Psychology considered as the science of human behavior is concerned with man's response to the impressions made upon him by objects, people, and events. They make up the situations that he meets. Behavior--the individual's way of dealing with these situations--if not a complete failure, results finally in some sort of adjustment to the conditions in which one lives; and this adjustment culminates in social and moral habits, in habits of work, in ways of thinking and acting; in short, in habits of life. And through all the adapting process runs the influence of physiological conditions, and the effect of their changes caused by the manner of life and the advance of years.
The adjustment may be mechanical and rigid, insensible to misfits, without power to readjust as conditions alter; or, again, it may be flexible and adaptive--capable of new adjustments as circumstances change. This adjustment represents the capacity of man for achievement. It is his efficiency--the strategy and tactics of life. It is well, then, from time to time to take an inventory of stock and try to discover the significance of the facts and principles of human behavior which investigation has revealed. Concerning the more common matters of every-day life, however, psychologists have offered relatively little of interpretative value. Yet these experiences make up the day's work. They determine its quantity and quality.
Much has been written about making others efficient, but comparatively little about one's own method of thinking, working, and acting. Yet knowing oneself reaches far into success and failure; and there is no other way of understanding the behavior of others. It is, therefore, in the hope of interpreting a few of these personal experiences of daily life that this book is written. The topics that could be discussed extend far beyond the limits of a single volume. The choice, of course, is largely personal, but the writer has tried to select types of conduct, as well as phases and causes of behavior, that are fundamental to thinking and acting, whether in the life of social intercourse or in the business and professional world. And, after all, thinking and acting determine achievement.
- 1918 Routledge
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