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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,023 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Ellen J. Langer, Harvard professor of psychology, determines that the mindless following of routine and other automatic behaviors lead to much error, pain and a predetermined course of life. In this thought-provoking book, her research has been "translated" for the lay reader. With anecdotes and metaphors, Langer explains how the mindless--as opposed to the mindful--develo ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 1990 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published April 1st 1989)
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3.81  · 
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 ·  2,023 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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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
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".
Caitlin Krause
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
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
While the first half of the book led me to curiosity of my own mind-less-ness, the second half didn't point me clearly to mind-ful-ness. Overall a quick read that was interesting and concerning research that was probably formative in the explorations of mindfulness, but it left me wanting something more/else.
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
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
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.
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 !!!
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
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.
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.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Fascinating...her studies about mindfulness and aging were so interesting.
Dave Hood
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An illuminating read on mindfulness and roots of mindlessness.
Rhonda Sue
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
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
Philip Looney
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book encourages active thinking. It encourages trying to look at problems and interpersonal conflicts from multiple perspectives so as to look for different options for resolutions rather than being locked into one way of doing things simply because that's the way it's always been done.

For me, the key takeaways were:
- Try and see things from multiple perspectives and avoid unhealthy bias
- Process beats outcome, but make sure the process is working well and not just a mindless construct to b
Funn Atic
Jan 24, 2017 marked it as to-read
Langer is well known for her contributions to the study of mindfulness and of mindless behaviour, with these contributions having provided the basis for many studies focused on individual differences in unconscious behavior and decision making processes in humans.[6] In 1989, she published Mindfulness, her first book, and some have referred to her as the "mother of mindfulness"
Langer, Ellen J. (1989). Mindfulness. Read
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
Prashant Kargeti
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Title of book may be misnomer as our current understanding of Mindfulness is related to Meditation. Instead this book is about various researches on how mindlessness affects negatively and how mindfulness may solve many of our many problems (as an individual or as an organisation). Book gives ample of example of how on basis of our preconceived notions we act on an autopilot.
"Mindlessness is application of yesterday's solution to today's problem."

"Mindfulness is attunement to today's demand to a
James Lang
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Langer researches and promotes a version of mindfulness which is distinct from the more practice-oriented version promoted by Jon Kabat Zinn and many others. She compiles in this book the results of many experiments inviting people to become more aware of the decisions they make, the world around them, the link between mind and body, and more. She is an excellent, humane writer, and her work has the power to improve lives. As Malcolm Gladwell says on the back cover, anyone who writes about psych ...more
John Allen
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In a word: fantastic.

I feel guilty that I'm just now encountering this book. Langer writes with such clarity that is full of insight and precise usage of words it makes it somewhat difficult to read things tended to with less care. Although I was familiar with the idea of mindfulness prior to (finally) reading this book I still learned a lot and was left with plenty to ponder.

Langer is a staunch advocate of Buddhism as you can glean from this book and more obviously in some of her other works.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it really didn't go too deep into any one topic but just discussed different studies and findings from research that all relate to different aspects of mindfulness. It's in no way a how-to manual. I don't recall anything in terms of "here's the steps you need to take" rather it just makes you more aware of how mindlessly you can be moving through life and what evidence/research there is to show how detrimental this can be which in turn can make you more aware of your ow ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Overall I think this book gave me a new perspective on how to look at things. I found it interesting to see how some of the things we do routinely in life without question are done without any true basis, and that just looking back and thinking about them makes you see things differently. In general, I found the book interesting, but the first half was more "close to me".

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a reflexion on themselves and how they've approached problems and various
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I listened to the audio book version of this, which is how I predominately consume non-fiction.

I found it almost impossible to stay mindful while listening to this. The amount of times I had to re-listen to chapters was phenomenal.

It felt like it was basically a run down on every single mindfullness study the author has completed. "This is what I studied, this might be what it means".

Maybe if you had never come across anything on the topic before, this might be good for you, but for someone s
Robin Mandell
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice overview of some of the earlier (70s and 80s) research on memory, focus and concentration. The author's work focused primarily on studying and improving the lives of people with dementia and other age-related health problems. Good stuff. It's not the latest research so shouldn't be taken as the be all and end all. But this is a very readable book and most of the findings have been confirmed or elaborated on in more recent research.
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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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“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
“Mindfulness can encourage creativity when the focus is on the process and not the product.” 4 likes
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