The Lesson: Narcissism exists on a spectrum. Sociopaths exhibit too much of the trait and have a problem with grandiosity and arrogance, but too little of it—utter selflessness—may also be detrimental. A healthy sense of self places you in the middle of the spectrum and is the optimum goal for ourselves and our children.

Notable Excerpt: “What science shows, from the research of Dr. Craig Malkin, is that there is a spectrum, super-unhealthy on both sides—too much feeling special, becoming untethered to others, and too little feeling special. The phrase that captures the healthy narcissist more than any other: they have big dreams. They are willing to feel special enough to think they can do something meaningful in the world…and they’re not going to sacrifice relationships in going after those dreams. The tether that keeps us in the center is secure relationships.”

The Speaker: Brian Johnson is a philosopher and founder of, a website, app, and free video series that help people to optimize their lives so they can be their best selves. He studies self-improvement books, then breaks them down into bite-sized chunks and ‘Philosopher‘s Notes’ for busy people who want ‘more wisdom in less time’. He also offers Optimal Living classes and online training for your Hero’s Journey.

Podcast: Brian’s podcast, OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson, features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time (between 4-19 minutes each) to help you live your greatest life. Subscribe: Stitcher — iTunes — Podbean.

Featured Books: In his book, Rethinking Narcissism, Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist and psychology professor at Harvard Medical School, differentiates between healthy and unhealthy narcissism and offers clear, step-by-step guidance on how to promote healthy narcissism in ourselves, and our children.

(LISTEN to the inspiring talk below)

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