The experimental subjects had "put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride. - Ellen Langer
this past weekend there was a fantastic article by Bruce Grierson for the New York Times Magazine about a set of fascinating experiments conducted by psychologist Ellen Langer.
for five days, Langer took men in their 70s and placed them in a closed environment completely replicating their life 22 years earlier. they were asked to imagine themselves as younger and were treated as they would be 22 years ago.
at the end of the five days, the men had increased physical function, improved eyesight, and even looked younger.
of course, the power of positive thinking is well documented. placebos, which are treatments with no actual physical effect, can cause actual physiologic changes purely on the belief that they work.
however, these experiments suggest that our mindsets can actually move us beyond our physical limits.
in another experiment, Langer had two test groups operate a flight simulator. one group was instructed to imagine themselves as Air Force pilots and to guide the simulator. the other group was told the simulator was broken and just to pretend to fly the plane. afterwards, the group piloting the simulator performed 40 percent better on eyesight tests.
what does that mean for us in daily life? at rhee plastic surgery, we work every day to think more positively about every aspect of our lives. that is one simple thing we can do to effect powerful change.