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Being Prosocial is Being Meaningful


People’s hands are reached out and red paint on them forms a heart shape when they come together

The first step on the Meaningful Path, and the next focus in our Five Strivings series, is all about being prosocial. Each post in this series is about a simple and practical way of understanding and applying each of the five steps on what we refer to as the “Meaningful Path”.


If you missed the start of the series, I recommend you go back and start with the first post, “5 Ways We Strive and Thrive”, and then continue in order until you catch up. There is a benefit to allowing time for each one to be considered thoughtfully and in the context of your own life experiences before moving on to the next, so you may want to come back for some review if you choose to go through them together.


Prosocial

Primal Root = Love


The term prosocial refers to the way we interact with others in life. It is defined as “denoting or exhibiting behavior that benefits one or more other people...” (www.dictionary.apa.org)


When we are prosocial, we are other-oriented, considerate, and promote the social good. When we are acting in a prosocial way it feels good for us, but also for others around us. Lifting spirits and promoting positive outcomes.


Being prosocial doesn’t mean that you have to be the one who always makes sure to remember to buy the “you’re tigerrrriffic” balloons when a co-worker’s birthday comes around, or a friend reaches a milestone. There are plenty of ways to act that benefit others and don’t mean becoming someone you aren’t.


Let’s think about that for a moment, taking on a new or modified behavior doesn’t have to be a departure from integrity. How you act in a prosocial way can and should be aligned with who you are and your skills and natural tendencies.


A black sign with a wooden frame with white lettering that says “A Smile Can Change Someones Day"


Who you are is meaningful, and the unique identity that makes you, you, is the so-very-important why behind what you do. Those actions are how you show up in the world. Your behavior should be carrying out what is meaningful in a way that is aligned with who you are.


So, how can you be prosocial, behaving to benefit others in a way that is a reflection of who you are? That is a great question to consider. Each of us may have a different answer (or answers) based on what makes us unique, our personal skills and tendencies, and the different opportunities our work and daily lives bring. Here are a few examples to help get started and build on.



A person sitting on a step holding a mobile phone


Check in on a friend or relative that you haven’t spoken to in a bit, and aim to have at least 80% of the conversation be about them.



A casual office setting with coworkers collaborating on chairs and beanbags


Make some free time to help a co-worker or someone in your professional network with something they’ve been working on or have been hoping to start.



A tray of cookies with chocolate kisses pressed into them


Bake something sweet and give it away to brighten up someone’s (or a group of someones') day.


The root of this step on the Meaningful Path is love. There is a major meaning-boost in caring enough to be other-oriented. This isn’t just conceptual, it’s tangible, palpable. You can feel the personal uplift that happens when you behave in a way that uplifts others.


Try it on! As you think today about the ways that you are prosocial throughout your own days, and where you might have some opportunity, practice what you come up with. You’ll see that there is usually a noticeable benefit right away.


Be sure to check out the next post in the Five Strivings series, Peace.

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