My friend Laura told me she’d listened to Ellen Langer on On Being, and suggested I check it out. So I did (and would have anyway, since On Being is a favorite show of mine. But I am so happy for the suggestion!), and once finished, pressed Play immediately, to listen yet another time. And actually, I’ve listened to the episode more than three times by now! It’s definitely a very good show to listen to, at least if you are in any way interested in mindfulness, or mindlessness, for that matter. Ellen Langer has a purely scientific take on it, and I really like her definition of mindfulness: “the simple act of actively noticing things”
Because that is really what it is all about. And she does have a point. I mean, how do I DO ”being in the present”? How do I know I am ”being in the now”? And she is spot on with her definition. You are present when you notice things. That is how you know you are in the present moment, and not off on a mental tangent somewhere or other.
Fairly early on in the show Ellen speaks about perspectives, and what she said really got me thinking. She points out how nobody truly believes there is just one way to look at the world at large or a specific detail (unless they are a fundamentalist, my addition), and yet, we so often go through life doing just that. And she gave me a much needed nudge, to look at a specific person in a fairly periferal position of my life, who still somehow seem to take up more energy and space than I want. And wham. All of a sudden, I could see what for me seems like very petty and begrudging behavior, in a totally new light. I all of a sudden developed a lot of empathy for said person, because I realized that a likely cause for the behavior is loneliness and a fear of not having any friends.
It’s so amazing when those shifts occur, it’s as if a door opens that I had no clue was there in the first place. And that my friends, is definitely an example of the simple act of noticing things.
So. Stop. Pause. Look around you.
Notice five new things about the space you are in?