According to Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Harvard University, your mind is the most powerful tool you have in your battle against aging. She was interviewed for a piece in the December ’09 Bottom Line Health, and below is a summary of many of her tips for living a longer and healthier life:
• “Change your vocabulary.” Don’t label yourself as “old” or a “pain sufferer.” Convincing yourself that you fall into those categories can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Langer says to “focus on the healthy parts of your life”—like when you’re feeling good and can exercise.
• “Remember what’s important.” Stereotypes abound in our society, such as the idea that older people forget a lot. In reality, everyone forgets—but it’s usually the things that don’t mean a lot. Langer says to “get involved so that you care about things”—as you’re more likely to remember relevant things.
• “Live mindfully.” Make a point of noticing new things. This one is kind of a corrolary to the one above—stay engaged in life and cultivate responsibility and take some control. Those who pursue new interests and stay engaged with decision making tend to live longer.
• “Expect good health.” Get active, don’t be sedentary, and realize that doing some form of exercise is improving your health and self-esteem. Langer says, “People who expect to feel good are more likely to feel good.”