Mindful Learning

Ellen Langer summarises Mindful Learning thus:

“When we are mindful, we implicitly or explicitly

1.view a situation from several perspectives,

2.see information presented in the situation as novel,

3.attend to the context in which we are perceiving the information, and eventually

4.create new categories through which this information may be understood.”

This parallels the advice of the Dalai Lama: “The ability to look at events from a different perspective can be very helpful. Then, practicing this, once can use certain experiences, certain tragedies to develop a calmness of mind. Generally speaking, once you’re already in a difficult situation, it isn’t possible to change your attitude simply by adopting a particular thought once or twice. Rather it’s through a process of learning, training, and getting used to new viewpoints that enables you to deal with the difficulty.”

Langer comments further: “We should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace a psychology of possibility. The psychology of possibility first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become. Rather than starting from the status quo, it argues for a starting point of what we would like to be. From that beginning, we can ask how we might reach that goal or make progress toward it. faced with disease or infirmity, we may find a way to adjust to what is. In the psychology of possibility, we search for the answer to how to improve, not merely to adjust.”

Mindful Learning is a valuable practice as we age, allowing us to maintain a Growth Mindset [Dweck 2006] and explore difficult issues, such as self-stereotyping.