by Ellen J. Langer
Perseus, 256 pp
Publication Date: April 1990
This treasure of a book bears multiple reads, not because it is dense or difficult to move through, but because it is about a subject that bears repeated reminders throughout our
lives. Ellen Langer wrote this book more than ten years ago, yet it is timeless in its message that our thoughts create our reality and that, without mindfulness in our
lives, we are moving through life in “automatic mode” – which fosters mindlessness, stupidity, and complacency.
Langer is a Harvard psychologist, and this little book is
loaded with results of scientific experiments that demonstrate the practicality of living life mindfully. Her experiments make you think about how mindless you really
are, and her writing, which is exuberant, friendly, and sometimes funny, is as encouraging and motivating as possible. Langer’s examples about routines, habits, and
accepted mindsets really foster reflection, and ultimately, new choices.
Langer explores the nature of mindfulness, the costs of
mindlessness (narrow self image, learned helplessness, stunted potential), and how mindfulness fosters more positive frameworks for working, creativity, aging,
decreasing prejudice, and taking care of your health. Langer’s thinking influenced me as a listener and speaker, as well as thinker, reflector, and actor in my life. I was
energized reading this book to examine the choices I make and to listen deeply to others. Her work offers beautiful distinctions that coaches can use to better themselves
and to foster exploration for their clients.