Ellen Langer

Bad Advice or a Mindless Decision? ·


I was once advised to take a calculus class in college that turned out to be the wrong one to pursue the chemistry major I had already embarked on. I became a psychologist instead.

There may really be no such thing as bad advice. What is good from one perspective may be bad from another. I’ve never been given bad advice although I have on occasion made a choice that seemed not to turn out to be to my advantage. When I’ve made it work out anyway, the so-called bad advice became good. Moreover, we never know what the alternatives not taken would have felt like.

Regret is mindless. If we make our decisions—to follow any particular path—mindfully, we’ll have no regrets, and thus will have not taken bad advice.