How to Turn Your Pain into Purpose

The tough stuff we go through can motivate us to relieve others' suffering. Here's how this transformation can happen.

The Greatest of All Time

Sure, it's folly to suggest that athletes' on-court feats are heroic in themselves. But there's a reason it feels so natural, so self-evident, to call our favorite athletes heroes.

The Youngest Heroes

Tyler Doohan, 9, awoke when flames swept through his family's trailer last month in Penfield, NY. Once Tyler realized what was happening, he was able to wake six of his family members and guide them to safety. What would motivate a child like Tyler to put others' safety ahead of his own?

Do “Hero's Journey” Narratives Create Heroes?

Tales of personal growth, selfless sacrifice, and triumph against great odds exert a powerful pull on us. But do the stories we absorb actually affect how we live our lives?

Altruism as Enlightened Self-Interest

It's the sense of deep satisfaction they get that makes some altruists “lifers”: They're so steeped in the joy that comes from helping others that they can't imagine doing anything else.

Is Altruism Ever Pure?

When I told people I was working on a book about the science of heroism and altruism, some sounded skeptical. “There’s no such thing as true altruism,” they would say.

Dissecting the Science of Selflessness

My book, What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness, has officially launched! Does science offer us realistic hope to become more compassionate as a species? And do you have to make headlines to lead a truly heroic life?

"I could have done more"

It's tough to think of a starker real-life crisis of conscience than the one faced by Jan Karski. Karski was a World War II Polish underground member who gathered important information about Poland and reported it to the country's government-in-exile. While carrying out this mission, Karski encountered evidence of a colossal crime: the destruction of the European Jews.

Next Rolling Stone Cover: Boston's Heroes?

When I saw the photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone, I wasn't distressed. But there are stories from the Marathon bombings that have not yet been told enough.

Selflessness... or Self-Sabotage?

We often hear that if we could all be a little more helpful, the world would be a much better place. And this old saw is true, for the most part: Reaching out to benefit others also tends to be an effective way to maintain our physical and mental health. Even so, there is such a thing as being too selfless.

Edward Snowden: Hero or Goat?

NSA leaker Snowden has indicated that he willingly sacrificed the comforts of his life in Hawaii because he felt compelled to inform Americans of the scope of government surveillance and its threat to their privacy. So far, though, public opinion is divided on the moral merits of his actions.

Heroes Who Break the Mold

Charles Ramsey could hardly have predicted the online juggernaut he set into motion last week when he gave a Cleveland TV station an off-the-cuff interview. “I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music,” he said after helping rescue three women from captivity in his neighbor's house.

Why Did the Boston Heroes Intervene?

In the midst of chaos after the Marathon bombings, some observers stepped up to help in heroic ways. Why did these Boston heroes do what they did?