Ellen Jane Langer is a professor of psychology at Harvard University. Over the past 35 years she’s written eleven books and more than two hundred research articles on mindfulness, illusion of control, decision making, and aging. Her landmark book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility (click here to read my summary/review of it), reported on her experiments proving elderly men could improve their health by acting as if it were 20 years earlier.
These quotes are drawn from the March 2014 Harvard Business Review interview, “Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity:”
Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement.
Mindfulness helps you realize that there are no positive or negative outcomes. There’s A, B, C, D, and more, each with its challenges and opportunities.
Stress is not a function of events; it’s a function of the view you take of events. You think a particular thing is going to happen and that when it does, it’s going to be awful. But prediction is an illusion. We can’t know what’s going to happen.
I tell leaders they should make not knowing OK — I don’t know, you don’t know, nobody knows — rather than acting like they know, so everyone else pretends they know, which leads to all sorts of discomfort and anxiety.
I think chaos is a perception. People say that there’s too much information, and I would say that there’s no more information now than there was before. The difference is that people believe they have to know it — that the more information they have, the better the product is going to be and the more money the company is going to make. I don’t think it depends as much on the amount of information someone has as on the way it’s taken in. And that needs to be mindful.
Life consists only of moments, nothing more than that. So if you make the moment matter, it all matters. You can be mindful, you can be mindless. You can win, you can lose. The worst case is to be mindless and lose. So when you’re doing anything, be mindful, notice new things, make it meaningful to you, and you’ll prosper.
For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.