We’ve all seen people whose youthful appearance and attitude seems to defy their age as well as those who look several decades older than their actual years. Most people chalk this up to genes or lifestyle  but science tells a different story. Thanks to the research by internationally recognized  stem cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, we now have a better understanding of how our thoughts effect our bodies. Where science once thought that genes were the product of genetics, Dr. Lipton’s research now shows that cells behavior is based on their environment which is largely influenced by blood chemistry. Your blood chemistry is largely influenced by chemistry emitted from your brain which is influenced by your perceptions. More simply put your thoughts and perceptions have a direct impact on your cells.

This is profound, paradigm shifting knowledge that has far reaching implications for health and well-being.  The potential to affect the state of our physical cells with our thoughts and minds is an exciting concept but it’s not new at all. A fascinating study conducted in early 1981 known as the Counterclockwise Study revealed that measurements of physical ageing were literally reversed during the 1 week study. Yes, I said one week, read on!

 Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer conducted the now famous study and several more like it. She invited two groups of men in their 70’s and 80’s to a one week retreat. Detailed data and measurements were collected both before and after the study. Both groups went to the same location just one week apart.  One group was simply told to reminisce about the past during their one week retreat. The second group was actually immersed in the past with all of their surroundings made to reflect the era of 1959. They listened to radio shows from 1959, wore the clothes of the era, watched movies from that time period and were surrounded by memorabilia.

The goal was to give mental signals to the body to reflect the energy and biological responses of a much younger person. Not only were the men surrounded by artifacts of their younger days but they were also expected  to carry their own suitcases and function as a twenty year younger person would. The men were set up to imagine themselves back in the time of their younger selves. The result was that by “acting as if” they were in their late fifties and early sixties, the men in the experimental group actually changed their performance on benchmark tests. At the end of the study, the experimental group demonstrated marked improvement in their hearing, eyesight, memory, dexterity and appetite. Langer went on to conduct the same study in two other countries, yielding the same results. They were even deemed to “look younger” by independent observations. In effect they moved their mind into a younger state and their bodied came along for the ride.

In 2010 the BBC recreated the study with their own group called the young ones. The extremity of the subjects improvement was once again vast. One who had arrived in a wheel chair left walking with a cane. One who was unable to put on his own socks upon arrival,  hosted the final dinner party.

You may recognize Langer’s name from another notable study in which she interviewed hotel maids. She took measurements and data of all of the interviewed maids on both their initial interview and the follow up.  During the initial interview she primed the experimental group to think differently about their bodies and work  by informing them that their work was great physical exercise. Now with their expectations shifted and all other factors remaining constant, the control group had significant changes when measured for the follow up interview.  They had lost weight, improved body mass index and even improved on hip to weight ratio measurements.

Now that we have a more clear understanding of the interrelationship between our minds and our physical bodies how can this be put to use? What shifts can you make in your attitudes, daily thinking and practices to help you look and feel more youthful and healthy? What can you do to lift up your loved ones and those around you? Let me know in the comments, I will be revisiting this idea often!