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Do crowded planes make travelers worse?

An article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune recently looked at the psychological ramifications of traveling in a crowded, uncomfortable airplane. It's obvious that being in such a situation for a long period of time is taxing for passengers and makes their trip more exhausting. However, according to the academics quoted in this article, such conditions also make the travelers more emotional, irritable and likely to act badly.

These experts describe the way that restlessness and claustrophobia lead to "air rage" and antisocial behavior. This includes acting out angrily over something trivial. The antidote to this kind of unhelpful rage is mindfulness, according to the specialists, since people who take the time to see things from the other person's point of view will lessen the intensity of the situation.

An airplane thousands of feet above the ground might seem like an odd place to meditate, but that's only true if there are too many distractions to do so effectively. An article for LifeHacker recently quoted psychologist Mike Brooks about the importance of concentration when it comes to meditation, no matter where it takes place.

"People think the goal of meditation is to empty the mind. It's not about clearing the mind; it's about focusing on one thing," he said. "When the mind wanders, the meditation isn't a failure. Our brain is like a wayward puppy, out of control. Catching it and putting it back to the object of focus is the mediation."

With the private space that comes when passengers charter an airplane, peace of mind is easy to achieve. Travelers are free to use this time to their liking and not be bothered by annoying or disgusting behavior.