By the end of the week, all of the men looked about three years younger, had better hearing, memory and strength, and had gained weight. But the men who had lived as if they were 20 years younger had better posture, vision and joint flexibility than those who had just reminisced. A greater percentage had higher intelligence scores, too. In other words, their bodies behaved as though they were, in fact, younger.
Everything from a hair salon appointment to household chores can make your body look, feel and act years younger. Find out why, below:
This study, early in Langer’s career, was a landmark. These men had been operating under the stereotype that people become decrepit as they age. After only a week spent engaging with the world as they had in middle age, their bodies followed suit. The study demonstrated what is now a pillar of Langer’s philosophy: “Stereotypes, in general, are holding things still and lead us, often, to get just what we expect,” she says. Using mindful attention to dissolve these stereotypes can have dramatic effects.
Most of us don’t have the opportunity to spend a week in a mindfulness-focused monastery—but we don’t need to. Langer explains that there are certain situations in which we’re already accustomed to practicing mindfulness. On vacation, for example, we tend to look with fresh eyes at things we ignore at home. And if we’ve spent a lot of money on concert tickets or a restaurant meal, we’re likely to pay closer attention to the music and food than we do at home.
The trick is adopting this mentality in your everyday life. Langer suggests that, repeatedly throughout the day, we take a pause to notice five new things. “Actively noticing new things puts you in the present,” she says. “There’s always something to see, to taste, to hear.”
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