“What if Age Is Nothing But a Mindset?” That’s the title of an article in last week’s New York Times Magazine. The focus of the article is the research of Harvard psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer. Dr. Langer has done numerous studies to demonstrate that by changing our perception of ourselves and what we are doing we can improve our physical health
One such study involved a group of hotel chambermaids who had complained that they didn’t have enough time to exercise. Dr. Langer told only half the group that they didn’t have to worry because their work was serious exercise. One month later that half had lost weight, but the other half had not.
According to Dr. Langer, it’s all about one’s mindset. Half the chambermaids realized that what they were already doing was exercise and their bodies reacted accordingly. Taking that concept one step further, Dr. Langer has taken seniors to a places set up to evoke memories of a time when they were younger and healthier and, one week later, most emerge feeling younger and healthier.
Dr. Langer calls the latter counterclockwise studies and she’s about to embark on a really ambitious one. Her goal is to reduce the size of tumors on women with stage four breast cancers. Her plan is to house the women for a week in a place that will evoke memories from before they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she’s successful.
Meanwhile, I’m excited about the possibility of using my mind to improve my lung function, maybe even to grow new lungs. Could I actually improve my lung function merely by thinking and acting like it is improved? In addition, if I transported myself to a place evoked memories from before I went on oxygen, would my lungs start to regrow?
My mind is spinning with the possibilities! Obviously I don’t expect to be climbing mountains anytime soon. My goals are pretty simple. If I could walk a little faster, climb stairs a little easier and use less oxygen that would be a great start.