Remember the little engine that could. Remember how it said “It think I can. I think I can.” until it could. Well, what if that theory, with some adjustment, worked on thinking yourself young? What if, instead of repeating “I think I can” we repeated, “I know I’m younger” over and over until we were. The stuff of children’s stories and fairytales?
Nope. It’s the stuff of modern day science.
Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of growing older that are just awesome. Knowing who I am, for one. But the physical deterioration and the fears about that deterioration are big. What if a significant causal relationship between mind and body was being established and physical deterioration could be lessened? Now that’s what I’m talking about.
A long tail study by the United College of London published their findings last year, that lead to the conclusion that “perceived age can reflect assessments of health, physical limitation and well-being”. What that means to you and I is that if we think we are younger than we actually are, our mortality rate drops, our physical capacity increases and we generally feel better.
UCL studied almost 7,000 people with a mean age of 65 over eight years. They asked each person how old they felt at the beginning and then again periodically throughout the study. This simple experiment had surprising outcomes. Those who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age actually had a much lower death rate than those who felt their age. Conversely, those who felt 3 or more years older than their chronological age had a much higher death rate– almost 25% higher than those who felt their age, and almost 40% higher than those you still felt young. That’s a huge variance!!!!
Dr Ronald D. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School concludes that just feeling younger changes how you feel about what you eat (you’re more likely to eat better) and what you do (you’re more likely to exercise or try new things).
But wait there’s more…Ellen Langer did a small sample study of men from a Nursing Home. These men spent time every day reliving their youth. During the study, a spontaneous touch football game broke out among this group of men who had been spending most of their time sitting and watching TV. By the end of the study, not only were they more mobile, healthier, happier, but the amount and number of medications that they were on had dropped. The only change was reliving their youth, in memory, magazine and music. The study was publically replicated in 2010 on a BBC show, “The Young Ones”. The results… the same.
Conclusion: Don’t just do things to make yourself younger, actually turn back the clock.
Listen to the music from those days. Reread your favorite books and magazines. Turn on Netflix and watch the movies you watched back them. Remind your spirit of what if felt to be young again. Don’t listen to those practical voices that tell you that you are getting older; that the aches and pains are normal. Poo on those aches and pains. Meditate on what it was like when you didn’t have them daily and watch what happens. Don’t forget smells. What perfume did you wear at your peak? Smell is the most visceral of all our science, why not pick up a bottle to bring you back to that time.
Sound too easy? Too good to be true? We now have the science to show us that it’s not.
I know I’m younger. I know I’m younger. I know I’m younger.