How emotionally intelligent are you really? You think you’ve got it covered, well, sort of? Emotional intelligence is a profile of competencies, it doesn’t boil down to you either have it or you don’t. The starting point is self awareness, the ability to recognise what you’re feeling when you are feeling it. But that’s not all there is to emotional intelligence. We investigate.
Pervasive learning myths
Mindfulness expert, Ellen Langer, believes that there are several pervasive myths about learning, the first of which is that the basics must be learned so well that they become second nature. Traditional ways of learning can result in mindless behaviour because people are taught to ‘overlearn’ tasks and facts, resulting in an unquestioned assumption that there is only one way, the way that one has been taught.
Mindful learning as an alternative
Langer invites us to try an alternative learning style, where skills and facts are taught conditionally, enabling us to remain aware of the fact that different situations may require different approaches or simply put, mindful learning.
If we are to learn mindfully, we first must question the assumption that when we learn something we should learn it so well that it becomes second nature. For Langer, this assumption is fraught with mindless implications as it locks us into rigid patterns of learning, discourages flexibility and results in new tasks being performed mindlessly. An example, might be a group of beginners being taught to paddle by a more experienced canoe instructor. Every member of the group is taught in the same way but differences in height, strength, type of paddle will need to be taken into consideration for each beginner to develop their technique. Learning the basics are important but we should guard against over learning them so that they can be varied to each situation.
Often we are not taught the basics by an expert but even when we do have expert instruction, applying exactly the same techniques used by the expert may not bring about our own optimal performance. For example, if Lewis Hamilton demonstrates how he drives his Formula 1 car to victory and I try to emulate him will I drive like a champion? Or do I need to learn conditionally from him and adjust his technique to take into account the difference in our height, our strength and our different relflexes and reaction times to road conditions.
In a pilot study Langer gave a physics lesson, on video, to high school students who had the same basic education and experience. All the students were shown the same video but before they viewed the video, half the students were given an instruction sheet informing them that there would be two parts to the exercise. Part one would be a 30 minute video introducing some basic concepts of physics. Part two would be “a short questionnaire in which you will apply the concepts shown in the video”. The video presents only one of several outlooks on physics, which may or may not be helpful to you. Please feel free to use any additional methods you want to assist you in solving the problems.” The other group were given the same information except for the detail on several outlooks and additional methods. Langer wanted to know whether the condition allowing for alternatives would result in mindful learning.
Both groups performed equally well when tested on the material but when they were asked to use the information creatively, only the students given the mindful instructions did so. Although the other group were not instructed to avoid drawing on previous experiences or knowledge, they didn’t do so.
Langer proposes that we move away from the standard top-down (lecturing style of instruction) and bottom-up (relying on direct experience , and practice of a new activity) and instead adopt a third approach, which she calls ‘sideways learning’. Sideways learning is when we adopt a mindful approach to learning.
How can we develop mindful learning?
When we are able to learn a new subject with a sideways learning approach we are always aware of changes as they occur, enabling us to adjust the basics that we have learned to fit the situation.
We can adopt a mindful state when learning by following five steps:
1. Remain open to novelty
2. Be alert to distinction
3. Adopt a sensitivity to different contexts
4. Have an implicit awareness of multiple perspectives
5. Be orientated in the present
Where can you start to use these mindful learning techniques? Find out more here: Ellen Langer.
A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and skills can be developed, that a conscious effort to strengthen and improve our abilities will increase them. In contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that our abilities are fixed and regardless of effort, can’t be changed.
It’s possible to have a growth mindset towards some aspects of life and a fixed mindset in others. If you recognise a fixed mindset in your life and would like to transform it to one of growth, practice cultivating these seven habits for a growth mindset:
1) Don’t be deterred by negativity.
When you make a commitment to change old habits, guard against being sidetracked or demotivated by negative comments. Constructive criticism can be helpful but it’s just as important to develop and listen to your own inner, growth mindset, voice. Filter the feedback you receive from yourself and others and decide whether it comes from a place of growth or a fixed mindset. Consider how you would encourage a friend or colleague if they were embarking on a new learning experience and coach yourself in the same way.
2) Envison a positive outcome.
Psychologist Walter Mischel, creator of the most famous willpower study, the marshmallow test, established that the ability to focus on the positive feelings you will experience when you have reached your goal, is a crucial factor for success. Develop a clear and vivid picture of what your success will look like. Envision how good you will feel when you have mastered your new skill or subject and maintain a clear focus on your desired outcome.
3) Consider the impact of your words.
Ask yourself what impact your words have on those around you. Do you adopt a growth mindset in your relationships and encourage others to learn, develop and grow? If not, take some time to think of ways in which you can improve your interactions with others at work and home to encourage a growth mindset culture.
4. Take on new challenges wholeheartedly.
Don’t avoid tasks that you have felt unable to master in the past. Challenging tasks allow you to develop new skills and abilities. Neurologist, Dr. Harry Chugani, describes the synaptic connections which occur in the brain during the learning process as being similar to roads. Chugani explains, “Roads with the most traffic get widened. The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair.” New or difficult tasks are an opportunity to develop new skills and build new synaptic connections, with practice both will strengthen and improve your performance.
5. Celebrate your successes.
Your belief in your abilities has a direct impact on your motivation to try new things, persevere and fulfil your potential. Make time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes. Recognise the hard work that has enabled you to learn a new skill or excel in an existing area of interest. When you embark on a new learning curve, remember previous achievements that involved the learning process and remind yourself that having a growth mindset helped you to achieve success.
6. Don’t view failure as all defining.
Avoid the fixed mindset trap by learning to view failure as a temporary setback rather than regarding it as being all defining. People with a growth mindset still experience failure and disappointment but don’t allow setbacks to deter them from their goals. When things don’t go as planned take a growth mindset approach and focus on what you can do differently next time to improve performance.
7. Be open to new information and experiences.
A fixed mindset literally switches us off to learning. Carol Dweck, the world leader in growth mindset theory, asked individuals with either a fixed or growth mindset a set of complex questions. Dweck then studied participants levels of brain activity whilst feedback was provided on whether their answers were correct. Dweck found that participants with a fixed mindset only showed interest when they were being told if they’d answered the questions correctly. The level of brain activity dialled down when more information about an incorrect question was provided. A fixed mindset prevented subjects from learning new information. In contrast, the growth mindset participants maintained a high level of brain activity throughout the feedback process and subsequent tests revealed they had learned more than those who approached the same test with a fixed mindset. Dweck’s research shows the importance of remaining open to new experiences and information, when we do so our neurons fire and wire together, developing our skills and abilities with a growth mindset.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
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When you’re working hard on your goals, putting time and energy into changing habits and powering away towards positive change, what more can you do to ensure success?
Self-affirmations are a proven way to improve performance and help to overcome self-doubt, especially when under pressure.
What are affirmations?
Psychologists define a self-affirmation as an act that demonstrates one’s adequacy. Some examples of self-affirmations that are discussed in research include, positive feedback on a personally important skill, the purchase of status goods, and updating one’s Facebook page.
It’s not only big achievements, like passing an exam or winning a race, that are significant and self-affirming. Research shows that everyday acts, like receiving a note of thanks from a friend or a stressed worker caring for their family, are equally self-affirming. Actions that strongly affirm our core values act as great self-affirmations and much of the psychological research relating to self-affirmations, is based around values.
How do affirmations work?
Self-affirmations encourage us to have a broader view of ourselves and our capabilities. Research reveals the benefit of self-affirmations, especially during times of stress and anxiety. When we experience a challenge or threat to our sense of who we are, for example, a threat to health or times of transition and change, we can use self-affirmations to help weather the storm. The self affirmation need not be related to the source of the threat but can have powerful results when used.
Psychologist and self-affirmation expert, David Sherman, describes what happens when self-affirmations are used; smokers are more open to anti-smoking information, athletes take more responsibility for their teams’ defeats and less credit for their successes, and minority students who experience stereotyping behaviour feel greater belonging in school and show long-term, improved academic performance.
The evidence for affirmations
Research demonstrates that when we apply self-control to one task, our resources for self-control in subsequent tasks are depleted. However, recent research suggests that affirmations can be a useful mental strategy to overcome such depletion. The research has shown that self-affirmations can improve self-control even when it has been depleted. Illustrating that self- affirmations can reap multiple benefits when the going gets tough.
Sherman proposes that self-affirmations lead to three positive outcomes:
1. Self-affirmations boost self-resources.
2. Self-affirmations broaden the perspective with which people view information and events in their lives, and
3. Self-affirmations lead to a detachment of our sense of self from the threat, reducing the impact that the threat has on our sense of self.
Sherman’s model helps explain what happens when we affirm our values in the context of threats, and how self-affirmations can lead to lasting change by shaping the nature of our experience. When self-affirmations remind us of who we are and what’s important to us, stress is reduced by putting threats into context.
5 ways to use self-affirmations for positive change
1. Establish your values and character strengths. Take time out to think about the importance of the values you hold. Establish your top ten values, a great place to start is Pennsylvania University’s Values in Action survey.
2. Acknowledge and savour your successes. This is especially important in times of challenge when self-affirmations can be especially helpful. If self-esteem is low, acknowledging and savouring successes will also help to grow confidence and build esteem.
3. Recall situations when your values prompted actions. Look for patterns and consider how your values have shaped your experience.
4. Make time to think about who you are and what’s important to you. Actively consider how you can get into the habit of consciously thinking about what makes you unique, your values, your character and what you hold dear.
5. Keep a values in action journal. Keep a record of occasions when you’re value driven actions have left you feeling energised and authentic. When you experience challenge or your confidence is at a low ebb, read through the journal to remind yourself just how resourceful you are.
When confronted with a creative problem what can be done to encourage the creative process?
A connection between mood and creativity
Psychologist, Adam Anderson, explored the connection between mood and thought processes by inducing a positive, negative or neutral mood in 24 study participants. Specific moods were induced by playing specially selected pieces of music to subjects. After each piece of music, participants were given two tasks to complete, the tasks focused on creativity and concentration.
In one example of a creative task, used by Anderson, participants were asked to think of a word that links the following set of words:
Mower, Atomic, Foreign
Participants were asked to think beyond words commonly associated with the above words, words like “lawn,” “bomb” and “currency”. Instead, participants were encouraged to think creatively to solve the puzzle and reach the less obvious answer of “power.”
Looking through a porthole or choosing a panoramic view
Anderson found that participants in a happy mood were much better at completing the creative task. Anderson explains, “With positive mood, you actually get more access to things you would normally ignore …instead of looking through a porthole, you have a landscape or panoramic view of the world.” Others have likened the effect mood has on thought to a powerful torch beam; a negative mood creates a narrow, sharply focused beam, whereas a positive mood creates a broad, far reaching, wide beam.
In another test, Anderson monitored participants brain activity whilst showing them a picture of a person’s face with a house in the background, such as the picture below.
Participants were asked to establish whether the face in the picture was that of a male or female and told to focus solely on the face. Anderson wanted to establish which areas of the brain would be active when participants looked at the picture, the area that showed focus on the house or the area of the brain that revealed focus on the face.
Anderson discovered that when a positive emotion was induced, the focus was on the house. Even though participants were instructed to only focus on the face, a positive emotion compelled them to take in the bigger picture. When participants were placed in a negative mood, they paid no attention to the house, focusing firmly on the face.
How a negative mood impacts the way we process information is clearly illustrated by the well known phenomenon of “weapon focus.” The phrase describes the concentrated focus of someone who is experiencing negative emotions. The term “weapon focus” originates from the behaviour of those held at gunpoint, when fear and anxiety is extreme, individuals are often able to describe the gun in detail but unable to describe the person holding the weapon when questioned after the event.
5 tips to boost creativity by promoting a positive mood
1. Create a positivity soundtrack. Anderson selected specific music to induce positive or negative moods. Use this technique to your advantage by creating your own positivity soundtrack.
2. Collect positive quotes. When you find yourself inspired, motivated and energised by the words of others, make a note of them. Place your favourite quotes where you can see them often and replace or add new quotes regularly as this can stimulate our creative senses more than looking at the same words each day.
3. Focus on pictures that make you happy. For some of us, pictures ebonite and make our passions soar. Make sure that your favourite pictures, that prompt happy feelings, are prominently places.
4. Compile a list of happy activities. When you need to get creative, it can be helpful to have a list of activities to hand that you already know will put you in a positive mood. You might want to divide the list into quick activities and those that require more time. Activities often noted for inducing positive emotions are spending time in nature, going for a run or watching a comedy.
5. Spend time with others. Socialising with friends who have a wide range of interests can both broaden our perspective and induce a positive, creative mood. Regularly build time into your schedule to spend time with friends that leave you feeling inspired or develop new connections that broaden your outlook.
Like some more tips to develop creativity? Watch Julie Burstein & Kurt Anderson sharing how creativity works.
Have you ever experienced a powerful emotion rising swiftly to the surface and felt powerless in it’s wake? We can all feel challenged by difficult interactions with others. The ability to manage emotion and choose our response in emotionally charged situations can sometimes seem like a Herculean task but mindfulness can provide the key to positive change.
Renowned emotional intelligence expert, Paul Ekman, identifies two core skills for mastering emotional response:
1. Establish what triggers your negative emotional behaviour.
2. Learn to increase the length of time between registering an emotional impulse and acting on it.
How to Establish themes and triggers
1. Keep a journal. Make a note of when emotions are high and record these moments in detail. After a month or so of maintaining the diary, analyse the information and look for patterns.
2. Connect trigger incidents and themes. What triggers the emotional behaviour? Where you noted incidents that prompted negative, disproportionate emotional behaviour, look for themes. You can establish your triggers by noticing how many incidents have the same theme.
3. Decide on a plan of action. Knowing which themes commonly trigger negative emotional behaviour alerts you to challenging situations in advance and enables you to ask, ‘what can I do?’ to manage the situation. Will a technique to reduce stress suffice and calm me or do I need to avoid the situation because it involves a strong trigger? Alternatively, you may recognise that a theme is present but decide you are feeling in good emotional shape and are prepared for any triggers that may arise.
4. Increasing the gap between impulse and action
Psychologist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, described the ability to choose how we respond to any
given situation as the ‘last human freedom.’ Emotional responses are often triggered by previous experiences which we store in our memory or, as Ekman terms it, our emotional database. The emotional alert database constantly scans for triggers and when it finds a trigger the emotional impulse occurs. The emotional alert database is not always accurate or helpful but when the emotional impulse reaches the brain it activates the emotion in all external behaviours, voice, facial expressions, posture.
5. How to identify when your emotions are negatively affecting your behaviour. A useful source of information can be the facial expressions of others. If the person on the receiving end of your behaviour looks horrified or disappointed in response to your words, posture or facial expressions, ask yourself what you might be saying or doing to prompt their reaction.
Developing the ability to identify your own physiological response in stressful situations is another useful technique for identifying negative emotion. Do you experience physical tension? Does your breathing rate, perspiration or heart rate increase? Perhaps you experience certain sensations in different parts of your body, a knot in the stomach or a tightness in your throat? The more able you are to identify the physical feelings that accompany emotions, the earlier you will be able to sense your triggers and themes and act to manage them.
6. Mind the gap. The good news is that there is a gap between registering the emotional impulse and it being translated into action. It is this gap that we are seeking to increase providing more time to choose a response rather than being hijacked by our emotions. Mindfulness is a great technique that can be used to lengthen the time between impulse and response.
Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of continuous mindfulness practice each day day increases our ability to recognise the themes that trigger emotions and choose how we respond to emotionally challenging situations.
7. One mindfulness practice to try today. Try this simple mindfulness technique to help develop your focus and manage your emotional response in challenging situations:
1. If you are new to mindfulness it can be useful to set a timer (or use a mindfulness app) for a duration of 20 minutes, or less if you want to gradually build up to twenty minutes. A timer can help avoid the distraction of wondering how long you have been practising the exercise.
2. Take a breath and notice how the air feels as you inhale. What other sensations do you experience?
3. Exhale and focus on the sensation of releasing the breath. Does your breath feel warm? How do other parts of your body feel as you exhale?
4. If your thoughts wander, don’t worry, this is normal, simply notice that your attention has wandered and return your focus to your breathing.
5. If you experience an emotion during this mindfulness technique, note the emotion, rather than the emotion defining you, label it, for example, ‘that’s a happy emotion’. Notice how it feels, including any sensations you experience physically in your body. Remember that this type of physical sensation is one of the techniques you can use for establishing that an emotion has been triggered. Identifying where you feel the emotion in your body during this exercise will help you identify the sensation and emotion at other times when that emotion is triggered. Return your focus to the breathing process.
Regularly practicing mindfulness and following the techniques to identify emotional themes and triggers will help you to increase the gap between impulse and action. A combination of all three techniques leads to an increase in emotional awareness and emotional intelligence which will enhance your relationships with others.
It’s official. We’re more stressed in the workplace than we were forty years ago. The UK Office for National Statistics Labour Force study states that 442000 employees in Britain reported feeling work-related stress at a level that was making them physically ill (HSE 2007/8). It’s not a surprising statistic considering crowded commutes before you even reach the office, challenging colleagues, increasing workloads and poor leadership contributing to the phenomena. Mindfulness at work may be the answer. [Read more…]
Do you dream about following your creative passions? Have you ever wondered if you could be the next Annie Liebowitz, David Hockney or J.K. Rowling?
Maybe you’re yet to explore your creative side or perhaps you already spend time flexing your creative strengths? New research suggests that pursuing creative activities can guard against dementia by maintaining and improving memory.
Can creative activity make a difference to memory?
The Mayo Clinic’s National Institute of Aging studied 256 patients, with an average age of 87, over four years. The study, led by Rosebud Roberts was recently published in the American Journal of Neurology. Roberts found that people who regularly followed their creative passions were much less likely to experience memory and thinking problems (known as mild cognitive impairment or MCI) in later life.
The participants in the study reported how often they spent time on each of the following activities:
1. artistic activities such as painting and sculpting;
2. craft activities, like woodworking, ceramics and sewing;
3. computer activities, such as playing games, using the internet and making purchases online.
4. socialising, for example, travelling or attending activities such as the theatre, cinema and concerts.
The positive effects of creative activity on memory
After four years, Roberts found that 121 of the patients had developed mild memory and thinking problems (MCI). The participants who reported undertaking artistic activities in mid and later life were 73% less likely to experience memory and thinking problems than those who did not engage in any artistic activities.
Participants who socialised through activities like travelling, going to the cinema and theatre in mid and later life were 55% less likely to develop memory and thinking difficulties than those who didn’t socialise.
Those who engaged in craft activities in mid and later life were 45% less likely to experience mild cognitive impairment than those who did no craft activities and those who used computers in later life were 53% less likely to experience MCI.
Why are creative activities good for the brain?
Researcher, Rosebud Roberts, explained,“Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age.”
So time spent pursuing creative passions is not only fun but may also provide the additional benefit of maintaining memory and guarding against dementia.
3 tips for adopting a creative routine
1. Choose one creative activity.Whatever your age, choose one creative activity that you are passionate to try and work out a plan to fit it into your schedule on a regular basis.
2. Make time to try different activities. A variety of activities will use different parts of the brain, this not only protects against mild cognitive impairment but also ensures new neurons develop.
3. Socialise. Accept opportunities to socialise or invite others to try a new activity or simply enjoy the benefits of time spent together.
Want to build your creative confidence? Watch this TED Talk by David Kelley:
Do you long to develop your creative side but don’t know where to begin?
Can you develop creativity?
Psychologists have long delved deep into the world of creativity. The research delivers good news – creativity can be developed. Robert Epstein, psychologist and author of “The Big Book of Creativity Games”, explains that there is little evidence to support the existence of an elusive ‘creativity gene.’ Instead Epstein suggests that creativity is a skill which, with effort, we can all develop.
Fellow psychologist and creativity expert, Jonathan Plucker, agrees that we can develop creativity. He explains, “As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit.” Plucker’s research also suggests that developing the habit of creativity can also help us to become more productive.
The evidence for building a creative habit
Epstein’s research suggests that by developing certain habits we can build creativity and generate a host of new ideas. Epstein worked with seventy-four city employees from Orange County in California and actively engaged them in creativity training seminars. The city employees participated in games and exercises developed by Epstein to strengthen their abilities to perform four skill sets. Epstein followed up with the employees after eight months and found that they’d increased their rate of new idea generation by 55 percent. The employees new ideas resulted in $600,000 in new revenue and saved approximately $3.5 million by implementing innovative cost saving measures.
4 steps to a more creative you
So how can we develop the habit of creativity and reap the benefits of a creative mind? Epstein’s research points to four key skills:
1. Don’t let your new ideas slip away. Make a note of all your great ideas as they come to you. Keep your ‘new ideas’ log in a way that works best for you, send yourself texts, use a notebook app on your phone or tablet, record your ideas or carry a notebook.
2. Take on challenging tasks. Seek out tasks that don’t present an obvious solution. Part of the creative process involves combining different ideas and things that we’ve learned to create new ideas. When old ideas compete to find a solution, new ideas are born.
3. Broaden your knowledge. Take an interest in a variety of subjects rather than focusing on one specialism. The more subjects you understand, the broader your knowledge base is for connecting subjects. Epstein believes this to be the linchpin of creative thought. Epstein’s research suggests that this approach improves performance in all areas of life.
4. Surround yourself with interesting people and objects. Spend time with friends and colleagues who have interesting passions. Friends with different interests to your own are a great source of new information. Surrounding yourself with objects of interest can also help to develop new ideas. Explore new activities and places. Visit a city, attend a play or watch a film to promote new ideas.
Hear Robert Epstein talking about his work on creativity and explain how pigeons and bananas ignited new ideas for his creativity research.
Ellen Langer, Harvard’s longest serving professor of psychology and also the first ever female professor to obtain tenure in the university’s psychology department, has spent decades researching mindfulness and the mind body connection. Langer has given us a wealth of fascinating research into the impact that the mind has upon the body.
The power of the mind-body connection
Langer began her mind-body research in the 1970’s with a, now classic, experiment in which she gave two groups of elderly nursing home residents a house plant to care for. One group was told that they were responsible for nurturing and caring for the plant, they were also told that they would be able to make some decisions in relation to their daily schedule. The other group of residents were told that the nursing staff would take care of their plants and were given no choice regarding their schedule. Langer’s team monitored both groups. After eighteen months twice as many of the people in the plant nurturing and decision making group were alive compared to the other group.
Can self-perception reverse the effects of ageing?
Next, Langer proposed the idea of testing a psychological ‘prime’ that would prompt the body into healing mode when illness occurred. Langer embarked on a new experiment. Eight men, all in their seventies, were taken to a converted monastery in New Hampshire. The men were in good health but showing the signs of ageing, some with poor mobility, walking slowly and aided by sticks. For the next five days the men would live as if they were in 1959, they would listen to music and watch TV from the fifties, wear clothes from the fifties and read magazines and books from the fifties. They spoke about the 1950s in the present tense, had no reminders of their current age, no mirrors (only photos of them 22 years earlier were displayed). The group was told that if they fully participated in living as if they were in the 1950s, it was strongly believed that they would feel younger.
Before the experiment began the men’s vision, hearing, flexibility, strength of grip and cognitive abilities were measured. The team hoped to see a difference in each man’s test results at the end of the five day experiment. The men were encouraged not to merely reminisce about the life they lived 22 years earlier but to really try and live as if they were there.
A control group, eight men of similar age, were asked to live in the house (before the experiment began) for five days and reminisce but not instructed to live as if they were actually back in the 1950s.
At the end of the five days, the men were tested again. The results were amazing. The men significantly beat the scores of their counterparts in the control group. Their flexibility, dexterity and even their sight had improved. This groundbreaking experiment became known as the counterclockwise research.
Changing perceptions to lose weight
Langer also tested her idea in different environments. Interviewing hotel chamber maids, Langer asked, “how much exercise do you do?” and was told, “we don’t do any exercise.” Next, Langer’s team divided the 84 chamber maids into two groups. One group was told that their daily cleaning routine was the same as exercise, changing a bed for example, was the same as using a machine at the gym. Langer changed the women’s perception of their daily activity. The other group were the control group, they were not told that their cleaning activities were the same as exercise. Three months later, the research team found that the group who had their perception of activity changed experienced a reduction in waste to hip ratio, weight loss, lower blood pressure and a reduction in body mass index.
The mind-body connection and illness
Langer is now pushing the boundaries of her research by testing the impact of the mind-body connection on illness. In recent research, which still needs to be replicated, Langer’s team had people with type two diabetes complete a test on the computer. A clock in the lower right hand corner of the computer displayed time twice as fast as real time, half as fast as real time or at real time. Langer wanted to know if blood sugar levels would spike and dip following real or perceived time. Results so far appear to show that the blood sugar levels follow perceived time.
Looking ahead, Langer intends to do a study with women who have stage four breast cancer. Twenty four women will be placed in a retreat setting and taken back eight to ten years in time, whilst practising mindfulness. Langer’s team will then track tumour size and blood markers to see if they can be reduced or eliminated. Watch this space!
4 ways to harness the mind-body connection
1. Actively notice new things. In all of Langer’s research on the mind-body connection, subjects actively noticed something new or developed a new way of looking at the familiar.
2. Act on new observations. The subjects in Langer’s research acted on the new things they observed, think about the men in counterclockwise really living as if they were back in the 1950s.
3. Let go of pre-conceived mindsets. Be open to new ideas and different perspectives in the same way that the chamber maids were able to change their perception of activities they routinely completed.
4. Focus on caring for something, especially something that will experience positive change as a result of your input, remember the positive effect of caring for something even as small as a plant.
Want to find out more? Take a look at this video of Ellen Langer, talking about Counterclockwise: