Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility” as Want to Read:
Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  513 ratings  ·  73 reviews
If we could turn back the clock psychologically, could we also turn it back physically? For more than thirty years, award-winning social psychologist Ellen Langer has studied this provocative question, and now, in Counterclockwise, she presents the answer: Opening our minds to what's possible, instead of presuming impossibility, can lead to better health-at any age.

Drawing
...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Counter Clockwise, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Counter Clockwise

The Disease Delusion by Jeffrey S. BlandThe End of Alzheimer's by Dale BredesenThe Bloated Belly Whisperer by Tamara Duker FreumanUndoctored by William  DavisThe Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey
Healthy Aging
305 books — 43 voters
DMT by Rick StrassmanThe Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy NarbyA New Science of Life by Rupert SheldrakeFingerprints of the Gods by Graham HancockThe Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake
Curious Minds
113 books — 107 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  513 ratings  ·  73 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Gita
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely amazing book that provides new perspectives on aging, mindset, perception, and our personal influence over our life experiences. As a music therapist & yoga instructor, I found the theoretical basis for her theories sound, and am encouraged by her scientific approach to researching how our perceptions shape our health. Her clear definition of mindfulness, loosely paraphrased here as "the simple process of actively noticing distinctions" is one of the best explanations I've hear ...more
Carolyn Rose
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't speak to the science in this book, but I can say that it made me more aware of things that cue my opinions and prime my thinking about aging, disease, and depression. So, five stars for waking up my brain.
Steve Li
Feb 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Dr. Langer is a skilled and talented psychologist with an excellent reputation and has made significant contributions to psychology. This makes it all the more surprising that I found the book to seem more like an informercial for 'natural cures'. Her premise that you can 'turn back the clock' and fight off the ravages of aging by practicing mindfulness. She bases this approach on a study done where a group of elderly people were place in a 1959 environment for 1 week and supposedly had physical ...more
FIONA Norris
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
The subtitle of the paperback version of this book, 'A proven way to think yourself younger and healthier' makes it sound a bit happy-clappy, airy-fairy, 'manifest-me-a-new-body sort of thing; but actually, it's full of interesting suggestions for the ways in we, as individuals, and as a society, can improve our experience of ageing. For example, many older people have arthritic conditions, and struggle getting out of car seats, sideways ( my hand is up, here); so why don't car manufacturers mak ...more
Leslie
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book stretches your perceptions of possibility for the ways people look at their health. For example, reading an eye chart from top to bottom causes people to be able to read fewer lines than if it were reorganized so that they were first trying to read small letters and working up to bigger ones. Apparently, this may be due to the different ways our brains interpret an imminent barrier as opposed to an imminent opportunity. Dr. Langer goes through decades of psychological research looking ...more
Rubina
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
A thought provoking book which focuses on the mind-body connection especially in relations to our health. Through the practice of being mindful, Dr Langer provides a different perspective on health and aging. It will likely transform the way you view medicine and help you to learn and change from being a passive recipient to one that is informed and active.
Betty
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read the first chapter and immediately bought this book for my 90-year-old mother. The insights on how perception changed the physicality of aged adults were inspiring. Too often the clock of aging is turned forward, thinking and being treated as older than we are. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is interested in challenging how mindfulness can increase health and happiness.
Laura Engle
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it
This book inspired me and made me think. I especially loved her ability to reframe everything we think about aging and illness in such a simple and practical way. It's all baby steps and...there is way more right with us than wrong.
Jennifer Byers
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't think that Langer's writing style is the most gripping but I appreciate the information that this book has to offer and I think it can begin a conversation that we can have with ourselves around age and how we choose to engage with it.
Alexis
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Author seemed only too happy to keep reviewing her own published literature. While I enjoyed the main argument about patients taking control of their own health, the book seem somewhat repetitive and could have been shorter.
Andrew
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Many of the benefits of mindfulness outlined in this book I ascribe to. Having the right mindset and being mindful of your surroundings and your feelings can change your life for the better. Langer mentioned numerous studies concluding things like: "those who viewed ageing more positively lived, on average, seven and a half years longer than those who were negative about it." I don't dispute a lot of what she is saying - the fact that the placebo effect is even a thing shows us that our thoughts ...more
Price
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
Any work that results in a positive shift in one's thinking merits 5 stars.

We can personally redefine process of aging in a far more positive light. We can continue to break new ground, detour from established patterns and seek new challenges despite our increasing years. Many of the limitations which prevent us from taking these steps are preconceived notions personally held as well as societal expectations defining what is appropriate for a given age.

I took this book out of the library. I inte
...more
Shahana Dostaliyeva
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Bu kitabı Türkiyədə olanda almışdım. Adı marağımı cəlb etmişdi. "Yaşam Yanı Başımızda deməklə görəsən nəyi nəzərdə tutur?" deyə düşünmüşdüm. Oxudum, bitirdim. Əvvəlcə müəllif haqqında onu qeyd edim ki, Ellen J. Langer Harvard universitetinin ilk qadın professorudur. Kitab daha çox fərqli düşünməyi, hadisələrə və gündəlik həyata fərqli gözlə baxmağı vurğalayır. Araşdırmalar və onların nəticələri kitabın məzmununu təşkil edir. Hər kitab kimi bu kitabdan da həyatıma qatdığım bir neçə cümlə oldu.

"As
...more
Sue Ronnenkamp
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book blew me away when I first read it years ago, but it was also well worth reading again now. Especially since I’m in a health care role again. AND because I’m older and experiencing things about aging that I wasn’t when I first read Langer’s research and findings and ideas about the power of our words and mindset for aging well and living healthy. I highly recommend this book to any and all who want to become active participants in their health and how they live each day - along with bec ...more
Qazwsx
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author is essentially postulating that the software of the brain is partially under our control and can effect how your body functions.

The hardware of the body (and the rest of the universe) is less malleable and she doesn’t seem to draw clear distinction. So there is a fair amount of ‘woo woo’ going on.

But I’m all for hacking your brain, so I’m going to keep reading
Alejandro
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Power of Possibility

I have just finished reading this book. What a great reminder of the awesome power of Possibility in our lives, frequently we live or days with a fixed mindset, accepting everything as is without questioning. That is a limiting view of what is possible. Let's open or minds to wonderful possibilities and enjoy more rewarding lives.
Alisa Gamblin
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved how this book challenges what we think on a daily basis. Our minds and our thoughts play such an important part in our everyday health and life. Simple changes to what we think and what we belief can make all the difference to our experience of life. A great read.
Peahen
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are more possibilities

Perspective increases the possibilities, but also helps you evaluate the choices available. There is more to weighing the pros and cons than numeracy.
Janet Wertman
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Enjoyed it, appreciated the new insight...but it felt like the author was trying to stretch what should just have been a great article.
Thomas
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
My friend Brad gave me this book as a gift. The last two books that I received from him were gems: Journeys of Simplicity by Philip Harnden and Imrov Wisdom:Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson. This is a companion piece to those two superb books. These two books have been essential aids to my understanding of the universe for the past two years.

I just became aware of Dr. Langer’s recent work. She is best known for a unique 1979 study of nursing home residents. A group of resear
...more
Nelda Pearson
I heard the author on the Talk IQ On Being program hosted by Krista Tippet--an excellent show btw--and was impressed enough to buy the book. Before I go further I must say I have a PhD in sociology and was a professor for 30+ years Unfortunately I was disappointed, perhaps due to my professional back ground. Her ideas have been around for a long time and include role theory, labelling, stereotyping, and self fulfulling prophecy. All concepts taught in introductory sociology. The research is old ...more
Bill Pritchard
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I ended up liking Counter Clockwise - Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen Langer more and more as I made my way thru the book. At times I found myself not being mindful of the words on the page. But as the book progressed, I began to understand the core message of the book. Her research makes clear that actively noticing new things is literally or figuratively enlivening. Not only is it not tiring, it is exhilarating. It is the way we feel when we are fully engaged. There seems ...more
sandy
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I heard about this book when the author did a recent interview on NPR. She talked about this book and the fascinating study she did with the elderly, which I thought was incredibly innovative with eye opening results. I had hoped that she would talk more about the study in the book, but it was merely used as a springboard for the message she went over ad nauseum till it just got really tiresome. Basically the fact that nothing is certain, and you should not affix mindless value to medical progno ...more
Alan
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I subscribe to all of the ideas about mindfulness that Langer describes in this book - there is good advice here but a lot of it is common sense with a good measure of critical thinking. I give Langer credit for looking at the labels we use to describe illness and concluding that most of them have bias and too many are vague. The best part of the book describes Langer's health studies, especially the one in which she took a large group of elderly people from a nursing home where the staff said t ...more
Tracy
I read this for a class on ministry to seniors. It was a pretty good read, given this isn't really my genre. I like Langer's challenging attitude towards science and so much of what we assume we know about aging (she's a professor of psychology -- at Harvard-- not medical science). She's done a lot of cool experiments that I've seen referenced other places, and between reading this book and Atul Gawande's BEING MORTAL, my ideas of aging have really turned around. I think this will be helpful as ...more
Laura
Nov 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the type of book I usually read but I was intrigued by Langer's Counter Clockwise experiment. In this book, Langer urges us to view aging as more of a process, not as degeneration, and to be aware of our language as it applies to various aspects of our life and health in the belief that we can create our own placebo effect just by changing our attitudes. If more of us were to apply her ideas to the aging process, we might approach it with a little less fear. I'm not sure this was a l ...more
MM
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was curious to know more about the "counterclockwise" experiment Langer ran -- bringing elderly men together, prompting them to act like it was still the 50s, and then finding that their physical health improved after the experiment. So that was interesting, yes, and Langer cites all kinds of interesting psychological studies. But I can't help but wonder why the social psychologists don't seem to be in conversation with the critical theorists, cultural studies folks, or feminists. All explore ...more
Megan
Jun 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I really like the concepts in this book, particularly keeping an open mind about your own health once you have a diagnosis, and not letting yourself or anyone else put you in a box and slap a label on it! There are many ways to approach most, if not all, health issues and its up to each person to explore that to the extent of their ability/desire. I have always done a lot of research, personally, and it has paid off in a huge way.

That said, I have a lot of trouble getting through this author's b
...more
Thomas
Jul 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Brutally bad. Poorly written and surprisingly anti-scientific for a Harvard professor. I had been considering this professor for a potential graduate-school advisor and after reading this book, it was clear her "science" is of a very poor quality. Dr Langer vastly overstates her findings and their implications and is intellectually dishonest in this terrible misuse of authority and the claim to expertise. A travesty.
Gina
For as much as the book was touted to be about mindfulness, I found that angle to be a stretch. However, the social psych studies included were presented well. It would be a nice, slim volume for a beginning med student or social psychology course. Currently going through some medical problems myself, I found her perspective on the doctor-patient relationship and categorization of sick-well (versus a % of both or continuum) to be personally most helpful.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life
  • How To Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You
  • Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth
  • Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith
  • Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
  • Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
  • The Happiness Manifesto
  • Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Lasting Relationship
  • Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths
  • A Primer in Positive Psychology
  • The Individual In A Social World: Essays and Experiments
  • Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide
  • The Scavengers' Manifesto
  • The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope
  • Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
  • The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation
  • Trauma Releasing Exercises
67 followers


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
...more
“The hefty price for accepting information uncritically is that we go through life unaware that what we’ve accepted as impossible may in fact be quite possible.” 10 likes
“It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mindset about our physical limits.” 5 likes
More quotes…