Many of us as teens were scolded by our parents with the phrase, “Act your age!” when we were doing something a bit immature. The message was to act like a responsible adult. Yet the lessons from a study conducted by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer back in 1981 seem to indicate that acting your age may be bad advice as we get older.
In this study a group of men in their 70s and 80s took part in a five-day retreat held at a monastery. During this retreat they were told to act 22 years younger than they were at the time. The researchers set up the monastery with many items from 1959 - music, magazines, movies, TV shows, etc. The men discussed “current events” (at least those that were current in 1959).
To best evaluate the results the researchers also took a control group of men of the same age through the same retreat. Yet this time they told the men to reminisce about being 22 years younger but not to pretend they weren’t their current age.
They took various measurements of the men both before and after the retreat and the results were incredible. The bodies of the men from both groups were physiologically younger, structurally as well as functionally, although those men who pretended to be 22 years younger improved significantly more than the control group who simply reminisced.
Some of the amazing results included:
Ellen Langer said shockingly, “At the end of the study, I was playing football – touch, but still football- with these men, some of whom gave up their canes.”
This research is written about in the book, You are the Placebo, by Dr. Joe Dispenza. In writing about this report Dr. Dispenza states, “How did this happen? Clearly, the men were able to turn on the circuits in their brains that reminded them of who they had been 22 years ago, and then their body chemistry somehow magically responded. They didn’t just feel younger; they physically became younger, as evidenced by measurement after measurement. The change wasn’t just in their minds, it was in their bodies.”
The lesson? - Due to the amazing mind body connection I encourage you to ignore the tidbit of parental advice I mentioned earlier and don’t act your age.
Wishing you success in all aspects of life,
Founder and President
Smart Health Wellness and Performance