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Who Are You?

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Girl_with_sunThe answer to this big question is comparatively easy—though we have a tendency to complicate it.

Religion says you are made in God's image. Science says you are composed of twenty-five chemicals. While the scientific answer is physically true, it doesn't answer the individual question of "Who are you?" as you are obviously very different from a jar containing these chemicals!

Despite us all being comprised of these same basic elements, we are obviously very different from each other.

There are a range of reasons for this difference, starting with the way these elements are put together. Physically, you are these chemicals as put together by your genes—bits from your mother, parts of your father, some of your grandparents, as well as how you exercise (or don't exercise). Mentally, you are what you think and do: with your thoughts stemming from what you have experienced and learned or been told. The mixing and interaction of these physical and mental aspects creates a huge variety of people and personalities. Each time a person is born, a different individual grows.

Another reason for our differences is due to the way energy is added to this mix. For example, while we all have the same chemicals, bodies with similar brains with a similar number of nerves in each, the way these nerves are connected is different in each of us. The experiences, learnings and resulting nerve connections are unique and are what make you who you are. They form your character and personality.

Science can't specifically tell you precisely how your character and personality works, but we each know we have one that stares back from the mirror each day. Ask a scientist to prove your personality, to show you the formula for it. They can't. Your character cannot be easily seen, even described or its location pinpointed in scientific terms—but it exists and certainly impacts you and the world.

Your character didn't come preassembled but was formed by life, by your experiences, by learning, by memories, by your electromagnetic circuits, says Joseph LeDoux, neurologist and author of the benchmark book on how your brain works, Synaptic Self. He says we each start life with similar but slightly different sets of genes and then have different experiences. As such, both nature and nurture (inherited, as well as environment and learning aspects) contribute to who you are. They both shape the electric circuits of your brain.

Consider how cells in your body are regularly replaced over time, yet your personality remains the same. The reason is that while your cells are replaced, it is the energy flowing through them that ultimately comprises your character.

Accordingly, the patterns of the nerve circuits in your brain and body and the information encoded by those connections are key to who you are.

As such, you are also your energy. Ultimately, you are your body, your mind and your energy. So why don't you consider your energy more?

Read more in The Ultimate Meaning of Life.


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