I have a question for you. What age do you most often feel? My guess is that it’s not anywhere near your actual age, but actually much younger. Am I right?
Recently, a couple of my friends have said, out of the blue, I know I’m 50+ or 60+, but I feel so much younger. And I have to concur. I rarely feel my “real” age, unless it’s one of those days. My back has an annoying way, on occasion, of reminding me that I’m not a kid anymore.
Regardless of those days when my body suggests otherwise, and when I choose to ignore what I see in the mirror, I generally don’t feel much differently than I did in my early 40’s. Except for the confidence and sense of peace that accompanies me on a daily basis now. Gifts of age and all.
There are lots of good reasons for thinking of your self as a younger version – to stay current and interested in the world, to remain curious and open to change, and to be willing to take a risk or a new direction — but what’s more important is how beneficial this minor delusion is for actually keeping us healthier, happier, and more robust.
Age may be in the body, but youth is in the mind.
Our brains are amazing. The more we honor the brain’s plasticity to grow and add new information, make new decisions and challenge it to think, the smarter – and younger — we become.
I read an article several weeks ago about a series of studies that were done with different groups of people in their 70’s. The results affirmed that a person’s mindset is a critical component of successful aging.
In a nutshell, the studies involved taking several people in their 70’s in various stages of health to a country house for a week. The house had been retrofitted to 1975, right down to the kitschy wall art. The participants were given era-appropriate clothing, watched programs from the same period of time, and were instructed to think and behave as their younger selves. The results were inspiring.
One participant, who had rolled up in a wheelchair, walked out with a cane. Another who couldn’t even put his socks on unassisted at the start, hosted the final evening’s dinner party, gliding around with purpose and energy. The others walked taller and indeed seemed to look younger. The research psychologist, Ellen Langer, surmised that the participants had been made to feel important again, and perhaps, that rekindling of their egos was key to the improvements in their bodies.
Langer went on to suggest that an individual’s own view of one’s self is as powerful as any external or artificial stimuli. Possibly even more powerful when it becomes a personal belief. Much like a placebo works when people believe that they have the real deal, creating a mindset in which you believe yourself younger, healthier and more vital will actually result in a youthful, healthier and more vital you.
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
The study’s experts also suggested that the results indicate that when we choose to focus on the positive in our lives and shift our perspective from victim (no control, life just happens) to one of active participation with some sense of control over a situation, our minds, brains and ultimately our bodies follow suit.
The findings certainly lend credence to the old adage “mind over matter.”
I don’t know about you, but I find this incredibly exciting and encouraging.
Even if a mindset can’t fully turn back the clock, think about what it can do to fill your life going forward with the purpose, energy and adventure of a more youthful you.
Imagine. No, really, imagine yourself as your best self – physically, mentally, emotionally – then hold that picture front and center.
I can already feel it. Sort of lighter, stronger, determined. But still me.
So go ahead, set your mind to it.
I’m in! Are you?
Till next time,