Health challenges can lead to a negative mindset and pessimistic outlook. In her new book, The Mindful Body: Thinking Our Way to Chronic Health, award-winning social psychologist Ellen J. Langer challenges that mindset and lays out a compelling and practical alternative perspective based on her decades of research. Her theory of mind-body unity and her work on mindfulness, the practice of active noticing in day-to-day life, illuminate how to embrace a different approach that can have a significant impact on well-being.
Ellen Langer joins us from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ellen J. Langer is the author of eleven books, including the international bestseller Mindfulness, which has been translated into fifteen languages, and more than two hundred research articles. She is the recipient of, among other numerous awards and honors, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association, the Award for Distinguished Contributions of Basic Science to the Application of Psychology from the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, and the Adult Development and Aging Distinguished Research Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association.
Langer’s trailblazing experiments in social psychology have earned her inclusion in The New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas” issue and will soon be the subject of a major motion picture. A member of the psychology department at Harvard University and a painter, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Podcast Episodes You May Like
On Taking Up Painting, and Rules & Playfulness
“It’s been great fun for me. I wasn’t limited by rules because I didn’t know what the rules were. I didn’t even know there were rules. I just did it. And so it was a mindful adventure. Anything can be engaged that way. If you’re going to cook and stick religiously to the recipe, it’s not nearly as much fun as, Oh my gosh, I don’t have any sugar. That means I can’t make it. Or what could I substitute it with? I don’t have any cream. Should I use yogurt? You don’t have to be a genius in the kitchen. And part of it is just to go back to the way you and I claim to be, that you have to be lighthearted. You should take what you do seriously, but not take yourselves too seriously. So if I’m painting, why should I expect it to be a masterpiece? And so if I put aside the mindless evaluation, it’s much easier to do it. And if you’re cooking, if you don’t believe this is the last meal you’re ever going to eat or that everybody is going to evaluate you based on how good the meal is, then it’s easy to play around. I actually believe that we should bring that playfulness to everything that we do.”
On Stress and Mind-Body Unity
“I actually think stress is the major killer over and above genetics, diet – over and above everything. And stress is a psychological concept. Now, way back when, the medical world thought that Psychology was important maybe on how to be happy, who knows? But it had nothing to do with health. People don’t believe that anymore. Now they know that there’s a relationship between stress and health. I don’t think anybody goes quite as far as I do. People talk about the Mind-Body connection. They’re not connected. It’s one thing. And that gives us far more control over our health.”
On Mindful Contagion
“Now there’s a simple understanding of mindful contagion. If I’m mindful, you’re going to be mindful because you’re going to feel that I’m paying attention to you. I’m being nurturing. I’m being nonjudgmental. You then can take what initially might’ve seen as a risk for yourself, and the relationship is better. But it also seems that there’s a way that my mindfulness, your mindfulness, a group’s mindfulness, somehow stays in the air and, in some fashion, affects the mindfulness of other people.”
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Joe Casey is an executive coach who also helps people design their next life after their primary career and create their version of The Multipurpose Retirement.™ He created his own next chapter after a twenty-six-year career at Merrill Lynch, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of HR for Global Markets & Investment Banking. Today, in addition to his work with clients, Joe hosts The Retirement Wisdom Podcast, which thanks to his guests and loyal listeners, ranks in the top 1 % globally in popularity by Listen Notes. Business Insider has recognized him as one of 23 innovative coaches who are making a difference. He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.
The views and opinions expressed by guests on The Retirement Wisdom Podcast are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the host, or of Retirement Wisdom, LLC. The Retirement Wisdom Podcast covers the non-financial aspects of retirement. From time to time we may invite guests who discuss other aspects of retirement planning, solely for educational purposes, not advice. Listeners are advised to consult qualified financial and/or medical professionals on those matters.