“Are You Living Mindlessly? ” Summary In “Are you living mindlessly,” the author, Michael Ryan, argues that mindlessness can lead to failure, frustration, and even tragedy; however, he says, we have all been guilty of it at some point in our lives. Mindlessness, or automatic as Psychologist peg it, is the act of putting your brain on autopilot and giving routine responses, even if it isn’t the appropriate situation to do so. Moreover, according to Ellen Longer, a psychology professor at Harvard and author of Mindfulness and The Power of
Mindful learning, whom Michael Ryan interviewed for this article, believes people prefer to operate mindlessly, pursuing routines rather than open-minded thinking. In addition, she believes the problem stems from people’s earliest school days; Longer argues that kids are taught to do everything things in two ways, either right or wrong, regardless of the circumstances; consequently, kids fail to think mindfully and pursue different possibilities that may aid their situation.
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Similarly, Longer also argues that the problem comes in the way people learn, the lack of imagination and creativity, causes many people to go through life with a single-minded lens. As an experiment given by psychologists to a group of subjects resulted in straightforward answers like ” a screw driver turns screws” and a ” sheet covers a bed”. By the same token, mindlessness destroys peoples lives; a 1974 study conducted by Longer of patients and workers in nursing homes resulted in higher mortality rates when nursing homes made life easier for their patients Longer found.
Above all, Longer believes that mindlessness is the root of prejudice. She says that mindlessness causes the assumption that their are impoverishing categories, you’re either black, or white, Jew or non Jew,as a result this leads people to believe they are ” purebreds” and neglect the fact that there is diversity in their backgrounds. On the other hand, Longer believes problems emanated from mindlessness could all be solved by thinking mindfully; Noticing new things, she believes, keeps people alive and makes people successful.