How Old Do You Think You Are?


How Old Do You Think You Are?

By Dianne Park

Back in 1979, Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and first woman to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University led a fascinating experiment.

Though the participants didn’t know the real reason they were involved, she gathered a group of men in their 70s and 80s at a retreat.

Everything at this retreat was recreated to conjure the year 1959, from 20 years earlier in their lives —

from the books and magazines on the tables to the programs on the black-and-white TV’s to the crooners on the vintage radio. They were encouraged to discuss historical events like Castro marching on Havana as if it were all happening in the present. Absolutely no provisions were made that acknowledged the men’s weakened states, no mention of  wheel chairs, walking sticks, etc. And no one helped them carry bags, guided them upstairs, or treated them like they were “old.”

Soon Professor Langer saw something amazing happening. These “old” men were moving faster, moving more, and behaving more confidently. One man even stopped using his cane. Wisely, before the study began, Langer had taken a range of measurements of the mens’ physiology. After it concluded, she took those same measurements again.

And can you guess what she found? There was universal and quite remarkable improvement in their:

… Cognitive abilities and memory

… vision

… hearing

… blood pressure

… arthritis…

And their gait… dexterity… and physical speed!

Her lesson and conclusions —

How you perceive getting older, and how you perceive yourself in relation to getting older, has EVERYTHING to do with living long and living well.

And in a world where widespread myths have it that getting older equals becoming undesirable, incapable, doomed to suffering, and “over the hill”…  and where so many “powers-that-be” like the big cosmetic, food, and drug industries play upon those nonsense myths…, it certainly colors our thinking.  While it may not always be easy to constantly maintain the concept from the research from Ellen Langer, it might be very worthwhile to give it a try – to frequently remind ourselves that maybe, to some degree at least, getting older means what you believe it mean and to simply think of yourself as twenty years younger!  Those of you who know me well, probably know that I think I am 21!  And it feels great!

Together with eating a healthy diet, exercising, taking quality supplements, and having an optimistic mindset, maybe we can get some extra enjoyment out of our “golden years”, maybe making them among the best years of our lives.  Everywhere we turn these days we see entire magazines, TV Shows, internet articles, podcasts, even videos on Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is intended to be calming and reduce stress, positive factors than can further enhance quality of life at any age.

What’s your take?  I bet most of us have this positive approach and mindset to some degree and that’s what helps to keep us “young”!

Check out Ellen Langer’s work at



Dianne Park is an ALL NATURAL health nut who loves to help others get and stay healthy and to offer people natural health solutions.  She is also a spirited motorcyclist, nature lover and bird watcher, loves yoga and working out, is focused on self growth and loves to read both fiction and non-fiction. She has high energy and tries to always look at the positive.