Mindfulness, Power of Possibilities

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A Harvard Psychologist Gets The Hollywood Treatment

Does mind make the body age?

Robin Young, on her radio show, Here and Now, recently interviewed Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and author of Counter Clockwise, Mindful Health and the Power of Possibilities about about what she calls mindfulness and mindlessness — and about the power of psychology on physical health.

Drawing on her own body of colorful experiments—including the first detailed discussion of her landmark 1979 “counterclockwise” study in which elderly men lived for a week as though it was 1959 and seemed to grow younger—and important works by other researchers, Langer discussed how studies prove that the magic lies in being aware of the ways we mindlessly react to cultural cues.

Her book shows how we can actively challenge these ingrained behaviors by making subtle changes in our everyday lives. The author describes ways to reorient our attitudes and language in order to achieve better health; she shows us the ways in which our belief in physical limits constrains us; and she demonstrates how our desire for certainty in medical diagnosis and treatment often prevents us from fully exploiting the power of uncertainty.

Jennifer Aniston is slated to play Harvard psychologist Langer, whose work helped trigger the positive psychology movement.

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