More than one view

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As observers, we judge behavior according to whether, as actors, we could or would do the same thing. If I take a basketball shot from the outer key (and make it), I am looked at as though I took a risk. What that means is that my perceived competence exceeded someone else’s estimates of her own competence. It does not mean that I took more of a risk than someone else would have, had she felt as confident as I. I took the shot because I believed I could make it. However, since the observer would not have risked the shot and does not know my perceived level of competence, she presumes that I’m a risk taker. Enjoying the compliment, I do not argue. But being aware of all these elements is in the nature of mindfulness.

Ellen J. Langer, Mindfulness (boldface added)

Langer’s little book is chock-full of such luminous insights.

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