If we were to explore the possibility of turning back the psychological clock, could we also reverse the physical clock? Dr. Ellen Langer, an award-winning social psychologist with over thirty years of research in this fascinating realm, provides an answer in her book, "Counterclockwise." She asserts that by opening our minds to the realm of the possible instead of presuming something is impossible, we can achieve better health, regardless of our age.
Dr. Langer draws upon significant work in her field and her own collection of vibrant and highly innovative experiments. One notable study she discusses is her "counterclockwise" research, where elderly men lived as though it were 1959 for a week. The remarkable outcomes included improvements in hearing, memory, dexterity, appetite, and overall well-being.
Her thesis revolves around the idea that the magic of rejuvenation and sustained good health lies in our awareness of how we mindlessly react to social and cultural cues. Dr. Langer delves into the subtle decisions and language that shape the medical world (e.g., "chronic" versus "acute," "cure" versus "remission"), the potent physical effects of placebos, and the intricate yet often pessimistic ways we define our physical well-being.
By challenging the assumption that the limits we place on ourselves are genuine, Dr. Langer suggests that with slight shifts in our thinking, language, and expectations, we can begin to transform the ingrained behaviors that drain health, optimism, and vitality from our lives. She has demonstrated various positive results, including improved vision, a more youthful appearance, weight loss, and increased longevity, through her research and findings.
Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a distinguished social psychologist renowned for her groundbreaking work in the field of mindfulness. She holds the distinction of being the first female professor to attain tenure in Harvard University's Psychology Department. Over her illustrious career spanning more than 35 years, Dr. Langer has authored eleven books and contributed to over two hundred research articles, targeting both general readers and scholars with her insights into mindfulness.
Among her notable bestselling books are "Mindfulness," "The Power of Mindful Learning," "On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity," and "Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility." She is set to release her latest work, the "Wiley Mindfulness Handbook," in early 2014. This anthology showcases leading researchers integrating her western scientific mindfulness theories with research on eastern-derived meditation practices.
Dr. Langer is often affectionately referred to as the "mother of mindfulness." Her extensive body of work delves into subjects such as the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress management, decision-making, and health. Her contributions have garnered numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats Award for Unifying Psychology.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recognized her with the Distinguished Contributions Award, citing her as follows: "Her pioneering work revealed the profound effects of increasing mindful behavior, offering new hope to millions whose problems were previously seen as unalterable and inevitable. Ellen Langer has demonstrated repeatedly how our limits are of our own making."
Dr. Langer's expertise has led her to speak as a guest lecturer worldwide, sharing her wisdom in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Switzerland, Argentina, and China. She currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility
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