analysis of optimal primary-care visits found that they last 16 minutes on average. From 1 to 5 minutes is spent discussing each topic that’s raised. This figure is at the high end of estimates, given that according to other studies, the actual face-to-face time spent with a doctor or other health-care provider comes down to 7 minutes on average. Doctors place the primary blame on increasing demands for them to fill out medical reports and detailed insurance claims. Patients tend to believe that doctors want to cram in as many paying customers as they can, or simply that the patient as a person doesn’t matter very much.
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How to Be Good - A Very Tough Problem

How to Be Good - A Very Tough Problem

At the turn of a new year it’s natural to be reflective about the state of the world, a gloomy process this year. The world is filled with bad actors, who are easy to condemn. But complaining about them does us very little good, while a great deal of good can be done by flipping the coin and asking what it takes to be good.

 

To have a grounded sense of self, it’s necessary to feel that you are a good person. People who consider themselves bad are generally defeated and abused, wracked with guilt and shame. So where does goodness come from? This turns out to be one of the toughest problems tackled by religion, philosophy, and now science. Finding a scientific way to make people act morally is a long-standing dream going back at least two centuries when Utilitarians tried to base morality on a calculus of pleasure and pain. The notion that making goodness a pleasant experience seemed fruitful, especially combined with painful punishments when someone disobeys the moral rules.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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