What if Age is Nothing But a Mind-Set in The Sunday Times Magazine describes the astonishing results of Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer‘s studies into the way routines and mental habits determine our behavior. We are especially taken with Langer’s unique practice of mindfulness, achievable without meditation:

our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something “play” rather than ‘work’ can mean the difference between delight and drudgery.

She is one of the early pioneers… in drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness, between mindfulness and health. Dr. Langer describes mindfulness as achievable without meditation or yoga — as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”

…Her emphasis is on noticing moment-to-moment changes around you, from the differences in the face of your spouse across the breakfast table to the variability of your asthma symptoms. When we are “actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual” categorizations, we’re alive; and when we’re alive, we can improve…

… the mindless following of routine and other automatic behaviors lead to much error, pain and a predetermined course of life.


In her now classic book, Mindfulness, Langer explains practices of mind-set shifting that stresses process over outcome, allows free rein to intuition and creativity, and opens us to new information and perspectives. It is about thinking differently than the accepted wisdom, unlike the ‘mind-less’ who develop mind-sets of categories, associations, and habits-of-thought born of repetition, throughout childhood, schooling and unquestioning adulthood.

Mindfulness cover

Langer has applied her strategies to aging and created research studies that show when experimental subjects “put their mind in an earlier time,” i.e.“make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 20 years ago“,  their bodies reacted similarly, improving in coordination, stamina and mental agility. She describes her findings, and practices born of self-experimentation, in Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.

Opening our minds to what’s possible, instead of presuming impossibility, can lead to better health–at any age.


how you see is what you get

We recommend testing what happens if:

you try thinking of work as play…

or how to build play into work…

or imagining yourself being twenty years younger (or older) than you are now…



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One thought on “What if Age, Mood, or Worldview are Nothing but a Mind-Set?

  1. The context , i.e. the ‘atmosphere’ ( one creates) determines the impact of gravity ~

    Reminds of the printed or re-/writable wall clock , just that when you remember that everything is always happening right now -you might not have to ‘turn back the clock’ at all .. which is basically what awareness refers to ,

    Thank you ,

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