Can we exceed the 20/20 vision? Is there a way that we slim down all the way to our dream weight? In order to achieve our health goals, we need to free our minds from constricting mindsets and limits and bring in tons of possibilities. That’s the idea of Ellen Langer when she introduced the psychology of possibilities. Being mindful has a significant effect on all aspects of one’s health from physical to mental and emotional. Ellen Langer is a psychology professor from the Harvard University, who spent many years researching about mindfulness and its benefits in one’s health.
Understanding Psychology of Possibility
Langer first demonstrated the psychology of possibilities in her 1981 study popularly known as the ‘counterclockwise experiment’. There, a group of elderly had a retreat where they recalled their lives during the 1950. As they talk about their past experiences, they were asked to say it using the present tense. The control group however, only went back to their memories for the week and talked about it using past tense. Langer and her group saw a significant improvement in vision, joint flexibility, manual dexterity, arthritis, and finger length. When it comes to mental health, the experimental group scored 63% improved their scores on the intelligent test, as compared to the control group who got 44%.
Her new study involved first-time pregnant mothers. They were divided into two. The first group went through mindfulness training while the other did not receive any therapy. They were also instructed to notice slight changes in their physical and emotional health. Langer observed that pregnant moms who had mindfulness therapy had higher life satisfaction and self esteem during their pregnancy. They were also less likely to be distressed as compared to the group who had no mindfulness training. The awareness of what’s happening in their body and what to expect has helped women become more comfortable. Being mindful didn’t just positively affect pregnancy but also the delivery and health of the babies.
Noticing even the slightest fluctuations on how a person feels can oppose mindlessness or the illusion of stability, Langer explained. ‘If we open up our minds, a world of possibility presents itself,’ she said.
The effects of mindfulness aren’t limited to pregnant women, but to everybody – young or old. According to Langer, teaching people to become mindful may be helpful in helping them cope with many health problems, including depression, learning disabilities, asthma, and so on.
Her research has suggests that by using a different word, or by making subtle changes in one’s physical environment, people can improve their health and wellbeing. As Langer puts it, small changes can make large differences. Opening our minds to endless possibilities can be the best route towards good health.