Ellen Langer, PhD, Harvard University: Finding Mindfulness

Subscribe to the Outside In podcast:

People often confuse the act of being mindful with the practice of meditation. But mindfulness isn’t a practice, says Ellen Langer, a Harvard University professor of psychology and author of the groundbreaking book, Mindfulness. “It’s an understanding of the inherent uncertainty in the world that leads you to pay attention.” But too often we operate in a state of mindlessness — because we think we already know the right answers. We’re mostly oblivious to our mindlessness. But not knowing is a very good thing, indeed. Langer joins the podcast to talk about the energy begetting benefits of simply noticing new things — or, being mindful. She discusses the power of being comfortable with uncertainty and how individuals and businesses can embrace mindfulness to see problems and create solutions from different perspectives.

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • The “psychology of possibility” and why the limits we see in our life — even our physical health — aren’t fixed or as real as we believe they are
  • Mindlessness occurs because we fail to realize that everything that is was at one point a decision based on uncertainty
  • Why 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2. (Context matters!)
  • The benefits of replacing defensive pessimism (expecting or preparing for the worst but hoping for the best) with mindful optimism
  • The limits of “work/life balance,” and why “work/life integration” is a better pathway towards being happier and more productive
  • How increased mindfulness after living through a year of Covid-19 might impact our post-pandemic world