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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,479 ratings  ·  198 reviews
The revolutionary book that showed how mindfulness can be applied to every aspect of our lives

The highly innovative findings of social psychologist Dr. Ellen J. Langer and her team of researchers at Harvard introduced a unique concept of mindfulness, adapted to contemporary life in the West. Langer's theory has been applied to a wide number of fields, including health, bu
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 1990 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published April 1st 1989)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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i am acutely disappointed by the end of this book. i am even more disappointed by ellen langer herself. yet this does not stop me from wanting to get her second book in her mindfulness series, Mindful Learning.

however, i have now realized why all the other literature on mindfulness does NOT reference her work.

the book is very good in the beginning in describing what exactly mindlessness is. however, her idea of what mindful living is is NOT the same as basically all the other research out the
David Lester
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: transformation
Ellen Langer is a psychologist from Harvard University who has spent much of her career researching the differences between mindfulness and mindlessness. In Langer's view, mindfulness is the ability to create new categories, welcoming new information, openness to different points of view, control over context, and emphasizing process over outcome. In other words, mindfulness is the ability to consider things in new and thoughtful ways. Mindlessness is a product of our tendency to view our world ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
The main gist of this book is that it's better to be aware of what you're doing and avoid the automatic categorizing of situations and people that your mind naturally does when making decisions for yourself or when dealing with others. There are also sections on learned helplessness, especially in the context of old age, creativity and workplace efficiency.

While it's interesting how many of her original studies have gone on to be included in other books over the years, the content of this book
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In today’s hectic world it’s not uncommon to find your mind drifting throughout the day, to get lost in thought.

Mindfulness is a book about how and why mindlessness develops and the affects mindlessness has on our body and quality of life.

The book is broken into two parts.

Part one is about mindlessness: how the categories and rules we learn when we’re young affect our mindlessness by creating automatic behaviors and limiting our perspective. There are many negative affects associated with mind
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition


Mindfulness by Ellen Langer illustrates how we often mindlessly go about our lives. Ellen Langer presents her case by using the research that has been done in psychology (many of which were partly conducted by her). There are many insights I could list, but here are a three of my favorite ones

We tend to categorize things

Ellen Langer proposes a situation in which somebody asks you for a three by seven feet piece of wood in exchange for

Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Mindful..wha? In my ever continuing quest to become sane (some dreams die hard), I thought I'd pick up this little psychology/self-help book that is supposed to help one undertand the importance of being present and mindful. Yawn (Sorry, Buddha).

Admittedly, there were a few interesting anecdotes, and Langer's style is far from academic and dry, but it lacks a certain punch. Instead I just wanted to punch myself for purchasing the book in the first place. Waste of fifteen bucks...
Bruno Arine
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
I found the introduction quite promising as the author explains how we could get more from our lives if we look at things from different perspectives and all. But I lost interest as it became too repetitive and felt more like a Psychology conference's brochure of abstracts. Two hundred pages could be summed up as "you'll be happier if you consciously think out of the box". ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
So many interesting ideas about how different perspectives limit us (premature cognitive commitments, expectations, education for outcome, a belief in linear time, CONTEXT!) and how challenging those perspectives (directly and indirectly) can effect our aging, struggles with addiction, health, and quality of life in general. I liked the insight that Langer gave into the way she developed her experiments.

Though she didn't provide many practical "exercises" for increasing mindfulness, her designs
Yep. Another really good book. This is my kind of topic too. I'm going to go out on a limb and conclude that Mindfulness is equivalent to Self-Awareness. It was interesting when I started this book two weeks ago they used the example of the 1982 flight that crashed by Florida because the pilots weren't mindful. They were just going through the motions. Anyone that has flown a plane knows the 50,000 things that are all happening simultaneously while flying. As I listened to that part I was actual ...more
Mindfulness was a super-interesting read.

Author Ellen J. Langer is the author of more than two hundred research articles and eleven books, including this one, which became an international bestseller and has been translated into fifteen languages.
She is known as "the mother of positive psychology". She is also a member of the psychology department at Harvard University and a painter, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ellen J. Langer:

In a theme that Langer explores in her other work
Chandana Watagodakumbura
“Mindlessness is the application of yesterday’s business solutions to today’s problems”

“Mindfulness is attunement to today’s demands to avoid tomorrow’s difficulties”

In the book “Mindfulness”, the author Ellen Langer (a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and also the author of “The Power of Mindful Learning”) brilliantly highlights the notion of mindfulness as a day-to-day life practice in a very compelling manner. The book recently celebrated the 25th year anniversary, and it is inte
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
My mom gave me this book to read while I'm home visiting and it is a quick read. It was entertaining and informative and I reconsidered many preconceived ideas about old age and really nailed home that your perspective creates your reality. If you think old people are helpless and treat them as such then they will be more likely to act the way they are treated. I have never had a fear of growing old because the majority of the people I respect and view as role models are old people. Everyone is ...more
John Martindale
I liked how this book touched on various observations I've had, that other books have not. It is a book I want to return to and next time I hope to be a little more mindful as I go through it, so I have something more to post on this review. But yeah, I will note here that people who are into eastern religion and all, will likely be disappointed by this book. For its totally a western view, of being thoughtful, thinking outside of the books, thinking creatively, etc... rather than being mindless ...more
Jan 16, 2010 rated it liked it
I MINDLESSLY put this book down somewhere and it took me two days to find it again, on the dryer under a clean towel I hadn't folded. Talk about a need for mindfulness. I must've walked away mid-task, zombie style.
Interesting collection of research experiments pertaining to parenting, teaching, aging, creativity, all in the quest for mindfulness. I like reading about science experiments, but if that's not your thing, not for you.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's a rare book that combines empirical research and self-help and a rarer one that does it well. This book even goes beyond any self help the reader may be looking for and offers concepts to be applied on the micro and macro levels of organizations of all sizes. ...more
Shelly Lefkoe
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved the book; came away with numerous insights

Opened my eyes to so many possibilities. I plan to reread it immediately. Applying the material in this book will make a profound difference in your life. Morty
Arvind Kandhare
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
First of the many mindfulness books I will be reading this year :).
I think it does pretty well to stay very close to the experimentally provable part of it. I think it will be more bulletproof if it could have avoided the "Universe" and "energy" generalizations !!!
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Important read for anyone who cares about the future of learning in their own lives and the lives of our children. A must read for educators.
Dave Hood
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An illuminating read on mindfulness and roots of mindlessness.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Fascinating...her studies about mindfulness and aging were so interesting.
Davood Torabzadeh
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So academic and data-driven book, I like it because she shared her knowledge and data and led us to decide, And the new point of view about getting old was mind-blowing. I highly recommend
Apr 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was included as required reading for a of a post-graduate course I'm enrolled in, which is called, "Creating a Mindful Environment." I was so happy to find that when I logged onto Goodreads, I'd already had it on my to-read list! I had seen it on a list of books to read regarding mental health and creating healthy habits, so I was super pumped that the stars aligned and I *had* to read it.

The book is not at all what I thought it would be, which is why I gave it a single, lonely star.

I was drawn to this book after hearing Krista Tippet interview Ellen Langer on the On Being Podcast which is part of NPR. I didn't realise at the time that Langer's work had been around for so long. As someone who has done a fair bit of reading on the topic of mindfulness, it seemed odd that I'd never heard of her.

A little bit of investigation and reading does clarify the reason for her name's absence in my research though. While there is plenty of overlap in the subjects, Langer is writing abou
Cho Timbol
Feb 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Mindfulness (1989) by Ellen J Langer is about the closest thing we have to a superpower...and also the closest thing we have to kryptonite.


Mindfulness was written out of Ellen Langer's desire to distill years of mindfulness research into a book for laypersons. Today, it is considered one of the most important books ever written on the unity of mind and body.

In my one-sentence review I remarked that mindfulness is both superpower and kryptonite. This is best seen by looking at LABELS and SHIFT
Melsene G
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good basic book and intro into mindfulness. This dates back to 1989 so the research may not be up to date or current as with most psychology books. There are numerous examples, studies, and research on mindfulness which refers to being in the present and having an open mind about things.

We're trapped by categories. We have what is called 'premature cognitive commitment' which claims that the way we first take in information determines how we'll use it later. Early education influences us. The
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Baker
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is written from a Western academic perspective and details studies that show how our perspective or the perspective we are primed with can affect our behavior. It holds up surprisingly well for being published in the late eighties. It is focused on experiments demonstrating that people who are engaged with a level of independence are happier and healthier. I noticed that many of the examples in the book placed control of the situation in an external authority. For example, nursing home ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ok so you might have heard of #Mindfulness as a lifestyle/mindset gig from white women one step smarter than those with Live-Laugh-Love framed woodcut in their kitchen. it's actually a very interesting concept/theory/APPROACH!

if someone asks me about this I'd paraphrase it's major point to "a call on paying attention to how both our present thinking and past preoccupations affect our experiences and output." it's so much more than that ofc but i can't discuss.

this book is great because every poi
Carolyn Yao
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A survey book that weaves together snippets of Langer's arguments how so much of our behaviors and feelings are entangled with our mindsets. Even as the author must have given readers only tips of icebergs of a highly complex web of our minds and our deeds, times and again I was enlightened and was brought to clarity on my life and those in my life--likely because the author is a psychologist, I find that I can relate and understand much better of her book than another popular mindfulness book-- ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, and am surprised I hadn't heard of it until this year, when I was recommended it by a coworker. It's a quick read, with lots of strong takeaways.

It's worth noting that Dr. Langer's work and writing here has little to do with the current trend of mindfulness *meditation*, but is rather a compilation of her many studies looking to understand how we can live more "mindful" lives -- with sometimes stunning (to me) results about how we can impact our health, happiness, int
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School Leaders as...: Group Update 1 4 Oct 13, 2015 05:48PM  
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School Leaders as...: Work/Life Integration 1 4 Sep 20, 2015 05:21PM  

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Ellen Langer, Yale PhD, Harvard Professor of Psychology, artist. Among other honors, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats award for Unifying Psychology, and has authored eleven books and over 200 research articles on the illusion of control, perceived control, successful

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“Mindfulness can encourage creativity when the focus is on the process and not the product.” 5 likes
“Social psychologists argue that who we are at any one time depends mostly on the context in which we find ourselves. But who creates the context? The more mindful we are, the more we can create the contexts we are in. When we create the context, we are more likely to be authentic. Mindfulness lets us see things in a new light and believe in the possibility of change.” 5 likes
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