Ellen Langer transcript

Written by Christopher Kelly

Jan. 12, 2017

[0:00:00]

Christopher:    Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly and today I'm joined by Dr. Ellen Langer. Ellen is a social psychologist. She was the first female professor to gain tenureship at the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She's the author of 11 books and more than 200 research articles on mindfulness and she's been working for over 35 years. It's quite an incredible experience to be able to get to interview Dr. Langer. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Ellen:    My pleasure.

Christopher:    Can I start by getting completely off track and asking you what it was like to become the first woman to gain tenureship in psychology at Harvard?

Ellen:    It was crazy-making at first because we didn't know how it was going to turn out. And then clearly very exciting. One of the interesting fun things that had happened I had, after the first permanent member meeting, I asked one of my colleagues was the meeting any different with my being there? And he said no. It didn't feel good. And then I thought, well, if he had said yes, that wouldn't have felt good either. It was nice to say the least.

Christopher:    And you would -- There was no problem? You were very well received? There wasn't like a bunch of grumpy old men saying, "Why is there a woman here?"

Ellen:    No, no, no. They were very accepting.

Christopher:    That's wonderful. The reason I wanted to get you on today was because I heard you speak on Aaron Alexander's wonderful Align Therapy Podcast and at that moment you connected some dots for me. So, very briefly, a long time ago I had some terrible trouble choosing the right foods to eat and I was just doing what I thought was right, what I'd heard the cardiologist say on the BBC News. And it was, obviously, not working for me.

    And then I met this woman who had just finished her master's degree in food science so she knew more about food, and in particular food allergies, than I did. But I feel like the main thing that she taught me was to notice the way that I felt after I ate something. So, I would just eat something according to the rules and the rules had actually changed recently just before I met her. I was still following a list of rules and she said to me, "Hey, how did that make you feel when you ate that thing?" And I'm like, "Yeah, you're right. I didn't feel so good."

Ellen:    I think one of the things that people don't realize is that science, whether it's science of food, biology, psychology, physics, all science is based on probabilities. What that means is that if the experiment were completed again and in the exact same way, which of course it couldn't be exactly the same, that you would be likely to find the same results. And those results are then given to us as absolute fact.

    And so one of my favorite examples of this is I was at this horse event. And this man asked me if I could watch his horse for him because he was going to go get his horse a hotdog. And I thought to myself that's ridiculous. Horses are herbivorous. They don't eat meat. He came back with the hotdog and the horse ate it. And then I said, "What does it mean, horses don't eat meat? How many horses were tested? How hungry were the horses? How big were the horses? How much meat was mixed with how much grain and so on?"

    A number of questions that go into the study itself but that this final report doesn't reveal for us. And so what the finding should be is that under most circumstances many horses don't eat meat, which is very different from horses don't eat meat. So, for the example you gave, you were told people should or shouldn't eat foods X, Y and Z. And what instead you should have been told is that under the circumstances in which we tested this, for many people, it appears that much of the time, X, Y and Z will happen. It's very different.

    And so because the world provides us inappropriately with absolute facts and these absolute facts lead us to mindlessly behave according to the facts, what we need to do instead is recognize that sometimes they're true, sometimes they're not true. And so we need to continue to pay it attention. Everything is always changing. Everything looks different from different perspectives. So, you can't know. There are no certainties. If you are certain of something then you stop paying attention. That's when your mindlessness gets you into trouble.

Christopher:    Would you mind talking about the seminal 1970s clockwise study? Because I had this like incredible moment listening to -- I listen to the audible version of Counterclockwise, which everybody should get a copy of. I think it's just the most amazing book. You write beautifully and it's beautiful stories told. I'm sure you're bored of talking about this study but could I persuade you to talk about it now?

Ellen:    Sure. Let me take a half a step back and tell you the theory on which the study was based. The idea is that there's been a problem for centuries that many people here as the mind-body problem. And what the mind-body problem is how do you get from this fuzzy thing called a thought to something material like the body?

[0:05:05]

    And in trying to find the pathway, what's happened is research hasn't gone forward. So, I said to myself and to my student: Look, mind-body, these are really just words. Let's put the mind and body back together and then wherever we're putting the mind, we're necessarily putting the body. And we don't worry then about how you get from one to the other because it's one.

    And so then what we did was a study where we took old men, these were men in their 80s, and this was back when 80 was 80, not the new 60, and we took them to a retreat that had been retrofitted to 20 years earlier. And they were going to live in that retreat as if it were at this earlier time. So, we're putting their minds in this earlier time and then we want to see what happens to their bodies. So, we had them speak about past events in the present tense and things of this sort.

    The results were phenomenal. What happened is that these men, their vision improved, their hearing improved, their strength improved, their memory, and we had taken photos of them before the study had started and then at the end and have them evaluated by people who knew nothing about the research. And they were also seen as looking younger. So, that was the first evidence we got for this mind-body unity idea. And then we've done many studies since that seem to be getting us the same results.

Christopher:    Talk about the chambermaid study because I thought that was also fascinating, very applicable to our--

Ellen:    To your audience.

Christopher:    Exactly.

Ellen:    Sure. But that was the next study, the much more recent study testing this mind-body unity idea. So, we took chambermaids, and the first thing we asked them was: How much exercise do you get? And this was interesting because even though these women are exercising all day long they didn't see themselves as exercising. They didn't realize that their work was exercise because exercise is defined by the Surgeon General in this country and it's what you do after work unless you're tired after work to go to the gym.

    So, we took half of these women in the experimental group and we taught them that their work was exercise. We told them things like making the bed, this or that, working on this or that, [0:07:22] [Indiscernible] gym and so on. So, we have at the end a list two groups, one group that sees their work as exercise, the other group that sees it just as they did before. We took lots of measures before we started and then we took measures when we came back. I'm not sure that it was three months later.

    We asked them things like are you working any harder? We asked their bosses, is she working any harder? Are you eating any differently? We asked as many things as we could and found that on all of those there were no differences. Yet the differences emerge on the important variables. What happened, as a result of the simple change in mindset, now seeing their work as exercise resulted in weight loss, a change in body mass index, waist to hip ratio, and their blood pressure came down.

Christopher:    That's amazing. And there's another example that I really wanted you to talk about and that was eyesight and the use of the Snellen chart.

Ellen:    Well, it's interesting that one of the underlying factors that hopefully our audience will take away is it speaks to the experience we started the interview with, your eating, and everything else that we're doing is that things are constantly changing. And what happens is that the medical world tends to give us numbers, tests us at one point in time as if that's the way we're going to be.

    So, for example, you go and you read and eye chart and you're given a number. So, you have 20/20, 20/40, whatever the doctor tells you. For most of us, our vision changes in the course of the day. Some people see better in the morning, some in the evening, some better if they had not much to eat, some if they've had high protein diet. For me, if I'm hungry, I can see the restaurant sign very far away.

    What happens is that it's changing although we hold it still. Now, we give subjects this eye chart, the Snellen eye chart. And as you know that as you read down the eye chart, letters get progressively smaller. Well, for me, they suggest that the chart is telling me soon I'm not going to be able to see. So, what I did with my students was to test people where we turn the eye chart around. Now, the letters were going to get progressively larger, thereby, suggesting soon we will be able to see. And what happens is that people can see what they couldn't see before.

    And another version of this, for most people, when they're reading down the eye chart, they think around two-thirds of the way down they're not going to be able to see. So, what we did was we started the eye chart third of the way down so now two-thirds of the way down the much smaller letters and, again, people could see what they couldn't see before. Most of us have capabilities that go far beyond what we realize.

[0:10:08]

Christopher:    And we all have hidden superpowers.

Ellen:    Right. Another version of the vision study was one where we had young men put on Air Force pilot uniforms. Most people in this country here have a belief that Air Force pilots have excellent vision. So, what we did was before they got into the Air Force pilot uniforms we tested their vision. Then they put on the Air Force pilot uniform then they get in a flight simulator.

    Outside the window of the flight simulator, they're told that there's -- they can see a wing of an oncoming plane, which is ridiculous. People believe anything you tell them in these studies. And on the wing we have letters from the eye chart that are smaller than these people are able to see. But now that they're Air Force pilots who have excellent vision, they have no trouble reading it.

Christopher:    That's absolutely amazing.

Ellen:    In a similar way for myself, I can't sing. Yet when I'm in the shower and being Maria Callas or Barbra Streisand, all of a sudden I believe -- I mean, there's no one there to tell me this is not true. But all of a sudden I can hold a note. The point is, again, that most of us have capabilities that go beyond what we realize.

Christopher:    And what does this tell us then about the traditional intervention? So, for example, what do you think about giving people glasses the moment they said that their vision is not great.

Ellen:    I think that that's bad. Imagine that you were constipated and you took a laxative. That would be fine. But if you kept taking laxatives, your body would learn to need the laxative and you wouldn't be able to go on your own. And it's the same thing with glasses. Glasses, sometimes you need them, sometimes you don't. But if you're wearing them all the time you don't come to see that your vision can improve.

    Vision, hearing, taste, all of these things are -- for most of our abilities, most of us assume that we start off, we get a little older and we're better at it then all of a sudden things reverse and they never come back. That vision only gets worse, hearing only gets worse, and so on. I just don't see any reason to presume that that's true.

Christopher:    Okay. I wanted to try and understand how I could become more mindful. I wondered if you defining what mindlessness is, so what we don't want, might be helpful in understanding what we do want to do.

Ellen:    I said before that when people think they know, when they learn things and think, "Now, I've got this," that's when they're going to be mindless. There's no reason to pay any attention. Most of us are brought up believing there are these absolutes, things you know. And once you master it, you assume it's going to stay the same. Nothing stays the same. So, when we're mindless, we're basically relying on cues that we learned in the past and we're basically not there for all intents and purposes.

    Mindfulness as we study it couldn't be simpler. It's the very simple process as actively noticing new things. When you're actively noticing new things about the thing you thought you knew you see you didn't notice as well as you thought you did. So your attention naturally goes to it. What's interesting is that a simple process of noticing new things turns out to be energy begetting. So, what happens is we get people to notice things about things that they thought they knew or it can be new things themselves and in so doing it turns out that it's literally and figuratively life enhancing.

    We make people more mindful, they live longer. We make people more mindful, they're more energetic. It's the essence of engagement. We did these fun studies where we had people doing activities that they hated. So, we had people, mostly women in this case, watching football, people listening to rap music who didn't like rap music, people listening to classical music who didn't like classical music, and so on. And we had one group just do it, another group notice one new thing about it, another group noticed three new things, another group noticed six new things.

    And what happens is the more they notice they more they liked the thing that they noticed, the more engaged they became. So, nothing hard about this. People confuse it often with meditation, which is a practice. Meditation takes you out of the world. You sit still for 20 minutes twice a day and engage in the meditation. And meditation, it was just fine. It's good. What it is is a tool to lead you to post meditative mindfulness. Mindfulness, as we study it, is more immediate. One isn't better than the other. They're just different ways of getting to essentially the same place.

Christopher:    And what other prompts do you use to help people be more mindful?

Ellen:    There are several. The first is simply just to notice new things.

Christopher:    But you see what I'm saying though, it's really hard.

[0:15:00]

    It's easy for you to say, "Oh, just notice new things," but when I'm trapped in my tiny world on autopilot, I'm not going to notice new things unless I change something.

Ellen:    I agree. When I give talks on this, what I often do is start with things that people think they know and then I show them that they don't know them. And so by becoming aware that we really don't know anything for sure then you're naturally going to pay attention to it. If you think it's new you attend to it. If you think it's something you already know you don't pay attention. They might ask and you can ask your audience how much is one and one and most of them are going to say -- What are you going to say, Chris?

Christopher:    It's two, unless I can think of exception.

Ellen:    You see? One in one is sometimes two.

Christopher:    Yeah.

Ellen:    But if you were going to add one wad of chewing gum to one more wad of chewing gum, one plus one is one.

Christopher:    Right.

Ellen:    One pile of laundry to one pile of laundry, one plus one is one. One pile of snow to one pile of snow, and so on and so forth. And so if you think about it, one and one probably doesn't equal two in the real world as often as it equals two. So, when you see the things you thought you knew really well that you don't really know them for sure at all then you're naturally going to pay attention.

Christopher:    Okay.

Ellen:    When we teach people how to understand people, we do the same thing. What happens is you decide somebody is a particular way and then you treat them that way regardless, when that particular characterization could have been very different. For example, let's say you see me as gullible. If we recognize that behavior makes sense from the actor's perspective or else the actor wouldn't do it, you'd see from my perspective I'm being trusting. I may see it was rigid. From your perspective you're being stable. You may see me as impulsive. From my perspective I'm being spontaneous. And this is true. Everything can be understood in multiple ways. Again, when you think you've got it, you know the person, and usually we're being very judgmental, and when you see that the behavior made sense from that person's perspective or else they wouldn't have done it, then you become less judgmental. You become less judgmental. You're more open to experience. And that means you're probably going to be more mindful.

Christopher:    Is there any danger of this becoming confusing and frightening especially for people that maybe have a less stable grip on the world. Let's say, so we just got back from Dale Bredesen's training where he's teaching people about the treatment for Alzheimer's and perhaps those people with even just mild cognitive impairment, with this idea of letting go of the things that you think you know, couldn't that just lead to total confusion and panic?

Ellen:    Well, when you say could, I have to say, of course. We can't be sure of anything. But, no, we're doing some work with people with mild cognitive impairment, and we're doing work on this attention to variability, which is what I was describing to you before that things are always changing. I think that it was Voltaire who said uncertainty is difficult but certainty is absurd. He said it in French and that wasn't exactly what he said but that was the spirit of it.

Christopher:    Right. I got the gist.

Ellen:    The bottom line is that things are changing. You want to hold them still, that's your choice. Then you're confusing the stability of your mindset with the stability of the underlying phenomenon. So, no, I don't agree that we're best off misleading people. If you were speaking to somebody who had mild cognitive impairment and they said today was Saturday, I don't think that it's good to agree that today is Saturday if today isn't Saturday. But, I think, that we can mostly correct that.

    I think that what happens is -- and this was behind, I think, your question. Don't people get nervous when they think they don't know? I think that the stress that comes with that is misguided. It comes because -- this is going to be hard to understand. But we tend to think that events are positive or negative rather than it's our view of events that make them positive or negative.

    So, when you recognize that stress is not necessary, stress results from a confusion, seeing that it's the event that was stressful, not realizing you had the choice of interpreting it in a different way. So, when you practice all this mindfulness and see that you're in charge, it can be positive, negative, neutral, it doesn't matter. It's all up to you. Then you're less afraid of the world. And so the world doesn't have to be standing still.

Christopher:    I wanted to talk to you about giving yourself up to a doctor. This may have been another mistake that I've made in the past is having a whole bunch of health complaints and then showing up at a primary care doctor's office and basically offloading all of my situation onto him and saying, "Hey, you, deal with this," in the same way as I might say that to a builder who was building my house. "Just build me a house. It's not my responsibility. I'm going to pay you cash and you're going to solve this problem."

Ellen:    Right. Yeah, I think that most of us have been trained to respond to experts in that way.

[0:20:03]

    I think that if we go back to what I said about medical science, as all science, can only give us probabilities, only give us most of the time, it would seem, that sort of thing, not absolutes. And so you're the keeper of the special information and you need to partner with a physician. The physician is doing a best guess. That's all they can do. And they can be applauded for that but you don't want to just hand yourself over as you did with your diet.

    When you're given something, you want to assess the effects of it on your body and report back to the physician and stay a full partner. Most diseases cure themselves over time. Not all, clearly. So, that gave rise to part of our belief in the efficacy of medicine. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. If you suffer from something, you have a pain. It's a small pain. You just accept it.

    If it's a big pain then you do something about it. Well, there's our law of regression to the mean. And what that means, let's just say I'm playing tennis and I hit a fabulous serve based on how well I serve. The next serve is not going to be as fabulous. It's going to regress back to the way I typically serve. If I do a terrible serve, the next serve was likely to be better. Because things don't stay the same. So, what happens is that if I have a pain and the pain feels worse than usual then I take some medicine and now the pain feels better.

    But what I'm suggesting is the pain might have felt better, might have lessened anyway because of this regression idea. It's interesting. All it says, we don't know if the medicine is really working or not. It means we have to stay tuned in and notice the subtleties. And if we did that from the very start, if we were taught to pay attention to the subtle changes in our bodies we'd be able to fix things before they got bad in the first place.

    It's sort of you're driving your car and you start the engine and if you're not paying any attention you don't hear the subtleties then you're not going to be aware that there's no more brake fluid. I know nothing about cars, but whatever it is. And all of a sudden the car breaks down. If you notice the small changes, as with the car, then you could add whatever it needed. Or an easier way of understanding that. Sometimes people wake up and they say they've gained ten pounds.

    Well, nobody gains ten pounds overnight. If you recognize that you gained a few ounces, it's very easy to take off a few ounces or even a pound. You see what I'm saying?

Christopher:    Yeah. I do see what you're saying.

Ellen:    If we attend to the smaller changes, then we can avert the danger not yet arisen.

Christopher:    Talk to me about the placebo effect. Is there a way that you could give us back the control that some people might enjoy from a placebo?

Ellen:    In fact, the placebo is explained by this mind-body unity idea. Placebo, if you think about a placebo, that some physician is giving you a pill. If it's a placebo, it's a sugar pill. So, we know that it's not making you better. But if you get better, who's making you better if not the pill. You have to be doing it for yourself. And most doctors, by the way, prescribe placebos and people are oblivious to it. And what we need to know after we've made ourselves better that, in fact, we did make ourselves better and then try to figure it out.

    So, we have the most recent mind-body unity study we did with diabetes. People would show up who had type II diabetes. As they showed up, we have them seated by a computer to play computer games. And there's a clock by the computer, and we would ask them to change the game they're playing every 15 minutes or so. And that would be to ensure that they're looking at the clock. Now, for one group, the clock is going twice as fast as real time. For another group, clock is going half as fast as real time. For the third group, the clock is going real time.

    And the question we're asking is: Does blood sugar level follow real or perceived time? And the answer is perceived time. So, similar to a placebo. So now, what we're doing is sharing those results with people and trying to work with them to figure out how, since they're taking care of themselves anyway, they could do it more directly without having these clocks that are backwards and so on.

Christopher:    So, what's the answer there? You keep me hanging here. So, how do I think my blood sugar down?

Ellen:    Once you realize that you were in charge of it then what you need to do is pay attention to some of the subtleties, what's happening in your body when your blood sugar is rising or falling? When you think about different foods, your blood sugar level is changing. And so if you can become aware of all of that -- I don't want to step too deeply into this now until we have the results of the study. But the point in answering your question, whatever the question was, who remembers, is that, yes, we can harness the placebo effect.

[0:25:06]

    First way to harness it is to see that we've been controlling our bodies anyway. So now there's motivation to look and see, well, what are we doing that makes that happen? And, I think, mindfully tuning in to the smaller sensations is going to prove to be the key.

Christopher:    It's so amazing. I can't get over all this stuff. Do you have any advice for athletes? One thing I've noticed -- In fact, I didn't notice this all by myself. I spoke to a sports psychologist once and she told me about this and once she told me I was like, "Oh god, of course, this is so simple." And that's like knowing the outcome of an event. So, if you're in, say, a cyclocross race, as I have been fairly recently, you obviously feel bad and the overwhelming urge is to stop.

    And if you just think about how bad you feel and stopping then you almost certainly will get a worse result. And so if you just don't think about that stuff, you think about something else, then you tend to go better. So, do you know what I'm talking about and do you have anything to add or have you done any--?

Ellen:    I have lots to add because we're doing research, I have done some research with sports. The first thing is we just take everything we've said so far, there's a direct relationship with the way we're playing sports which is to be there not to pay attention to how we've always done it but rather to pay attention to how we should do it right now. So, for example, your body is going to be different today than it was yesterday.

    If you were swinging a golf club or a tennis racket, if you were aware that the left shoulder feels a little tense today then you would swing a little differently. It's being aware of these subtleties. It's being aware of the changes in the weather, in the opponent you're playing against, and so on. So, this attention to variability, just mindfulness by a fancy name, keeps you in the present. When you're in the present you get to see things that you wouldn't otherwise see and also, as I said the moment before, you avert the danger not yet arisen.

    Most people try to learn a sport to become expert at it. And by that, they mistakenly think it means now I know how to do it. But the true expert is always a learner. So, we're doing some research now with practice. I wrote a paper back in the '70s called Practice Makes Imperfect. And when practice makes imperfect is when people practice with the intention of mastering it thinking how you do this so I can do it without thinking about it? You never want to do anything without thinking about it because then you're doing it mindlessly. As so things are changing, that's not going to be to your advantage.

    So, in this study, what we're doing is having people practice using ball machine that's been programmed to be random. So, you never know what's going to happen. You could do this -- If you took a tennis ball, for example, and you put inside of it a little weight or a Mexican jumping bean or something so that every time it bounces it was going to bounce in a way that was different.

    So, what you want to do when you practice is pay attention to the changes. What most people do when they practice is pay attention to the way it's the same. You want to know that you don't know. And if you don't know then you're there. And if you're there, you're going to see things that you otherwise would be oblivious to.

Christopher:    Okay. I can see now that this is relevant to me and I was talking to my father-in-law yesterday and he was complaining about his golf swing. He's a very good golf player but sometimes he just shows up and it just doesn't work. And like, "I don't get it. What did I do? Nothing changed." And, of course, this is so relevant to him right now.

Ellen:    Well, for me, I had this strange experience playing golf apropos of nothing that we're talking about. But I hit the ball -- I used to play golf maybe once or twice a year or when I visit my father when he was alive. And I hit the ball and neither he nor I could figure out where the ball was. And it turned out I got a hole in one, which only somebody who doesn't know the game can do.

    But it ruined the game for me because now every time, in the few times I go to play golf, I swing that club expecting a hole in one, which is mindless, I guess. So, no matter how aware we are of mindfulness, there's a certain mindlessness that we'll probably always experience.

Christopher:    I wanted to talk to you about mindfulness in health care technology. So, I'll give you an example. I've just been listening to Damien Blenkinsopp interview a group of researchers that have done some really interesting work with sequencing the gut microbiome and then using that data to make recommendations about diet. And it's incredibly interesting. I have really no idea how, of the utility of this thing. But what I'm wondering now is, is this removing some of the mindfulness from my eating choices? Am I just doing, making the same mistake all over again only now I've passed over the dependence on to the machine rather than--

[0:30:03]

Ellen:    I don't know anything about this in particular, your description. Any time we're responding to things as if they're going to stay the same we're setting ourselves up for being mindless and then behaving less efficiently than we might otherwise be.

Christopher:    Right. And can you think of any examples of health care technology that introduce mindfulness? So, I'm thinking about -- It's not really a craze anymore like these things so well adapted, things like Fitbit and the Apple watch and all of that kind of stuff that's giving us data about the way in which we move our bodies, the amount that we sleep, the amount of calories that we eat. Do you think these things introduce mindfulness or do they detract from it?

Ellen:    I think they can but like anything else they can be used mindlessly. So, if you have a goal for yourself for 10,000 steps a day and you take 9,000 or 7500 steps, if that's going to make you depressed then, obviously, you're using it mindlessly. I also have some friends who have an iWatch. One of these people in particular is on her feet almost all day and when she sits down and after about half hour, it rings or something and tells her that she should stand up. She gets furious.

    Any activity can be done mindlessly or mindfully. It's not in the activity. It's in the way we do it. You can watch television mindlessly or mindfully. You can run mindfully or mindlessly. No matter what you're doing and all of the data over all these many years suggest there are very strong advantages to doing these things mindfully.

Christopher:    Okay. This has been really interesting. Is there any other advice that you give people for introducing -- You talked about meditation. Is there anything else that you would suggest to help us be more mindful?

Ellen:    But not suggest meditation because there are enough people out there that are doing that. I think that meditation works for some people and it's fine. The thing to realize is that all that we've been talking about is not mutually exclusive with meditation. You can do them both. I think that maybe people need to be aware especially because meditation, the practice of meditation is popular now and that's hard for people and that's why it's called a practice.

    It's for people to realize that mindfulness, as we're talking about it, is not only energy begetting, it's the essence of engagement and humor and the thing that we're doing when having our best times. So, for people to realize that not only is mindfulness this active noticing of new things good for you in all sorts of ways, that it's also fun. And that's important. Humor relies on mindfulness. So, if I told you a joke, I'd tell you the beginning, you're going to understand it one way. It only becomes funny when I give you the punch line and you say, "Oh, I didn't realize that it could also be understood that way." and I'm sort of tempted to tell you a joke but I think I'm going to pass.

Christopher:    I'll laugh anyway.

Ellen:    Okay. Well, if you guarantee it, then maybe I'll tell you. I was told that this clairvoyant midget escaped from prison but there was a small medium at large. Not hilarious but it's not my day job so it's okay. But the point is that once we see that humor relies on our being mindful, it's easier to see how we can be mindful virtually all of the time. It's easy, it's fun and it's good for us. Not only are we healthier and happier but people are aware of when we're present.

    And when we're mindful, people find us more attractive, more authentic and trustworthy. So, in so many ways, the fact that it's so easy and so good for you, I suggest that people consider trying to be mindful virtually all of the time. And part of how to do that is to appreciate the power of uncertainty.

Christopher:    I love it. So, the book that I read that inspired me to ask Ellen to be on this podcast was Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility. I will, of course, link to your website, ellenlanger.com. Is there anything else that you'd want people to know about?

Ellen:    I have a fun book called The Art of Noticing that's available on Amazon. And the Art of Noticing are one-liners that have been called from research over the last 40 years paired with my original paintings. So, the original one-liners and original paintings, things like "ask yourself is it a tragedy or inconvenience," things of this sort. It's mundane wisdom we'll say. And I think people might enjoy that.

Christopher:    I will, of course, link to everything that you mentioned in the show notes for this episode. Dr. Langer, thank you so much for joining me today. It's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.

Ellen:    I've enjoyed it as well. You take care.

Christopher:    Thank you.

[0:34:56]    End of Audio

Join the discussion on the NBT forum when you support us on Patreon.

Register for instant access to your FREE 15-page book, What We Eat


© 2019 nourishbalancethrive