Introducing A Beautiful Mind

Thanks for taking the time to read this column. My name is Art Markman. I’m a psychologist who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. I wanted to take this space to introduce myself and to give you a sense of what you can expect from my column called, A Beautiful Mind.For the past 20 years, I have done research on thinking, decision making and motivation.  I am interested in how people decide what to buy, what to wear and how to present themselves to the outside world. My research explores the kinds of situations that make people want to do things the same way they have in the past and when they want to break out of the mold and try something really new.I’m also very interested in the psychology of wellbeing.  That is, what makes you feel good about life? Your sense of happiness and wellbeing are a central part of beauty. We all know people who have perfect bodies and flawless facial structure, but they are just not happy people. Those folks ought to be beautiful, and yet something is missing. At the same time, there are people whose beauty shines through despite some physical imperfections.That interest in wellbeing and beauty led me to help the You Docs to develop the quiz at the beginning of their book “You: Being Beautiful.” That quiz examined a number of aspects of the psychology of beauty. How satisfied are you with your body and looks?  How happy and relaxed are you most of the time? How good are you at projecting your authentic self to the world? All of these factors influence how beautiful you feel. And when you feel beautiful, everyone can see it.The quiz was great fun to work on, and the You Docs gave lots of great advice in their book about beauty. Now, I’m quite excited to have the chance to work on the YouBeauty website, to further explore the relationship between body and mind. There’s a lot of fascinating information out there. Unfortunately, few people have had the chance to learn much about psychology.I have spent a lot of time over the last decade teaching about psychology in a variety of settings to help people use knowledge about the way their minds work to make better decisions. I write blogs for Psychology Today and Huffington Post. I teach classes to people in the business world about developing better thinking habits. I have turned many of those suggestions into a book called “Smart Thinking” that will be published by Perigee Books in January, 2012. Being an advisor to this website is just one more way to pass along what I know.I’m looking forward to using this column to start a conversation about the psychology of beauty. Every couple of weeks, I’ll pick another topic and write a short article summarizing some of the research that relates to ways that you can be more beautiful just by changing your mind. The promise I make is that everything I write about is rooted in the science of psychology. There are a lot of people who write about their own experiences and call it psychology. But, most of us are not the best judges of why we act the way we do. That is why it can be so helpful to know more about the great research that is out there.Finally, I encourage you to get involved. If you have questions about what I have written, ask them as comments, and I’ll do my best to respond. If there are topics that you are curious about, let me know. I’ll try to address them in future columns. I want to help you learn more about yourself, your friends and your family. The more you know, the more beautiful you can be.

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