I can almost guarantee that you won't have a clue what this post is about just by reading the title. How does it fit on an economics blog? Because it's about psychic rewards from helping make things work and go smoothly.
I had an experience this morning that led to a certain feeling and I've often had this kind of experience leading to this kind of feeling. I realize that I've never shared this with anyone. I wonder if other readers have had this kind of experience.
I was about to walk across a street at a corner where there is a 4-way stop. It's one of the busier corners in Monterey and so there's usually a fair amount of traffic. A pedestrian can really slow things down because when he walks across, he might be walking in front of a vehicle whose turn it was or whose turn it was about to be. Then that vehicle has to wait and other drivers at the other 3 stops aren't so sure who's going to go. That one pedestrian crossing can slow each of the 4 drivers waiting, and therefore the drivers behind them, unless one driver sees the situation and, knowing the pedestrian will "block" for him, goes out of turn. Still, even with that other aware driver, there's more waiting than there would have been without the pedestrian.
When I started to cross the street, I noticed a medium-sized Monterey bus that would then have to wait until I got past him in front of him to the other side. I sized up the situation quickly and realized that I could avoid stopping any of the flow if I jay-walked slightly and went behind him. So I caught the driver's attention, pointed at myself, and then pointed to the space behind him. The driver got the point, waved, and drove into the intersection.
So I helped make things work better. Here was my interesting physical reaction. I actually felt a part of my brain feel warm and fuzzy. It's hard to describe, but it was a pleasurable feeling and it's one I've often had in social situations where I see a Pareto-improving move I can make and I make it.
My question: Have any of you had similar experience where you help make things better for others with no pecuniary reward and no expectation of such a reward, and then had that warm fuzzy feeling in your brain?