Ellen Langer is a social psychologist who is otherwise known as the Mother of Mindfulness. Recently Langer sat down with the amazingness that is Krista Tippett, host of On Being, one of the greatest podcast series and online resources you will ever hope to discover. Tippett opens the conversation with: “[Langer] defines mindfulness with counterintuitive simplicity: the simple act of actively noticing things — with a result of increased health, competence, and happiness. Her take on mindfulness has never involved contemplation or meditation or yoga. It comes straight out of her provocative, unconventional studies, which have been suggesting for decades what neuroscience is pointing at now: our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them.” You can listen to the full conversation above. And be sure to follow Krista Tippett’s On Being on Facebook, enter the mothership at OnBeing.org, and follow Krista on Twitter. For more from Ellen Langer you can visit EllenLanger.com.
For more terrific insight into this same topic, you might want to check out Barbara Graham’s excellent article “What Is Happiness Anyway?” at Mindful.org. Graham writes: “The cynics, skeptics, and curmudgeons tempted to dismiss gratitude and other happiness-boosting practices as New Age hokum would be well advised to consider the mounting evidence linking positive emotions to markers for good health. Our brains tell a significant part of the story.”
“‘Research suggests that when people consciously practice gratitude, they’re increasing the flow of beneficial neurochemicals in the brain,’ Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author, most recently of Hardwiring Happiness, tells me over hot and sour soup in San Rafael, California. ‘What passes through the mind resculpts the neural structure of the brain. If we focus on what we resent or regret, we build out the neural substrates of those thoughts and feelings. But if we rest our attention on things we’re grateful for, we build up very different neural substrates. New blood starts flowing. Existing synapses become more sensitive and new synapses grow.'”