Source: NYTimes, Oct 2014
Even smart people fall prey to an “illusion of control” over chance events, Langer concluded. We aren’t really very rational creatures. Our cognitive biases routinely steer us wrong.
If people could learn to be mindful and always perceive the choices available to them, Langer says, they would fulfill their potential and improve their health.
Langer’s technique of achieving a state of mindfulness is different from the one often utilized in Eastern “mindfulness meditation” — nonjudgmental awareness of the thoughts and feelings drifting through your mind — that is everywhere today.
Her emphasis is on noticing moment-to-moment changes around you, from the differences in the face of your spouse across the breakfast table to the variability of your asthma symptoms.
When we are “actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual” categorizations, we’re alive; and when we’re alive, we can improve. Indeed, “well-being and enhanced performance” were Langer’s goals from the beginning of her career.