season 2 episode 9 – be confident in your uncertainty | Ellen Langer
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[00:00:00] Nir Hindi: Dr. Langer. It is such a great honor to have you on our podcast. Welcome to the Artian podcast.
Dr. Ellen Langer: Thank you, Nir.
Nir Hindi: Dr. Langer, you are considered the mother of mindfulness and you have been researching this topic in the last 30 years, maybe more 40. So, I am already happy to know that um, we have such an interesting topic to discuss mindfulness and obviously art.
Now I want to kind of maybe set the stage here and ask you, what do you mean being mindful? What is it exactly being mindful?
Dr. Ellen Langer: You know, Nir it is, it is very funny. It is so simple. It almost defies belief. When you think of the consequences that result from being mindful. So, mindfulness, as we study it, is the very simple process of actively noticing new things.
When you actively notice new things that puts you in the present, makes you sensitive to context and perspective, and it is the process of [00:01:00] engagement. So, it feels good. And we have data showing that is energy creating rather than consuming. So, it feels good. It is good for you. The results, um, have over, you know, I have done a lot of studies has been, as you have said a lot of years and we find that people are healthier.
They are happier. Their work improves relationships, and it affects virtually everything. And what is pleasing to me is that it does not require practice. It is a very natural process. So, if you are going to come visit me right now, I am in Cape Cod my house. If you have never been here before, you would get off the plane and.
Everything would seem new to you and you would be looking for all the new things and you would be enjoying yourself. You would not have to practice it. But the reason that most people, most of the time are mindless, which is sad, but true is because they think they know. And when you [00:02:00] think, you know, there is no reason to sit up and pay any attention.
And so, what people need to realize is that uncertainty is the rule, not the exception. Everything is always changing. Everything looks different from different perspectives. So, if you really understood that it was all new, then you would naturally just be mindful the way children are. For example, the way you would be if you came to visit,
Nir Hindi: You said so many things that I already want to ask you about, but before that, I want to take you a kind of one step backward.
You mentioned that people can become healthier, happier, and better energy, but in one of the interviews you said that we are kind of taught to be mindless.
Dr. Ellen Langer: Yes. Well, you know, I am not sure exactly why I am. I am very sure that it is true. I would guess that we are taught to be mindless because that maintains the power structure.
That leaves, the status quo [00:03:00] in place. You know, you do not question your position in society. If everything is always changing and you see everything can be understood in different ways. And that you must ask who decided what the criteria are for excellence. And once you do that, and then you say that there are different criteria that could be used, then you have different people who may end up on top.
So that is one possibility. I do not know, but schools around the globe teach us to look for absolutes. You know, the one that I am fond of saying, try to explain this to people I might ask how much is one in one. So Nir how much is one in one. So, say, you have heard me say this before the way the whole world, the world will know the answers, but you know, you say two, but it turns out that even the simplest fact that we think we, we know for sure is not always two.
If you added. [00:04:00] Oh, let us say one pile of laundry to one pile of laundry. One plus one equals one, one, a wad of chewing gum. Plus, one wad of chewing gum, one plus one equals one. In fact, in the real world, one plus one probably does not equal two as often as it does, not only that, but one plus one, equaling two is based on a base 10 number system.
If you are using the base two number system, one plus one is written as 10. So, once you see that you do not know, then you tune in and everything becomes new and exciting. Now, part of the reason that people want to feel that they know they want these absolutes is because they think it gives them more control over the world.
Over their lives. But in fact, it robs you of control because you are holding things still. When in fact they are varying, and it is much easier to recognize that you do not know when you see that you really cannot know because it is [00:05:00] changing. And as I said, it looks different from different perspectives. So, you have lots of people around the world, especially in business settings, schools as well, where they pretend, because I know, I do not know.
You may know, I do not want you to know that. I do not know. And so, I, at least the last and authentic interactions, however, once you know that, I do not know, but I know you do not know either because you cannot know, then not knowing. It has a different feel to it. So, I am suggesting that instead of making a personal attribution for uncertainty, which is, I do not know, but it is knowable to make a universal attribution.
I do not know. You do not know. Nobody can know again because it is.
Nir Hindi: There is a story about me. Often people ask me, oh, you are the experts. And I tell them, that is the worst curse you can tell me an expert. I do not want to be an expert because I want to know that I do not know. So at least I would be curious to continue and explore and [00:06:00] challenge my own way of thinking.
And what you said about not knowing and feeling comfortable with-it kind of link directly to art, which leads me to the reason I so wanted to have you on this podcast because in 2005, you published a book on becoming an artist re-inventing yourself through mindful creativity. Now, honestly, when I read it, I was amazed by the topics you already discussed 16 years ago is like, ah, some of the ideas that you mentioned over their kind of became so popular in the last two, three years, but it is probably things that you have been dealing for.
years. I want to ask you, what do you mean when you say mindful creativity?
Dr. Ellen Langer: So Nir, this is funny. So, the first book I published in this series is called mindfulness. The second book I published was called mindful learning. So, the first question that I was asked in the past was what the difference between mindful learning and mindfulness is.
[00:07:00] And there is no difference. It is just that you must have a new title with each book. So, um, it is the same thing with mindful creativity. Creativity is, is an interesting topic where people think that it is a function of the product and it is not mindfulness is the process. And if you engage in a mindful process, you are probably going to end up with a better product.
But so, the difference between creativity and mindfulness is again the attention to product or process. So, if I developed the theory of relativity. Nobody is going to applaud me because I am signed it at first. However, it would still be mindful if I came up with it myself.
Nir Hindi: That’s very interesting. A new perspective for me.
So, I want to ask you what led you to get into art. How did you find yourself becoming an artist?
Dr. Ellen Langer: There were, there was a time, I guess it was [00:08:00] 2004 or 3, whenever it was where it just seemed to rain the whole summer.
And so, everybody is stuck in their houses. Can we go out because it is not freezing, this is still a summer rain, but all the gay, you know, activities like tennis and so on that, we would be playing. We were not playing. So, at some point I left the house, and I went to see, uh, had to deliver something to a friend.
Or just met a friend someplace at the hardware store or wherever it was. And she said she was an artist and she said, so how are you spending your time? I do not know why I said this. Uh, you know, I said, um, you know, I told her what I was doing, whatever it was. And I said, what I am thinking of taking up art, I do not know where it came from.
And she is like, oh, that is wonderful. She dragged me back to her studio and she gave me two tiny canvases, small canvases. And as a gift. And she said, I said, well, you know, I only need one because I did not think I was going to use even that. And she said, no, no, take both because it should not [00:09:00] be too precious.
You should not have to be so concerned with what you are doing. If you only have one later that day, I had to visit. Uh, somebody who is an extraordinary artist, and we are talking, and then she said to me something, I do not remember what she said. I must have been some version of, so how you are keeping yourself busy, which was the question you asked everybody since all it was doing was raining.
And I said to her, This has become my, this is what you say to an artist because I am thinking of taking art and she then said, call fabulous, get yourself a giant canvas and just do it well. So, one is the tiny canvas. One is a Diane, but the instruction was the same, was the, just do it. So, I get back to my house with the little, tiny canvas, but I found a shingle and I did not have many paints, arounds, you know, house paints, but I painted something on the shingle.
And I was just doing it. And then I saw it was interesting. It was a girl on a horse, sort of a [00:10:00] girl sort of horse because I cannot draw, um, uh, racing through the woods. And I thought, well, gee, it is interesting. I wonder if the fact that I painted it on wood led to the content. You know, going through the woods.
And so, it started to have some psychological meaning to me. And I really liked, um, the little painting. And as I say, in the, in the book, you know, I did not know how to evaluate whether it was any good. I knew because there were people, if I showed it to just because I did it, they would say it was great.
And there would be just as many because I did it, it would say it was awful. So. Well, I went to a store, an art supplies store, and I said, you know, I asked them, should I paint over this? Or just, you know, whatever it is, and you know, and that person also liked it. Could have also been for other reasons who knows, but now my career and my art career had started.
And what I did was I would paint [00:11:00] and then something would happen, and it would interest me as a psychologist. And, uh, so then I would run a study to see if what had happened was true in general, or just, you know, for me for some peculiar reason. And that is how, um, all the, the study is using art to begin with started, you know, to discover that once you make a mistake and you go forward with that mistake rather than go back that the painting, the drawing, the essay.
Whatever it is, you are creating comes alive and the superior oddly, to even when you do not make a
Nir Hindi: So, I want to stop you over here and ask you a question because, and I quote, over here from the book, because I think the topic of mistakes is so important in our society and the quotes go like this.
“Consider the following. You are in the weeds of drawing and you make a mistake. There are four possible ways for you to think about what. To do next one, consider it as a mistake and since [00:12:00] mistakes are intolerable, throw the drawing out. Two consider the work you have put into the drawing. take another look at the mistake and conclude you will live with it.
Three, try to fix the mistakes so that everything just as it was before you made it four reconsider the mistake and decide to take advantage of it.” Now, if I got it, Correct. You recommend kind of option.
Dr. Ellen Langer: No, I strongly recommend option four, but you know, let me interrupt you because, you know, as I said, so I would start with a painting.
Something would happen in this case, the mistake. And then I would think about it and run a study, but this one turns out, I think, to be rather important that for everything that we are doing, whether in business. Our art, no matter where we decide how to do it. And then what we do once we go forward, we forget that what we are doing was based on a [00:13:00] decision and for something to be a decision means there was uncertainty.
So, to start off, you are uncertain. You decide what to do. You start doing it. Now you make a mistake. Now, if you make that mistake and you forget that you were not sure what to do in the first place. You know, instead, once we make the decision, we act as if the decision was given to us from the heavens or something.
And so, if you have that view, then of course you want to immediately correct it and go back to where you had initially started, because that was the right answer. But if you retain the, you know, the understanding that no, it was just a decision. There was uncertainty. So why not go someplace? You know, you were not sure in the first place.
And then it is much easier. And as I said before that in these studies, what we find is after the products are created and we have other people evaluate them, those that were a result of a [00:14:00] mistake was considered superior. To even no mistake because when you are not making mistakes, very often, you are doing what you are doing mindlessly.
And somehow that leaves its imprint on the product we
Nir Hindi: It is interesting because you suggest incorporating the mistakes into the plan, but businesses do not like mistakes. I mean, specifically if I put it in my world, you are being punished for. Making mistakes. How can individual that listen to us now can incorporate his or her mistake on their day to day, even in the Marine environment that might.
Punish them for their mistakes.
Dr. Ellen Langer: Well, you know, you may be punished for your mistake unless you come up with a superior product, you know? So, um, we go back to a company that was trying to produce a glue and they put lots of money, resources, ego into producing this glue. And what happened is the glue fail to adhere.
[00:15:00] So a terrible mistake, right? Very, very costly. And they could have ended there and done one of those four things that you cited. They could have just said, you know, oh my God, this is not for me. I am just giving up the whole company and so on. But instead, what they did was took advantage of the property failure to adhere.
And created the post-it note. And I think 3M made far more money with post-it notes than they would have yet another glue, but who knows, but, you know, so in other words, once you make the mistake and you make use of that mistake at the end, you end up with possibly a superior product and no one is going to punish you for that.
And I do not know who wants to work in that sort of business anyway, where you are. You know, I, I did this consulting many years ago for this very big, uh, power and light company. And they had a policy of zero accidents, zero mistake centrally. [00:16:00] And the first thing I told them is all they are doing is increasing the probability of lives.
Mistakes will happen. And so, uh, rather than run for, from them. Exploit the power that, that you can find in that mistake. And all of that, again, is much easier to do when you recognize the original plan was just the choice. There was no way of knowing if it was good or bad at the outset, you know, even as simple thing, you know, do you want to go an ad for a falafel or for Chinese group?
That as soon as you ask the question, it is because, you know, they seem at that moment equal to you. So, if you say, okay, we will let us go for a falafel and you go to the falafel stand and the guy closed the stand. And so, it seems like it was a bad decision, right? Because you cannot get the falafel. If you were aware that you were not sure.
Did you want Chinese food or falafel in the first place now? You would probably say, okay, great. Let us go get Chinese food. You know, whereas if you say, [00:17:00] yeah, you say the only way I can be satisfied now is with a falafel. I mean, if you were in Israel, I guess it would be easy to find another place.
Nir Hindi: I really love it.
The example that you gave with the forecast that if we say it is going to be 65 degrees and then we get it wrong. So, it is a mistake where people would say it is about 65.
or maybe a
- He should have one world. Kind of allow us room for much more possibilities.
Dr. Ellen Langer: Science is based on probabilities, but the problem is that those probabilities become absolute facts in lectures, oftentimes, uh, certainly in textbooks.
And so, what happens is people are taught from the beginning of school, straight through their lives to expect. That things can be certain, and you know, so deviating from a certainty, it feels very different from deviating, from a probability. And [00:18:00] you just go into it quite differently.
as you were suggesting.
Nir Hindi: Totally. This sounds like a quote. Let us take a short break and then we will continue.
great, Dr. Langer, many of the things that you say kind of relate a lot to art, whether I want to see it or whether it is, it is like that. But I hear quite often that companies and organizations want to put humans in.
In the center and there is an even now a term for its user, a human centric design. And for me art is, was an ease, always about human, for human, about human. And one of the things you said is that the goal with your book was to put people back in the equation. What do you mean?
Dr. Ellen Langer: The,
when we develop facts, we often act as if somehow again, they were [00:19:00] handed down from the heavens.
When we put people back in the equation, suggesting how this fact came about, uh, it becomes clear. That it could have been a little different, you know, even with science to go back to experiments, you run a study, you choose your variables and your independent variables, and then you take your measures.
And so, on that with a slightly different, let us say if I were assessing the effectiveness of a drug, you would have to decide. How much of that drug to give when to give it to whom to give it? How often to give now there is an art to this before the drug is ever given to anybody is ever tested.
There is no way of knowing, you know, if you give a tiny bit that does not mean, and it does not work more. Might have worked if you give too much then it might not work. Whereas if you gave a little less, it might work. And so, all of these [00:20:00] decisions. That are made by the scientists are ignored or people are blind to them when you are given the results of the studies.
So, what I am telling you is that there is an art to the science. There is an art to all decision-making. Everything is if everything is uncertain and then everything is in some sense of guess. And when you appreciate that, then there is, there is much more room for, for people to, um, explore different ways of doing things.
No. When I say putting people back in the equation, what I am saying is that you know, an example I used, let us say there is a sign, uh, on somebody’s lawn that says, keep off the grass. Even something solely like that people act as if, I do not know, you must keep off the grass. No Israeli would, but possibly new Yorkers would, but most people in the rest of the world now [00:21:00] imagine that the sign said, Ellen says.
Keep off the grass. So, you are going to say, who’s Ellen, maybe I can negotiate with her. Maybe she does not even live here anymore. Maybe she now has different feelings about her lawn. Everything becomes mutable, all sorts of possibilities result. So, what happens is if you want people to blindly obey, you, leave people out of the equation.
You say cigarettes are bad for your health period. If you want people to make their own decisions, you might say in this study by Ellen and Nir, uh, they found that when you do this for most people, this is what you find that is very different, right? And so, then people can choose to follow or not follow. Like they are not, you know, suggesting people should smoke or not smoke.
It is just to make the point. You know, you walk into a room, you sit down at a chair you are uncomfortable. Now, if you [00:22:00] recognize that the height of that chair, the width of that chair, every aspect of that chair was a decision that a person made. And could have been decided differently. So, if it does not make you comfortable, you are more likely if you realize this to bring a pillow, to put something under the legs of the chair, to make it higher and to, to change things.
So, putting people back in the equation, making everybody aware that it was person constructed, whether it is an idea or a thing, gives people more control over their lives and recognizing that they can change it to better meet.
Nir Hindi: So, it is.
kind of leads to my next question, because along these lines, I also see how being mindful how putting people in the center again.
Kind of come through the search that you did with the example of the classic. orchestra the, basically, even though it is a very structured and [00:23:00] very definite a way to. Execute this piece. You allowed room and that is brought different results. Can you tell us about this?
So, I have a question for you. Do you think that our two artists invite this way of exploration or being comfortable with the?
Dr. Ellen Langer: Pro, if you took a random group of artists and a random group of any, you know, businessman, uh, probably, but you know, that art can be done, mindlessly and business can be done mindfully.
And so, you know, I think that the more sucks. The success of many businesses is function of the mindfulness of the people in charge.
Nir Hindi: So
I have another question for you now because I go back to mindful creativity and as passionate about art and creativity, most of us probably did our last artwork when we were in six or eighth grade.
And you see it always with people that they kind [00:24:00] of, when they get to the real life. It is set aside, but you have a very nice sentence that I like that you say now is yesterday later, why we shy away from creativity? Why not to take advantage and why you encourage people to do it now?
Dr. Ellen Langer: Yeah, well, you know, I did not start painting until I was 50 years old, and I was one of those kids in school who thought people who could, you know, people who are.
Talented where people who could draw or saying, I cannot carry a tune either, but I sing all the time. Um, and, um, you know, it, it came about, again by somebody, I wondered what mark a child could put on a page that would lead a teacher to lead them to believe that they cannot do it. You know, when you look at famous artists, you go from Piet Mondrian, Picasso, in addition to the Rembrandts.
And so, on that art is, can be so many [00:25:00] different things. And the act of creating is so exciting that people should not be denied. Should not deny themselves even cooking the same thing. You know, you can cook by religiously following the recipe. And being nervous if, you know, if a little too, too much salt or you run out of sugar or whatever it is, or you can again say this recipe was just developed by people.
And if you go back to art and you say, no, the impressionists that people pay millions and millions of dollars for that art was initially rejected. And then something happened where I have this friend who drinks too much. And she was an art collector. A very wealthy, uh, woman who, uh, saw some of my paintings and said she had too much to drink.
So now Ellen, you know, I think there is something there because now do not go thinking that you are Rembrandt. And because they had a little [00:26:00] too much to drink. I did tell her, but I said to myself at that time and Rembrandt is not me. And what that meant was that if I am the best Ellen Langer, no one can do me better than I can.
And I would rather be an original Ellen Langer than a 5 million, 500,000. Uh, Rembrandt never quite being as good as Rembrandt, but I not come nowhere near it, but my art is entirely different things. But the main thing is that creating it as such fun, the idea that when you start does not really get exciting for me until I make a mistake.
Yeah, I start off, what should I paint that case? I am going to paint. I am looking at you with the, uh, plant behind you. That is what I am going to paint. And I started, it does not look anything like you, it barely even looks like the plant. So, then I step away for a second. I come back and I look, I said, well, what does it like rather than what doesn’t it look like?
And that is the same thing [00:27:00] with what you were saying before about making any mistake, you know, what else might it be? And, um, then just go forward with it. You cannot make a mistake if you do not know where you are going. If I am trying to do an exact replica of you and it does not look like you that is a mistake, but if I wanted an exact replica of you, I could just take a photograph anyway.
But the reason I think that people should engage in these artistic pursuits is just because it is fun. It is engaging. It is a way to being mindful, but you do not have to do art. I think that one should live. Life this way. And you live life this way. When you are aware of a few things, one that virtually everything is, was put there by people, which means that other people could have put it there differently, which gives you lots of latitude to do it your own way.
When you realize that evaluation is not in the thing that you are creating, [00:28:00] but rather it is a view, people are taking of that. Things of this sort and recognizing that what is good today may be considered bad tomorrow and good, uh, the day after. And so, on that all these things change, you know, even, uh, how to be in a, in a general way that no matter how you are, if somebody wants to see it as negative, there is a way to do so.
You know, I did this thing when I was very young. I did this thing for a friend that I thought was fabulously generous and she thought I was being grandiose. Yeah. I guess to be, to try to be that generous. Maybe grandiose, you know? And so, then I started thinking more about it and realized everything can be turned inside out.
So, I am fabulously trusting, and that makes me very gullible. Um, I am wonderfully flexible. [00:29:00] But that makes me inconsistent. Um, I am a very spontaneous, but you know, that makes me impulsive. So, the point is that no matter what behavior we are describing, there is an equally potent. But oppositely balanced alternative.
So, when you recognize that, no matter what you do, if somebody wants to make it into something bad, they can do that. Then you are freer to sort of do what you want to do. And if people do. Do it their own way. Then life becomes much more exciting and meaningful. Too many people sell out. You can do it your way or their way, whoever they are, and you can succeed, or you can fail.
And to me, the costliest is when you give up what matters to you and you do it their way and you fail,
Nir Hindi: you
define yourself untaught artist. Not self-taught. [00:30:00] What do you mean? Untaught artist,
Dr. Ellen Langer: you know,
self-taught, uh, suggest that now you have a specific way of doing things. Untaught, is that the moment determines how you are going to do you take every sentence that I write, which was very flattering and assume there was enormous wisdom for every word.
Written, but, you know, so I think they call him myself untaught it was to stress that, um, in many ways I have no idea what I am doing, but yeah, I am having a good time. If I were to try to make, make that sound fancy, then I give my original explanation, which is that untaught suggests that it is not rule.
Nir Hindi: Yeah, you are speaking. I hear all the time, a characteristic that I see often among artists probably among probably psychologists and scientists and entrepreneur as well is questioning, always questioning the norms, the rules, et cetera. So, if we are talking about questionings, now, what I want to do is that I have a series of.
[00:31:00] Quotes by you. And I would like to get your thoughts on each one of them, if that is okay with you and the first one saying, be confident in your uncertainty, what do you mean?
Dr. Ellen Langer: Okay. People conflate confidence and certainty. I think that is a mistake. As I have said, since everything is uncertain, that the stance that one should assume aspire to is to be confident.
But uncertain, you know, so that is why, you know, I walk around, and I am, I am happy, and I am confident. Um, and I have no idea what is going to happen and that is just fine because I do not think anybody else does either.
Nir Hindi: I am like you in that the second quote, when we look at, art in museums, we can see how many disparate styles there are, but we act in our creative life is if there is one single standard.
What do you mean?
Dr. Ellen Langer: If I asked people who think that they can draw to draw a [00:32:00] horse many would be paralyzed by the thought of having to draw something. But if you look through time across culture, you have. Very many varieties of horses from single lines, from someone let us say like Picasso to very involved, uh, detailed work and so on.
And when you recognize all these things, different styles, it is easier. Again, I think for you to pursue your own and to create what does a horse mean to you? Who decides, you said part of the book talks about, our notions of talent as if again, the criteria come from the heavens who decides, uh, how big something should be, how dark it should be, how light these are all matters of preference.
Not again, uh, things that are dictated. And so, I think that, you know, for me everything becomes. Uh, a question of [00:33:00] interest, you know, if I were to buy a pocketbook, which I have not done for 40 years, but if I were not to, it is probably not entirely true. Um, you know, and they had bags that were round and bags that were rectangular and bags that were square.
And I found myself looking more at one shape than another. I would then ask myself why. And that would be interesting to me. Why is it that let us say something rectangular is more interesting to me, um, than something round? And was that the way it was 10 years ago? And you know, what is it all mean? So, no matter what one is doing, there is a way to make it interesting and exciting.
Now I think the conversation I have with myself about. Shapes probably would not be interesting to many people, but there are always questions that can be asked, but you do not ask the question when you think that everything is a nice, neat.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. Many people, tell me often that I ask too many questions, but just like you, it is like, I am always [00:34:00] interested why things the way they are and why we do what we do.
So, in another.
Dr. Ellen Langer: But
I think something you should add to that is how could we do it differently? And how can we do it differently from that and so on. So, what happens is that in schools, in families is people when they ask questions are expecting and are satisfied with single answers. And I think, uh, starting that the first time somebody asks a question, uh, multiple answers should be given, well, you know, it could be this, it could be this, it could be this.
And, you know, it creates for the individual, I think a very different world growing up. World of
Nir Hindi: So totally, totally, totally agree with everything you say. Um, that is why I really love art because art is open-ended art invites, possibilities. What you see, what I see, what person totally different.
will see, everyone can see different things, and nobody must be the one that is the right one [00:35:00] because there is no right answer. So, I have another quote that I love by you. And you say believing is sin. What do you mean?
Dr. Ellen Langer: Yeah. Well, people typically think seeing is believing, um, especially in today’s world where they can, um, take any image and, you know, you can take an image of a man and make them a woman make somebody old and somebody young put somebody who is never worn a bathing suit into the, you know, into the ocean.
You know, and so on. So, you cannot really believe what you see, but prior to all this technology, people said, seeing is believing, but it turns out that your beliefs determine what you see. And so, it is very important. That you open those beliefs so that you open all that you can see, you know, when you are looking for exes and, you know on a page with X’s and O’s and whatever else.
All, you [00:36:00] notice that the X’s and so you want to, in a sense, loosen your expectation. I just did this research. So, this is. We will say more conjecture because we have not replicated it yet, but, um, you know, when you are looking for something and you cannot find it. And then it turns out it was right in front of you.
Have you had that experience? Do you know where he is? Every day? Okay. So, I think most people have had it. And what happens is when you are looking for something, you sort of tighten your image, your expectation of what it is, you know, if you were looking for that pen that is in your hand, you would try to.
Get us a better idea, just what that pen looked like and then search. But the way to find that idea is to lose them, your expectation, because the pen you are expecting it to be like this, you know, one orientation and it may be like this. And so, you are [00:37:00] not going to see it, or, you know, your, your phone, um, you know, it could be a miss angle and you are looking for this.
And so, if you learn about things conditionally in the first place, then it is easier to. Remember them find them in the second place. But so, all that rigidity that we, that we impose on ourselves, all that mindlessness that is done in the service of having control over our lives is so costly. Even with the simple point of finding items, you know, that our expectations, the strong year expectation, the more blind you are going to be to any deviation.
from that expectation.
Nir Hindi: I think you also said that. Once we are taught to think inside the box, then we are taught to think outside the box, but you always asking who put the box.
Dr. Langer, we are getting into the end of the podcast. I really, really enjoy our conversation. I am kind of interested. [00:38:00] We are talking about the book that was published in 2005, which I highly recommend everyone to read because it is relevant in every point. And I wonder. Do you think something has changed since you published this book toward mindfulness toward a more creative life toward intersection of both?
Dr. Ellen Langer: Um, well, I do not think that things have changed because of that book, sadly. Because I think that people do not realize that the book is about interpersonal mindfulness. They just think it is about art. So only people interested in art probably read it, but there are several books that I have written since.
And I think cumulatively from the first book, mindfulness to the last one, which. Counter-clockwise and the new one that I am, you know, will publish soon, um, has, has helped change things the world in some way that, you know, I was in Chicago, not that [00:39:00] long ago. And there was a restaurant the name of which was, uh, the mindful burger.
And then my students, you know, send me things, the mindful pizza. I mean, the word is out there. I hope it does not get. Distorted too much from what the original meaning is. And many people confuse mindfulness as I study it and not surprisingly with meditation. And it has nothing to do with meditation.
Meditation is fine, but that is an activity you go through to lead to post meditative mindfulness. Mindfulness as we study it. You know is immediate. It is not a practice. It is just a way of being that comes about by recognizing. You do not know, you just notice new things you see, you do not know, and then you naturally tune into them.
I think that there has been, um, beginning of an evolution in consciousness and some might say a revolution that, yeah, things, things have changed and will continue to [00:40:00] change.
And that is why I do all this podcast, lecturing and writing to help facilitate a change because. To my mind, too many people are sealed in unlived lives and that it is time to break the seal and stop being so afraid, um, and just get out there and, um, be, and people hesitate because they think that all these rules and regulations and routines have been.
Discerned as the only way to be. And so, living a life in a tight jacket, it was not.
as much fun
Nir Hindi: Dr. Langer. I think I cannot finish this podcast better. And with that, I want to say really. Thank you for taking the time to share all your wisdom. I know I enjoy it from reading the book from listening to other individuals you gave, and from today’s conversation.
Dr. Ellen Langer: My pleasure Nir [00:41:00] stay well.
Nir Hindi: Thanks.