What does acting as if you’re decades younger do for your health? Lots of good stuff, it seems!

The mind can physically turn back time, according to a mindfulness study completed by Dr. Ellen Langer. Langer and her team wanted to find out how many negative effects related to aging could be manipulated through psychological intervention. To conduct the 1979 study, Langer needed to place a group of senior citizens in a controlled environment that closely resembled an environment from 1959. She converted a monastery using furnishings and décor from two decades earlier.

The monastery featured a vintage radio playing Perry Como. An old black-and-white TV played episodes of the Ed Sullivan Show. Eight men in their 70s were used for the study. After passing through the doors of the monastery, they were taken back to 1959. The group was told to reminisce about the past and behave as if it were 1959. A control group in a comparable environment was told to reminisce but not act as if it were two decades earlier.


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A week later, both groups experienced improvements in their physical and mental health. The groups experienced better posture, memory, cognition, hearing, dexterity and vision. However, the group that lived as if it were 1959 experienced much more dramatic changes. 63% of the group had improved intelligence test scores compared to tests taken before the experiment. Only 44% of the control group improved their scores.

Langer attributes the success of the experiment to mindfulness. She describes mindfulness as actively noticing new things. When you open your mind to possibilities, you tend to thrive.

Uncovering new possibilities could have a profound impact on the success of a team or an entire organisation. It may lead to greater problem-solving skills and motivation.

To explore these concepts further, consider booking a session with Think Learn Succeed.


About the author of this article:

Eleanor Shakiba is passionate about helping talented people flourish professionally. She coaches and trains high performers who want to excel in business. Her core expertise is in positive psychology. Eleanor is the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D practitioners. She also runs master practitioner level retreats and workshops for trainers and facilitators.