Book Reviews and Links

Langer, Ellen J. Mindfulness, 1989.

In this provocative book, Langer describes her early research about “mindfulness” and “mindlessness,” and explores the relationship between our mindstates and our actions. This is not a “how-to” guide, but rather a series of essays that describe her scientific work in simple language, and raise a number of intriguing questions.

For almost two decades, Langer and her Harvard colleagues have been examining the difference between “mindful” and “mindless” activity, and exploring what that difference could mean to the way we work and live.

According to Langer, mindlessness:

  • Causes us to freeze our understanding, and makes us oblivious to small changes that could cause us to take new action,
  • Can show up as prejudice, rigidity and un unwillingness to consider new ideas,
  • Can lead to learned helplessness and underachieving.
The great news is that mindfulness isn’t complicated, it doesn’t require an altered state of consciousness, and anyone can modify their own state of mind or quickly be coached to become more mindful.
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