On Becoming An Artist – Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity – by Ellen J. Langer

A Book Review By Bill Dahl

Another! by Harvard’s  Magnificent Maiden of Mindfulness!

Langer, Ellen J. On Becoming An Artist – Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity, Ballantine Books – an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, Random House, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2005 by Ellen Langer, Ph. D.

The Magnificent Maiden of Mindfulness – Ellen J. Langer

Frankly, I’ve now read all of Ellen Langer’s books – intentionally – not due to a college curriculum requirement or anything like that. I chose to. Well, almost chose to. After reading her first book, one is inhabited by a thirst for more. For me, Harvard’s Ellen J. Langer is unequivocally The Magnificent Maiden of Mindfulness.

This book is densely populated by the insights of one who has spent a lifetime exploring (social research) this topic, and applying these same principles to her own life – a rarity in and of itself. As expressed in the Introduction to this book, this is why I read Ellen Langer:

“Mindlessness, instead, typically comes about by default, not design. When we live our lives mindlessly, we don’t see, hear, taste, or experience much of what might turn lives verging on boredom into lives that are rich and exciting.” P.xvii

Langer discusses the topics of refraining from judgment, comparing ourselves to others, that the creative pursuits are available to all, experimenting, making mistakes and going public – for the joy of it.

A few particularly poignant gems for me, included the following:

“Many of the limits we impose on ourselves are illusory.” (p.165).

We think of uncertainty as a problem to be overcome, and our desire for certainty may be what leads us to accept prepackaged choices rather than deal with an unbounded set of possibilities.  (p.223).

“Painting by numbers, literally and figuratively, where there is a rigid expectation that things will be a certain way, is not likely to advance the individual or the culture.” (p.97).

This particular book shares her personal journey in becoming curious and interested to being recognized as a renowned painter. I loved it.

The capacity for creativity is resident within each and every life. It takes a book like this to move one from thinking about that to doing something about it.

An amazing book! A phenomenal story!….

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