This message is especially dedicated to my niece, the great Lauren Perrine.
Perfunctory: adjective; Done routinely with little interest or care.
I received an email from Dr. Ellen Langer of Harvard University the other day. I contacted her because she has done extensive work on the topic of Mindfulness in Social Psychology. She is the leading authority on this topic. Dr. Langer says that most people are mindless, meaning, they go through life “routinely.” They just go through the motions. Even sports coaches tell their players to do something until they don’t have to think about it. She doesn’t agree. And after reading her book, I don’t either. You see, the problem with being mindless is that, sure, you might be able to do things over and over again, but you CAN’T adjust if something different happens. In tennis if you can hit a forehand in your sleep, but then all of a sudden, the ball comes at a different speed or farther away or with spin, you won’t be able to make the adjustment. Also, when you are mindless, you don’t enjoy the process; it becomes boring, perfunctory. You also are not open to new ideas.
Remember, up to 80% of what we do in life is habitual. Try to be more mindful in what you do and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Homework: Instead of being mindless and “playing tennis” become a “tennis player” (mindful). Instead of being “in life” be “into life.”