From Publishers Weekly
What keeps us from becoming the artists we dream of being and living our lives to the fullest? Langer (Mindfulness
), a professor of psychology at Harvard, shares her own journey as an untaught painter, casually scattering the names of friends and describing her own somewhat unsophisticated choices of subject matter. But her approach is also scientific: without becoming overly technical, she deftly weaves into her own story a wide variety of studies that examine the obstacles ordinary people put in the way of their own creativity. This isn't a collection of exercises or even an inspirational book as much as a gradual breaking down of what holds people back from living mindfully—fully present in the moment. Langer encourages her readers to recognize how fear of judgment, unnecessary self-comparisons and preconceived notions about talent impede artistic expression. Art, in her view, is a process rather than a product. And the very things that make the act of creating satisfying in itself—working in the moment, freeing oneself from judgment—also, she says, make for better art and a better life. Langer's work will strike some as a bit naïve—does she believe "real" artists are never self-critical? Still, Langer has much to say that's useful on art as self-revealing and life-enhancing that will inspire many readers.
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Just do it! says Nike, a command echoed by Harvard psychologist Langer, who takes up where she left off with Mindfulness
(1989) and The Power of Mindful Learning
(1997), in which she demonstrated the value of mindfulness, or engaged awareness. Here she outlines ways that are available to everyone to defeat impediments to the creative life, asserting that the doing of art makes us artists. Fear is the obstacle, she says, so set aside external evaluation and self-judgment. These are hardly new concepts, but taken in the broadest sense of Langer's stated goal--the engagement in new, creative endeavors--this energetically written title can help many invigorate their lives with artistic exploration, which is its own achievement. The embrace of uncertainty is as requisite as experiencing the creative moment for making authentic art, she argues, stating that we should value mistakes, and reject absolutes and social comparisons. Langer's latest encourages readers to bravely seek self-reinvention by creative action, and in so doing, find it. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved