“Mindlessness and Mindfulness”
I. The article, “Mindlessness and Mindfulness,” illustrates people’s way of acting without thinking or questioning their behavior. There are two ways to approach daily activities; one being mindfully doing so and the other to perform the task mindlessly. Ellen Langer argues that we tend to mindlessly perform many of our daily activities. We do this either through repetition of a task or on a single exposure to information. Langer also identifies how we do not question rules based on the context or the authority of the situation. She gives example of how the fork always goes on the left side of the plate. When we are told this, we do not question why, we just accept that rule of dining etiquette. It is something that is told with authority so that we purposefully do not question it. With these set rules and routines, we become oblivious to the context and the perspective of a situation. Mindless thinking leads us to become governed by the rules and routines set. On the contrary, when we engage in mindful thinking, we are able to understand the rules but are more flexible to the context of the situation. Langer validates this idea by using an example of car breaks. Before anti-lock breaks, drivers were taught to slowly pump the breaks if caught on slippery surfaces. Now, the safest method is to press firmly on the breaks and hold them down. Langer states that while the context of this situation has changed, people continue to react in the same manner of slowly pumping their breaks because that is how they were taught. We also engage in mindless behavior because we think in absolutes. When we are told things in absolute language as opposed to conditional language, we do not give ourselves the option to question it. We mindlessly accept it because we are told this is how it is. While there are many obvious cons of this mindless thinking there are also positives. The negatives of this type of thinking are that we are not thinking. We...
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