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WINNER OF THE NAUTILUS AWARD FOR Psychology and MentAL/Emotional Well-Being

From the author of the international bestseller Designing the Mind: The Principles of Psychitecture comes an ambitious and counterintuitive guide to the good life.

After spending over a decade researching the psychology and philosophy of well-being, and even writing his first book on the topic, it took a struggle with his own mental health for Ryan A Bush to integrate the data he had studied to form a groundbreaking new psychological theory. Become Who You Are argues that the peak form of human happiness is determined, not by pleasure or pain, loss or gain, but by the admirability we observe in our own behaviors.

“From post-traumatic growth to postpartum depression, the many counterintuitive stories of happiness actually all tell the same tale. Our overall well-being does not correspond to the surface-level events to which we tend to attribute it. But it corresponds perfectly to something else—something going on beneath the surface of our external outcomes.”

This philosophy-infused self-development guide takes readers on a kaleidoscopic journey through Stoic philosophy and neuropsychology—Nietzschean virtue ethics and evolutionary psychology—spiritual wisdom and psychotherapy. It offers a moving account of Ryan’s own descent into depression, his climb back to flourishing, and the ambitious new framework this journey led him to that we can use to decode and direct our lives.

“The good life is not the sum of simple pleasure or the fruit of success. Its essence is not comfort, struggle, purpose, or even love. You don’t need meaning. You need virtue.”

Become Who You Are: A New Theory of Self-Esteem, Human Greatness, and the Opposite of Depression is Bush’s best, most rigorous, and most personal work to date. The theory it presents will have radical implications for our understanding of the mind and countless individual lives. And it will provide readers with an invaluable guide for reaching the peaks of flourishing and a powerful call to personal greatness.


Become Who You Are is an impressive blend of research and imagination that resonated with me and left me thinking well after I finished reading. The approach put forward in this book is promising, with potential to help stimulate people to do the work to overcome their mental health struggles. Reading the book could help catalyze a person’s search for values, the courage to pursue their highest aspirations, and the climb to reach their ideal self.

– Jonathan Rottenberg PhD, Professor of Psychology and author of The Depths

Become Who You Are: A New Theory of Self-Esteem, Human Greatness, and the Opposite of Depression is the latest DTM book by Ryan A Bush.

Become Who You Are is a book about the opposite of depression.

This is not to say that it’s a book about “happiness.” Just as depression is not merely generic unhappiness, the topic of this book is not merely generic happiness.

It is also not to say that it is a book about depression. Yes, it will inevitably end up covering depression in discussing its opposite, and I do hope it will help some through their struggles.

But this book is about a positive state, not the removal of a negative one. It’s about striving for greatness, not recovering from an illness.

In this book, I present a new theory about the nature of human well-being. A theory that the peak form of human happiness is determined, not by pleasure or pain, loss or gain, but by the admirability we observe in our own behaviors.

“What does your conscience say? – ‘You shall become the person you are’.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

The reason is surprisingly concrete. A special part of your brain is always watching you, constantly making evaluations, and dynamically delivering chemicals based on those evaluations. These chemicals are responsible for your mood.

This part of your brain that monitors you might be called the default mode network by a neuroscientist. An evolutionary psychologist might call it the sociometer. A spiritual teacher would call it the ego.

But it is all one thing – one very real mechanism that is central to the functioning of your mind. And contrary to popular belief, it is not your enemy. It is the source of the highest happiness available to you.

“The self-appraisal system compares actions with our values to determine how closely they align with them. It determines our own worth based on how closely our own total virtues align with those values. And it provides a chemical catalyst for corresponding behaviors.

– Become Who You Are

“Become who you are” is a phrase attributed to 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Like all of his work, it is cryptic and ambiguous. But it has an allure that hasn’t left my mind since I first heard it.

We are used to hearing that we should be ourselves. Find ourselves? Sure. But becoming ourselves is a different, seemingly paradoxical, proposition. How can I become who I already am?

I believe the answer to that question is exactly what so many people are in need of today. It lies at the heart of the vague dissatisfaction and aimlessness felt by so many. At the root of clinical depression, which is experienced by 250+ million people today.

The modern world is in great need of vision, aspiration, and optimism. In a time when we feel we can’t rely on safety or truth, we need a North Star of individual greatness toward which we can strive.

This concept of greatness seems so far removed from our collective consciousness that the reader may require me to beat them over the head with it to open them up to it.

To do this, I’ve built an argument rooted in Stoic philosophy and neuropsychology. Nietzschean virtue ethics and evolutionary psychology. Spiritual wisdom and psychotherapy. I call the result Virtue Self-Signaling Theory. And it culminates in a literal formula that I believe can guide us to deep satisfaction in life.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

“Nietzsche argued that the heights for which we have aimed—that which we have admired—reflect who we are in the truest sense. He urged us to continually strive toward greater heights, courageously taking step after step in our great ascent.⁶ 

 Become Who You Are

Ryan A Bush

It’s also by far the most personal, most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written. It shares some of the most painful, rewarding, and catalytic experiences of my life, integrating them with philosophical theory and psychological data along the way.

Though my first book offered almost no insight into my own life, that’s all changing quite a bit in this next book. As I’ve said before, I’m not inclined to talk much about myself. But I’ve come to see that my lived experience can help ideas resonate and create a deep impact on others.

I share in the hopes that this model will help serve as a beacon for those who are lost. That it will help reveal new paths for those seeking new growth. And that it will provide a framework for those who have found their way and have struggled to articulate the path to others.

Become Who You Are

Become Who You Are is available now. Order it now at any of the links below: