It’s all in your head

What would you say if I told you that aging is all in your head?

Our attitude and mental habits toward aging and growing older play a huge role in our health and longevity. Of course, Western medicine doesn’t talk about that part of health, but it is a fact nonetheless. Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard professor, talks in her book Mindfulness (1989) about a 2-week study she conducted of men in their 70s and 80s. One group lived as though it were the 1950s – when they were 20 years old – they watched TV shows from that era, looked at pictures of themselves in their prime on the walls, read magazines from that period, etc. The other group lived away from their daily routine, without any reminders of how life was like in their youth.

Before and after the study, the men in the two groups underwent various tests – hearing, blood pressure, eyesight, pulmonary function – and had their picture taken. After the study, the first group, who had lived as if in the time period of their prime, looked on average 10 years younger! And their hearing, vision, lung function and blood pressure had dramatically improved. On top of that, they had a greater sense of well-being. The second group, however, showed no change at all; they hadn’t changed their mental habits and attitudes.

According to the famous Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement by gerontologist and epidemiologist Becca Levy, Ph.D., people with positive perceptions about aging live, on average, seven and a half years longer than people who don’t have such perceptions.  Positive perceptions of aging had more impact on healthy longevity than did having low cholesterol, blood pressure, low body mass index or even not smoking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced! Why don’t you give it a try? Change your inner dialogue, focus on the positive aspects of life, make time for laughter and fun, and relax. I guarantee you’ll feel better and you’ll have more energy to do the things you love ☺

– Sylvie Grégoire