Ellen Langer

Mindfulness 25th Anniversary Edition ·

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Ellen J. Langer, Harvard professor of psychology, determines that the mindless following of routine and other automatic behaviors lead to much error, pain and a predetermined course of life. In this thought-provoking book, her research has been “translated” for the lay reader. With anecdotes and metaphors, Langer explains how the mindless—as opposed to the mindful—develop mindsets of categories, associations, habits of thought born of repetition in childhood and throughout schooling. To be mindful, she notes, stressing process over outcome, allows free rein to intuition and creativity, and opens us to new information and perspectives.

Langer discusses the negative impact of mindsets on business and social relations, showing special concern for the elderly, who often suffer from learned helplessness and lack of options. Encouraging the application of mindfulness to health, the author affirms that placebos and alternative, mind-based therapies can help patients and addicts move from unhealthy to healthy contexts.

“Ellen Langer’s insights span every field of human endeavor, including not least my own.”

—Atul Gawande, MD, Author of Complications, Harvard Medical School

“No one in the history of psychology has done more than Ellen Langer in showing the power Mindfulness can give us over our health and happiness.”

—Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University, Author of Shyness

“Ellen Langer’s research changed the face of psychology. Langer was able to take an ancient esoteric concept into our daily life, with endless possibilities in health, learning, and human welfare. And beyond the immediate practical benefits of her research, she also made the cosmos smile.”

—Daniel Ariely, Duke University, Author of Predictably Irrational

All of us who write books about psychology for a popular audience are aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and Ellen Langer is one of those giants.
—Malcolm Gladwell, Author of Blink

“Always ahead of her time, Ellen Langer’s persistence and willing- ness to challenge orthodoxy, her attention to variability within population groups, her rigorous studies of the dance between mind and body, and her alternative approaches to regeneration and healing are now being confirmed by neuroscience. I follow her work very carefully.”

—Bruce Price, MD, Harvard Medical School

“A landmark work of social psychology.”

—Booklist

“One simply can’t finish this book and see the world in the same way.”

—Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School

“Dr. Langer’s seminal work on mindful behavior has broad implications for aviation safety and the development of proper roles for humans vs. machines.”

—Clay Foushee, Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor Federal Aviation Authority

“A life-enhancing alternative the antidote to the rigid, reactive, repetitive patterns that keep the best of us sealed in unlived lives. Langer gives scientific heft to a fascinating and undervalued phenomenon. A thought-provoking read that deserves a wide general audience.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Extremely provocative for students. This book cannot be read mindlessly”

—Robert Abelson, Yale University

“Even professional colleagues who have long admired Langer’s creative and ground-breaking research will be unprepared for the bold and startling conclusions that derive from her findings.”

—Daryl Bem, Cornell University

“Langer not only challenges us to reach for our untapped reserves, she also shows ways to make this possible.”

—Paul Baltes, Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education, Berlin

“Whether you’re an educator, homemaker, business person, mental health worker differently abled or abled, young or old, there is something in this book for you.”

—Deaf Community News

“Langer demonstrates a rare capacity both to see what is extraordinary about human events and to envision even more enlivening human possibilities.”

—Lee Ross, Stanford University

“One is reminded, reading these pages, of Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life and of Hannah Arendt’s The Banality of Evil. Like those pioneering books, this one ‘naturalizes’ a human scourge—everyday functional stupidity in this case—and makes it not only comprehensible but also subject to change.”

—Jerome Bruner, Author of Actual Minds, Possible Worlds