My Best Psychology and Self Improvement Articles of 2017


As we enter the new year, now is a perfect time to reflect back on the past twelve months and the multiple ways we’ve grown and changed as individuals.

The Emotion Machine first started in June of 2009 and currently has over 500 articles about a range of topics in psychology and self improvement including Positive Psychology, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Social Psychology, Mindfulness Meditation, Stoicism, and much more.

Every year I put together a “Best Articles” list to showcase some of the more popular and well-liked articles that have been published over the past year. This is a great collection if you are new to this site and would like to start diving into what you can learn here.

Here are my best psychology and self improvement articles of 2017 – check them out and see if there is anything you’ve missed, I think you’ll find a lot of awesome tips and advice!

Best Articles

  • Build a “Mental Toolbox” to Help You Navigate Through Rough Times

  • This is my main approach to self improvement – I’m always collecting new “tools” to help me better my life. The more tools you have in your “mental toolbox,” the more options you have when you find yourself in a difficult situation.

  • Cognitive Restructuring: The Complete Guide on How to Reframe Your Beliefs

  • “Cognitive restructuring” is a tool used by psychologists and therapists to help identify beliefs that are maladaptive and destructive to our lives, and then reframe them to new beliefs that are more constructive and healthy.

  • 5 Fundamental Pillars for Building a Meaningful and Purposeful Life

  • Finding meaning in your life can come from many different sources. Five key factors in building a meaningful life include a sense of belonging, purpose, storytelling, growth, and transcendence.

  • Don’t Become An Information Junkie: A Balance Between Learning And Taking Action

  • One big trap in self improvement is becoming an “information junkie.” This is when we spend more time learning new information than putting it into action. This is a very common problem people face – and here’s what to do about it!

  • The Power of a Neutral Mind: How to Keep a Stoic Focus Whether You’re Winning or Losing

  • A neutral mind can be even better than a positive mind, especially when you’re trying to stay focused, motivated, and working hard to achieve your goals.

  • “Brain Drain” Exercise: How Stream-of-Consciousness Writing Can Help Over-Thinking

  • Do you commonly find yourself over-thinking? Try this short “brain drain” exercise to help free up your mind and release thoughts trapped in your head. Another great tool to add to your “mental toolbox.”

  • Take a Moment to Appreciate Everyday Nature That Is Right in Front of You

  • Nature is all around us yet we rarely take the time to step back and appreciate it. According to a new study, we should find more opportunities to observe nature in our everyday surroundings.

  • The Power of Pretending You’re Someone Else: Stepping Outside of a Limited Self-Image

  • By temporarily pretending to be someone else and putting ourselves in their shoes, we can actually learn more about hidden aspects of ourselves.

  • Why Self-Awareness Is The First Step Toward Empathy

  • To better understand others, we must first better understand ourselves. According to a new study, developing self-awareness is an important first step in developing better empathy.

  • The Need for Healthy Dissent: Standing Out and Breaking the Spiral of Silence

  • All it takes is one person to rebel to spark a change. It’s important we recognize the need for dissent and be willing to step out-of-line when appropriate – or we risk continuing a vicious “spiral of silence.”

  • Positive Delusions: Do We Need Them to Reach Our Full Potential?

  • “Positive delusions” are often necessary to bring out your best self. If you don’t believe something is possible (even when there’s not yet evidence for it), then you’re not going to look for ways it can become true.

  • How a Sobering Walk Through a Cemetery Can Help Reinvigorate Your Life

  • We don’t like to think about death, but studies show thinking about it can have a transformative effect on our lives. Even just a simple walk through a cemetery can be an eye-opening experience that helps put things into perspective.

  • Your Mindset About Your Health Can Make a Big Physical Difference

  • Our mind and body are tightly interconnected. There’s interesting new research that shows how just our mindset and perspective can make a real difference in our physical health.

  • The Power of Anticipation: Why We All Need Something to Look Forward To

  • We all need something to look forward to in life. A healthy sense of “anticipation” can often help energize our lives, and even help us get through tough times. Find ways to be more excited about the future!

  • Nightmares May Be a Sign It’s Time to Change Something In Your Life

  • Do you get a lot of nightmares? It could be a sign you need to make a change. Individuals who have re-occurring nightmares are more likely to report that they are also feeling more powerless, anxious, or frustrated with their lives. 

  • A One Time Lesson in “Growth Mindset” Can Help With Depression and Anxiety

  • One big concept in psychology right now is developing a “growth mindset.” According to a fascinating study, even just one quick 30 minute lesson about “growth mindset” can help young teens with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Play the “Alphabet Game” to Derail Negative Thoughts

  • Do you often get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking? Try this simple “Alphabet Game” exercise to help derail negative thoughts in the moment.

    New Podcast

    This year also marks the beginning of the new The Emotion Machine podcast. This has been a good opportunity for me to speak with a wide-range of different psychologists, neuroscientists, therapists, coaches, and other experts in self improvement.

    You can find a complete list of episodes here, but here a few standout episodes that are worth checking out.

  • Consciousness, Brains, and the Future of Neuroscience (Dr. Heather Berlin)

  • Dr. Heather Berlin is a neuroscientist, professor of psychiatry, and TV host. In this chat, we talk about the nature of consciousness, common misconceptions in neuroscience, free will and decision-making, deep brain stimulation, and the future of neuroscience and technology. We also get to touch on some of our favorite movies about psychology and neuroscience, as well as the future of AI and consciousness.

  • How to Improve Your Social Skills and Better Connect With People (Jeff Callahan)

  • Jeff Callahan is a social skills and communication coach behind the site Become More Compelling. In this chat, we talk about how we first became interested in self improvement, advice on how to overcome social anxiety and start new conversations, the importance of taking action and trying new things, and why it’s okay to be self-conscious when you’re first learning new skills. We also touch on the importance of staying connected with old friends and family, our idea of the “scariest social situations,” and what we can learn from stand-up comedians.

  • Brutal Honesty and Sparking Change (David P. Robbins)

  • David P. Robbins is a rare breed of therapist and psychologist who believes in the power of brutal honesty and personal accountability – he labels his approach “Give ‘Em Both Barrels” (or GEBB). In this chat, we discuss the nature of why therapy works, different techniques and perspectives, and how to spark real change in people.

  • Beyond Talking: EMDR, Art Therapy, and Sandbox Play as Tools for Healing (Ginger Klee)

  • Ginger Klee is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who focuses on EMDR, art therapy, and sandbox play. In this chat, we discuss the limitations of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and how different approaches that don’t always focus on “talk therapy” can be the best way to go for many people, especially those with trauma and emotional abuse. We also touch on ways for therapists to manage their own mental health, the role of feminism and culture in therapy, and the potential of virtual reality.

  • Relationships, Touch, and Sexual Bucket Lists (Dr. Lori Beth)

  • Dr. Lori Beth is an Intimacy Coach and psychotherapist who focuses on relationships, love, and sex. In this interview, we discuss key differences between monogamy and polyamory, the importance of human touch, cuddling professionals, the impact of media and culture on sexual attitudes, and sexual bucket lists.

    You can also feel free to download all episodes on iTunes and Soundcloud.

    More Resources

    The Emotion Machine also provides many other resources in psychology and self improvement. If you are new here, you should also consider checking out:

    These are all great additional resources for learning more about yourself and how you can improve your life. I especially recommend you check out the “Free Downloads” page where you can download a bunch of free self improvement guides and workbooks.

    Please Support The Emotion Machine

    If you find any joy or value in my work, it would be greatly appreciated if you could support me and keep The Emotion Machine growing and evolving into the future.

    You can donate to both my PayPal or Patreon. Here are the links:

    I’m super thankful for any support you guys can give, even just a few bucks (a cup of coffee) can go a long way in helping me to maintain this site and keep creating new content.

    Thanks for everything and let’s make 2018 as awesome as possible!

    Stay updated on new articles and resources in psychology and self improvement:

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