Health Programme 2015: How thought patterns affect ageing . (Harvard psychologist))

OPTIMUM HEALTH DIARY: This section documents my pursuit of peak health and sports performance using established methods, breakthroughs in sports science and alternative/nature options. Does the body deteriorate on default or does our lifestyles and mindset have a lot to do with it? I’ll answer that question in this weekly diary. This is a quest for both health & excellence, I want to push my body to its sporting limits to see what is possible. Why not? Let’s be open minded & approach it as an adventure as well as research. (Literally all of my sporting & fitness personal bests have happened in this period of my life so watch this space!!) I’ll be using my film-making and editing skills to also create a video diary here. ______________________________________________


MON SEPT 14: Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted an experiment which proved our minds can quite literally trigger better health and more youthful appearance. She used a group of elderly men as her study group and split them into two groups. The first group were told they would be gathered together for a week reminiscing about their lives in the 1950s. The second group were made to actually LIVE exactly as they did in the 1950s in a retreat  furnished to look similar to their homes back then. She made a point of removing from the house anything that reminded them of their present ages such as support rails. Also they were told to do everything for themselves including carry their own luggage – just as if it was 1959 again when they were twenty years younger.


Her final results revealed both groups showed signs of improved blood pressure, arthritis, dexterity and cognitive skills but the second group who LIVED as they were decades ago improved the most. Incredibly, even their sight improved. One of this group discarded his walking stick after the test, another engaged in a game of touch American football with Professor Langer who described the healing as like Lourdes. Conclusion? Their minds went on a journey to the fountain of youth but their bodies had to follow.


What caused this change in their bodies? Did the mind trigger bio-chemical changes that re-programmed their bodies? Professor Langer believes the participants may have used a psychological “prime” to trigger self-healing. In essence the body is REPROGRAMMED to take curative measures. Her experiment showed that the brain is a powerful computer and your thoughts affect what the computer does. The brain does not work 100 per cent independently. Or in other words As you think so shall you be.

So what subtle PRIMES are ageing you without you knowing? What taken for granted thought patterns and attitudes in wider society are getting you ready for a zimmer frame that your body may not need yet. A couple of examples below.

“Oh I’m too old for that.”

“This is the way things have always been.”

“At this stage of my life its time for a more mature outlook.”

The last one is a lazy excuse because you can have a youthful outlook without being immature. Few could argue that US politician Bernie Sanders blazes with youthful energy and passion when espousing his policies and pursuing his political ambitions without this compromising the gravitas befitting a senior citizen. Certain taken for granted ‘stages’ in our life may well PRIME our bodies decades before we are ready. Hollywood star Jennifer Anniston was so impressed with Langer’s ageing experiment she bought up the film rights and will be playing Professor Langer herself in any forthcoming production.


Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles written for general and academic readers on mindfulness for over 35 years”


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