The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer

The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer

Author:Ellen J. Langer
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-09-06T16:03:00+00:00



Especially as we age, we worry about forgetting much of what we have known. What would life be like if we remembered everything we once knew? Would I notice how you looked today if I kept before me clear pictures of how you looked every other time I saw you? Would I be inclined to listen to you if you said something at all similar to something else you once told me and I remembered every word you said? Would I taste the food I'm eating if I simultaneously remembered exactly how it tasted the last time? Wouldn't it be easier (more guilt free) to eat pasta, now considered healthy, if I did not remember that I was first taught that it was fattening? Would I even consider having another baby if the pain of every minute of the last delivery were still perfectly vivid?

A certain degree of memory is a necessary protection. We avoid touching hot stoves. A recollection that winters in New England can be cold is probably sufficient to lead one to buy a warm coat. To remember every sensation we felt when the temperature fell below zero and the winds reached sixty miles per hour, however, is probably unnecessary. There are clear advantages to forgetting bad experiences.

Is it ever good to forget good things? Forgetting pleasure allows us to re-experience it. We seek out others because of a general memory that company feels good. To be able to re-create the entire experience of a party might mean we needn't go to another. On first thought, that sounds like a good thing. We wouldn't need anybody or wouldn't need to make much effort because all we'd have to do is call up the memory. To do this, though, would mean that we were relying on pleasures enjoyed by younger, less experienced versions of ourselves. At what point would we want to freeze the experience? At twenty? Forty? Sixty? Would the experience be less rich and deep the earlier we froze it? My appreciation of novels, landscapes, and conversations is quite different for me now than it was when I was a teenager. Continually re-experiencing life from a fresh vantage point is part of being truly alive.


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