Strangers with cookies: How a TED Talk inspired college students to do a highly altruistic act during finals week

TED Blog

The McGregor Reading Room at the University of Virginia is sometimes referred to as the “Harry Potter Room.” All  bookshelves, oriental carpets and chandeliers, the room earned its nickname for its posh look and the fact that it’s a favorite spot for studying. But last December, this room filled with a little real-life magic: the smell of freshly baked cookies.

One night during finals week, three friends — brothers Danisch and Faiq Malik, along with longtime pal Intesar “Thar” Tariq — bought nine boxes of chocolate chip cookies and passed them out in the reading room, gratis. This random act of kindness was inspired by Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, “The happy secret to better work.”[ted_talkteaser id=1344]

Faiq Malik, a fourth year at American University, was the first in the group to watch the talk. “I took last semester off because I had a lower-back surgery,” he explains. “I…

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