Random Acts of Consideration

As a psychologist, I often find myself noticing how the behavior of one person can  affect the behavior of another. For example, over the past few weeks while driving to work in the morning, I have noticed that if I leave a space open at an intersection, the car in the lane next to me often will do the same. I tested my theory by sometimes blocking the intersection and sometimes leaving an opening and, without fail, the other driver followed suit. This isn’t ground-breaking science, but it got me thinking about how important is can be for each us to model prosocial behavior. I’m not talking about pay-it-forward, random acts of kindness gestures (though those certainly are nice, too) but rather modeling an awareness that there are other people around us to consider. Huffington Post recently published an article about the habits of considerate people which supposedly include, among other things, anticipating the needs of other people, having good manners, and being empathetic. These are not behaviors that necessarily take a lot of time or other resources; these are things we can be mindful of in daily activities. Perhaps letting someone in in traffic won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it does signal respect and may decrease another person’s frustration by a margin. What could be bad about that?



Playlist: 5 Mindshifting talks on happiness

TED Blog

(TED is on its annual two-week vacation. During the break, we’re posting playlists from the TEDTalks archive. We’ll be back with new talks on August 29th.)

Happiness seems simple, yet the more we look into it, the more layers and complexities we find. Here are five TEDTalks that will transform how you view happiness, and how to achieve it.

1) Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.


2) Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness.


3) Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life…

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