Age Is All In Your Head

You're going to grow old.  How you do it is entirely up to you.

A couple of decades ago, a Harvard psychologist took participants through an interesting experiment that showed how easily we can turn back the clock.

Ellen Langer brought two groups of men in their 70s and 80s to a week-long retreat where they were surrounded by reminders of the 1950s.  One group was given a special cue, however: act as if it is 1950.

At the end of the week, Langer's team found something surprising.  Both groups of men found broad-spectrum improvements: strength and flexibility improved, as well as posture, hearing, vision, and performance on intelligence tests.  And the improvements were significantly larger in the group that acted as if it were actually 1950.

What the heck happened?  In the span of a week these men seemingly managed to flip the switch on old age.  

It turns out that our bodies and brains are more closely linked than we might think.  Remember: you're a hugely complex neuromusculoskeletal system.  There's an ongoing feedback loop between brain and body, and it isn't a one-way road.

We're seeing more and more research supporting this new way of looking at the body.  Whether it's Amy Cuddy's "power pose" studies, or Langer's experiment on perception of age, it seems that what we think of as fixed traits (age, personality, confidence) are pretty malleable.  

I see this over and over again with my students as well.  Pamella is a great example.  At 60 she decided she needed to do something different, and she found a pretty amazing shift in herself:

"I struggled with limited mobility in my knees after taking a fall on both of them on my sidewalk. I could walk without pain, but kneeling & squatting wasn't happening. I didn't know what to do. Being 60 yrs old, you don't just bounce back from something like this, not like when I was younger.  Pain meds, shots or surgery was not a first option for me. I knew I needed to do somethingbut it didn't know what. Then I read your article on Squatting in the JulyMovNat Newsletter. I thought, I need to contact this guy!
My whole life is different!
My awareness of how I do things & move my body has grown 110%! I thought I was aware of how I lived in my body, but I was missing so many important parts. I'm happy to report my knees have more mobility & less pain, that's a big deal to me!! Also I have more mobility & better balance overall. It's only going to keep getting better. Ha!
My insight is "Im never to old to go out & play, climb trees or rock hop!" Oh & if I keep sitting in a chair I'll become shaped like one!!
Chandler shares his vast knowledge of movement, somatics & play in such a way that
made me realize that I'm much more capable than I thought. With weekly calls, videos & practices, it's changed my whole lifestyle for the better! He's an amazing coach, I will forever be grateful to him."

Simply by changing some of her behaviors and getting out of her routines, Pamella found a huge improvement not only in her physical function, but also her outlook on what she's capable of.

Was it magic, or some trade secret?  No, of course not.  She showed up and took action.  She changed how she saw the world, and changed her world in the process.  Now she's getting started on gymnastic strength training and is happily able to keep up with her grandkids on the rings and on the balance beam.

How would you act if you were stronger?  More mobile?  Younger?  More confident?  Start acting like it.  When you view yourself differently and play the part, it opens up a world of possibility.

Need a nudge in the right direction?  Click here to set up a breakthrough call today.  In this no-charge coaching session, we'll uncover what's holding you back.  Whether or not we decide to continue, you'll leave with a life-changing new perspective on what you're capable of, and a clear plan of action to get you started.

Chandler StevensComment