Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I read something today that put together two issues I think about--just noticing things and trying not to feel so badly about making mistakes.
To [Ellen] Langer, mindfulness means noticing new things and drawing new distinctions. "It doesn't matter whether what you notice is smart or silly," she says, "because the process of actively drawing new distinctions produces that feeling of engagement we all seek. It's much more available than you realize: all you need to do is actually notice new things...." Everyone says they want to live in the present... "So how do you get there? This work tells us how: when you're actively noticing new things, you become more aware of context and perspective. You end up with a healthier respect for uncertainty, something we are taught to fear. Our baseline state should be mindful; it's how we should feel virtually all the time."

What stops us, according to Langer, are our fears of evaluation, our acceptance of absolutes, and our mindless ideas about mistakes. All three are actually different facets of the same sensibility "Anything hierarchical suggests that there is a single metric--a 'right' way of understanding the world, and better and worse ways to view things," she explains. "But the world is a social construct. Mistakes are not mistakes in all contexts. With writing and art, mistakes tend to make the product more interesting."
From an article on the Science of Happiness in Harvard Magazine.

1 comment:

Joann said...

Interesting article. I've spoken to Martin Seligman about his studies on Learned Optimism. As someone with a Humanistic Psych background, the article is very affirming. I'm glad to see that there are more people becoming interested in resilience and being present in the moment. So many of us wish our lives away. I've been committing myself to a more positive attitude lately, and I think it helps a lot in coloring my perspectives. I've also been thinking of changing the colors of my surroundings. I'm considering a "painting party" soon. My home IS my retreat, so it'll be differnt colors of a soothing nature, but I like the inforamation in this article very much. Fun read.