Can You Think Yourself Younger?

You may have heard of the term ‘mindfulness’ and the psychological benefits of being more in-the-moment as we perform daily tasks, for example, eating without distractions. Ellen Langer, Psychology Professor at Harvard University, has been studying the topic for 35 years and researching how mental attitude can reverse the physical signs of aging. Sound too good to be true?

If you’re new to her work then take a look at this short video.

Although there is still a great deal to explore, there are some initial recommendations for things to try and apply to our lives (without having to wear a retro wardrobe!)

  1. Notice the new
    • A focus on novelty and actively looking for new things is one of the simplest ways to engage our minds in the present and increase excitement. This doesn’t mean that you have to try every new wacky hipster trend but instead, it’s about your thought process on a daily basis – look around you and notice changes in your environment, ask questions, challenge the status quo, basically act like a kid again.
      • Tip: Ask more questions.
  2. Look for growth
    • Nothing remains exactly the same. You may work in the same job for years, stick within the same social circle, spend time with the same family members, however, pay attention to how these seemingly static routines and relationships have evolved. Boredom comes from a mindset, not from events.
      • Tip: Take a photo each day of something that inspires you or represents happiness.
  3. Have more empathy
    • Everybody’s actions serve a particular purpose. If someone behaves in a way that you disagree with or find hurtful, try to consider what reasons there could be for their choice of behavior. What could be going on their world? This one is a little trickier but when people become more mindful, they become less judgemental which reduces anger and stress.
      • Tip: The next time someone irritates you, play a game for 2 mins reflecting on what their motivations could be, rather than getting angry.
  4. Aim for work/life integration
    • Most people take on a slightly different persona based on different situations – you act differently at work than at home and therefore feel less stressed at home and this is where you can ‘be yourself.’ Try to merge the two personas so you minimise stress at work and act more efficiently when approaching some tasks at home.
      • Tip: Use your lunch break or another 30-minute slot during your work day to do an activity you enjoy at home e.g. reading.

One thought on “Can You Think Yourself Younger?

  1. Interesting to read that several strategies I had come to realise myself, have some academic verification. There is a lot of pleasure to be gained from noticing and appreciating small things.

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