For over a century, philosophers and psychologists have explored what it means to tap into your authentic self and put yourself in the best position to flourish. This process has tended to involve reflection, wisdom and separating a “true” self from a fake one, and then acting on these insights.

The problem with this approach? As University of Florida psychologist Matthew Baldwin explains, people are far more likely to avoid this sort of deep thinking than embrace it. And even when we do try to understand ourselves, our introspection abilities aren’t very good.

Recapping a series of studies, Baldwin shows how our feelings – rather than our thoughts – may offer a better road map for developing our authentic selves.

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Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

Studies show that feelings of ease and comfort in a given situation – what psychologists call ‘fluency’ – are tied to feelings of authenticity. Tara Moore/Getty Images

What the new science of authenticity says about discovering your true self

Matthew Baldwin, University of Florida

What if cultivating your authentic self doesn’t involve self-reflection, but instead means focusing on what feels good and natural?

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