Dr. Steve Mason
“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”

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How often have you heard someone say: Act Your Age? The only problem is, it’s not that easy to know your age.  Of course you have a chronological age and that’s easy.  You simply count the years since you were born.  But that’s not the whole story.  Different organs, tissues, systems move along at different rates so individuals can be, on average, young, old or just right for their chronological age.  Then there’s the question of how old you feel and think you are.

A psychology professor at Harvard University decided to test the extent to which the mind can effect the body. She gathered a group of men from 75 to 85 and took them out to an isolated resort where they lived in the world as it was two decades earlier.  Books, magazines and TV shows were all twenty years old.  The past had been recreated as carefully and in as much detail as possible while current events and everything in the present was kept outside the resort.  The subjects, in effect, had their minds turned back to the time in which they lived a generation earlier.

The results were more than just surprising.  Before and after testing showed that the subject’s physical senses had improved.  The men had sharper vision and hearing.  Their physical strength had also improved and they actually looked and felt younger.  Objective observers were shown photos of the subjects that were taken when the experiment started and when it ended.  They said the men did indeed appear to be more youthful in the second picture and remember that the observers didn’t know the order in which the pictures had been taken.

In another experiment, subjects were asked how old they felt and then given a strength test.  The researcher told them they had done better than 80% of the people their age.  This wasn’t true but the subjects believed it and when retested they reported feeling younger and scored higher on the strength test.

There have been many such experiments that demonstrate a connection between the power of the mind and the state of the body but does that mean that thinking good thoughts is enough to result in anything more than feeling good feelings?  Can it be shown, for example, that there are measurable physiological changes? In other words, does thinking younger really result in being younger?

Look At It This Way

Biological aging is a fact that researchers can’t refute.  Humans generally do show greater signs of wear and tear at 80 than they do at 40.  However, it can also be shown that those signs vary greatly between specific individuals. Some people really are younger or older than their age would suggest and relevant research points more and more to the power of the mind as the determining factor.  So the next time you’re told to ‘Act Your Age’ just remember ‘You’re Only As Old As You Feel’.

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