Can “Thinking Young” Keep You Young?

The New York Times Magazine ran a long and detailed article last Fall focusing on the work of Harvard Professor of Psychology, Ellen Langer.  Dr. Langer believes that people can heal, or rejuvenate, themselves through the use of a psychological “prime” that triggers the body take curative measures all by itself.

In one of the examples cited in the piece, “What if Age is Nothing but a Mind-Set?”, men in their seventies spent five days living in a time warp — everything in their space was from twenty-five years earlier. The music, the TV shows, the magazines, the clothes they wore, and even the pictures of the men scattered about were all a quarter-century more recent.  They were encouraged to fully inhabit that time, and talk about what were then “current events.”

At the end of their stay, the men tested better for manual dexterity and flexibility; independent judges said they looked younger; and most amazingly, their eyesight had improved.  Langer says the experience put their minds in an earlier time, and their bodies went along for the ride.

The article is long, but well-worth the read.   It has implications beyond just aging; Langer believes changing one’s mind-set is helpful in staying healthy, and dealing with disease.

Do you think her approach makes sense?  Have you ever attempted to implement anything like what she propounds?  (I’ve been accused of dressing like it’s twenty-five years ago, but that’s a fashion faux pas, not an attempt to think young).  Please discuss in the comments…