Is aging a mindset?

aging a mindsetAre you as old as you feel, or as young as you believe? Many people have heard the phrase ‘you’re as young as you feel’, and recent research shows that maybe aging is a mindset.

The story was first reported by Counseling Resource, in October 2014, and is detailed below.

“A New York Times article recently mentioned a fairly dated but nonetheless revolutionary study conducted by Ellen Langer and her colleagues at Harvard University on the effects of a person’s environment and their mental set on their youthfulness, vitality, and even their physical performance. The study suggested that many of the things we consider as inevitable consequences of aging (e.g., diminished energy, physical strength and endurance, memory and other cognitive abilities, etc.) might be significantly influenced by our perceptions and mind-set. While Langer never replicated her study, the results she obtained are congruent with other recent research on the factors associated with age and vitality. Taken together, the studies suggest that while there’s always been some truth to the saying: “you’re only as old as you feel,” there may also be some truth to the notion that you’re as young as you think you are.

I first learned about Langer’s study in graduate school and always found it intriguing. The experiment was fairly unique for its time.

Men in their 70’s but in generally good health were divided into two groups: those who remained in their usual environments and engaged in their customary routines and those who entered a carefully constructed time-warp of sorts.

The latter group was placed in an environment in which they weren’t just supposed to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” but rather to actually live as though they were in fact in those days, dressing as they did then, watching movies and television programs from that era, swapping stories about sports events and figures from earlier times, surrounding themselves with memorabilia and photos of bygone years, and imagining and behaving as if they were actually living the lives of former times.

Remarkably, members of the “time-warp” group outperformed their real world counterparts when tested on measures of physical strength, dexterity, cognitive ability and even memory. The study, it appeared, demonstrated that how young we feel and act has a lot to do with our frame of mind… Read More

Is aging a mindset? What do you think?