"Mindfulness, she tells the medical school audience, is the process of actively noticing new things, relinquishing preconceived mindsets, and then acting on the new observations. Much of the time, she says, our behavior is mindless. She recounts one of her favorite anecdotes: “I once went to make a purchase and I gave [the cashier] my credit card and she saw it wasn’t signed.” The cashier asked Langer to sign it, which she did, and the cashier then ran it through the machine. When the receipt was generated, she asked Langer to sign that as well. With the newly signed card in one hand, and the receipt in the other, “[the cashier] then compared the two signatures,” Langer says, with deadpan delivery. She nods, as if counting beats, waiting for the audience to catch up. A moment later, the room rumbles with laughter. Mindlessness blinds us to new possibilities, says Langer, and that is what drove her to study its flip side. Often, researchers in psychology describe what is, she explains.
"Being a happiness guru, as The Careerist calls me, is hard work. My years as a labor lawyer battling Teamsters was easy in comparison. So was fighting my way up the corporate ladder at Coca-Cola Enterprises. But since I started working with Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, the world famous expert on the science of well-being, things have gotten really tough. All people want from me now is the secret to happiness.
My lawyer friends sometimes ridicule me about my new vocation ("Hey, are we playing golf today or searching for truth and meaning?"). But they also want to learn about well-being. So do a growing number of law schools, law firms, and legal departments. The demand for answers (I would say cries for help, but everybody knows there’s no crying in law) is enormous. Everyone wants to know if happiness and law can coexist.
I've been letting the "shoulds" get me down lately. It's understandable, given that I've been living in someone else's house for almost two months while we're remodeling our new house. Plus I'm caring for a baby and a toddler, and trying to keep my business going. It seems the last two priorities on my list are my relationship with my partner and myself.
I know what works for me to take me out of the place of judgment and self-pity - it's The Work of Byron Katie. From her website:
"The Work of Byron Katie is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the fear and suffering in the world. Experience the happiness of undoing those thoughts through The Work, and allow your mind to return to its true, awakened, peaceful, creative nature."
1) I will meditate every day before or after work. During meditation I will give thanks for all the blessings in my life, and I will set a clear intention for each new day. If a family member or friend is sick, I will say a healing prayer for him.
2) During my workday I will not be ceaselessly busy. I will make time to breathe deeply, become calm and allow my mind to slow down. I will invite self-reflection rather than operate mindlessly on automatic pilot. I will ask myself if I am meeting my intention for the day.