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LARSON: Need a resolution? Read my list

New Year’s resolutions. I’m not sure yet what mine will be, but I sure have a list of suggestions for other people. Like the ones who stand in line for 10 minutes at a fast food restaurant and when they get up to the counter have no idea what they want. I wish they would resolve to spend their time in line more wisely.

As for spending time wisely, I wish those people who daydream at a traffic light and wait 30 seconds before moving when it turns green would resolve to pay attention. Even if they are not in a hurry, the person behind them might be. In fact, a private detective once told me he’s lost several cases when following a car that got through a light when he didn’t. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to think that if everyone just looked at the light that no more bad guys would ever get away?

Then there are those people who can’t sit through a two hour movie without getting up 10 times. I with they would resolve to sit on the aisle. Do they really enjoy squeezing their way across 10 sets of knees and feet for that third bag of popcorn?

Speaking of squeezing, I wish grocery store managers would resolve not to build any more of those tin can towers in the aisles, especially on Senior Citizens Day when the store is packed with people maneuvering around using canes, walkers and wheelchairs. A slalom course is the last thing we old folks want or need.

And what I really wish is that those people in charge of charitable fundraisers would stop sending me junk in the mail. I don’t need those non-recyclable self-stick return address labels or paper thin lap blankets that clash with my color scheme. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I saw a story in the Dec. 15 Wall Street Journal by Lindsay Gellman about two Yale University researchers, George E. Newman and Y. Jeremy Chen, who did a study to see how these unsolicited gifts influence people’s willingness to give.

“We found when you offer a thank-you gift as part of an initial donation request — such as a pen, tote bag, or mug — people end up donating less than if you just asked them how much they’d be willing to donate,” Newman said. “People seem to be concerned that if they were to accept the thank-you gift, it would create ambiguity about their reasons for giving. There’s actually a very long literature in psychology on this idea, known as the “crowding-out” effect, where a person’s intrinsic motivation ends up decreasing once an external incentive is added.”

So even in this “me generation” that we hear so much about most people would rather give out of love and compassion than out of obligation or guilt? Now that gives me hope for the new year, and I resolve to celebrate that!

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.