I came across a talk yesterday called “Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness” by Ellen Langer. I really love challenging my thinking, and learning/growing and this talk has been a real eye opener.
Ellen discusses the concept of mindfulness, but from a very “stand alone” view point. Her research and opinions are of mindfulness as it’s own practice, and not as part of meditation or Buddhism.
And it’s fascinating.
I’m still absorbing her concepts – as they are many and varied (and brilliant!). But a few things have resonated with me already.
A lot of her work (as I understand it so far) explores challenging our thinking and the labels we apply to certain situations. And how changing our thinking changes our experience.
For example it’s proven that most of us view our jobs as “work”. Our attitudes are that it’s a necessary evil, and we approach our work days as such. We don’t enjoy our jobs (that’s what our personal time is for!). However if we can approach work our work as being fun/pleasurable/interesting our experience changes vastly as does our enjoyment. The work is the same, but the approach and outcome are different.
She also challenges us to explore our set beliefs. One question she asks is “what is 1 plus 1?”. And naturally most people are going to roll their eyes and say “2”. But as she says, that’s not always the case. What if you had one wad of chewing gum, and one more wad to it? It’s not going to be 2.
And personally I love challenging my thinking that way.
Maybe I’m weird (okay I own that I am lol), but I often question the labels that we give things.
For example – the common belief is that going into a shopping centre/restaurant/business with bare feet is considered rude. Why is it rude? Because as a society we frown upon it. But why? Who came up with that rule that shoes must be worn? We are raised with that belief, but what if the belief was that it was rude to wear shoes in a shopping centre?
It’s an odd example I know, but I often think about small things like that. Or “the sky is blue”. Why do we call it the sky? Why have we given it that label? Where did that come from? What if we knew it by a completely different name?
And it’s true of basically everything in life.
Which leads me to say I’ve always been very vocal about my belief that things never black or white. A neighbour of mine is always very very firm in her opinions. She will argue – violently – with anyone who doesn’t agree with her take on life. But I often wonder – how could she be so set in her opinions? What makes them unshakeable?
I can honestly say I never have set opinions or beliefs on anything. I just don’t see life being that way. It’s fluid, and changeable and only appears to everyone differently based on their experiences, on their upbringings, their financial situation, their religion, etc etc etc.
I’m enjoying learning more as I listen to her talk. And I’ve immediately downloaded her book as well, so I am sure this subject will come up quite a lot in coming weeks.
Take care my friends,