Health, Wellbeing, and the Psychology of Possibility
Ellen J Langer
Many things that we think are beyond our reach are actually within our grasp. Many things that we think we can’t control—such as our health, or that nagging ache in our lower back, or our general outlook on life—are actually controllable. Many of the limitations in our lives exist only in our heads.
Why Not? Health, Wellbeing, and the Psychology of Possibility considers what happens when we learn how to take control of our health and wellbeing. Psychologist Ellen Langer, who has written widely on the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress, decision-making, and health. explores the new psychology of possibility, highlighting new research that shows how the mind can help treat a long list of illnesses and ailments that were previously assumed to be entirely physical. It builds on her groundbreaking work on mindfulness, and shows how simple thinking techniques can become a potent medical tool, reducing our symptoms, increasing our resilience and extending our lives.
The tragic truth is that too many people are depressed, stressed, and living in pain. They accept their sickness as the inevitable status quo. They believe that psychological and physical discomfort are simply a part of life. Others are convinced that “this is as good as it gets,” and that they don’t deserve better. They will always be exhausted. Their eyes will always need glasses. They will keep getting weaker.
Ellen Langer’s essential work suggests that much more is possible. If we free ourselves from certain pervasive and constricting mindsets, such as the belief that stress is inescapable, or that being older means being sick, or that there can be no relief from chronic pain, then all sorts of possibilities may present themselves. If we learn to apply these new techniques, the mind can literally heal the body.