If you ask the average person “Do you know your true self?” you might prompt in him or her a wave of anxiety. And no wonder. From the moment we’re born we are constantly told “to be authentic,” “you do you” and “you are one of a kind.” But studies show that people struggle to define their real selves (even to themselves). We seem to identify with, and want to present to the world, the most admirable versions of ourselves— the kindest, the most generous and compassionate—but where does that leave the less savory (read: human) aspects of our personality? Rather than spiraling into a pit of shame about our nonvirtuous character traits, Scott Barry Kaufman advises in “Authenticity under Fire” that we embrace the whole package: the good, the bad, the ugly. Only then can we take true stock of our true selves.
Elsewhere in this issue, Giovanni Sabato does a straight-faced examination of the history of science on why humans enjoy humor (see “What’s So Funny? The Science of Why We Laugh”). And Caterina Gawrilow and Sara Goudarzi dig into whether those with ADHD have the gift of creative thinking (see “Are People with ADHD More Creative?”). As always, we hope you enjoy!