Discussion #15 – The Mind-Set of Aging

This week Shourov and Brian explore the link between mind and body as it relates to the aging process.

Studies by Prof Ellen Langer have shown that to some extent we are only as young (or old) as we feel.  And given the chance, the human body can surprise us when the mind is encouraged to forget the true age of its body, and instead subtly prompted to remember what it was like to be younger.


Prof Ellen Langer, photgraph from rdigitallife.com

Prof Langer has done experiments where people are treated a lot younger than their real age, in a share-house situation, and studied the effects. She says that part of the key is to encourage mindfulness, or actively noticing new things.

In our conversation we speculate on whether this means there are benefits to focusing outside the self. And at the same time not giving up when things are bad, not dwelling on how bad things are, which can be a natural habit our minds return to if there is nothing else to do.  Don’t give up. When you give up, things go down hill.

We also discuss the power of the placebo effect, and conversely the nocebo effect, and also links between immune system and attitude.

Listen to the pod cast here:

Download as MP3

The original New York Times article which started this conversation: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html?_r=0

Your Mindset and Aging: http://blog.timesunion.com/healthylifemagazine/your-mindset-our-changing-attitude-toward-aging/697/

“Being jocks, being beautiful, having bundles of energy. Those are not bad things. We are grateful for having been young and that there are always young people. But how awful to have a society where being young is ‘the best of life,’ the only good in life?” asks Githler. “Not everyone needs to do that. People who have been successful because of how they ‘think’ (rather than how they look or perform) are not subject to that kind of hysteria, a set of behaviors many of us find sadly amusing.”

We recognize that in some performers/actors/models who are terrified of aging and lie about their age!

The ever-young Rara Avis: http://www.adorn-london.com/jewelry-inspiration/rare-bird-of-style-rara-avis-by-iris-apfel/

Prof Ellen Langer:
web page: http://www.ellenlanger.com/
rdigitalife.com: http://rdigitalife.com/ellen-langer/
5 minute interview: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/can-your-mental-attitude-reverse-the-effects-of-aging/

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