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  You are as young as you think

How you feel about old age can make a difference. In research conducted by Yale University, the hearing of residents of a senior living centre was tested. After the test was complete, they were asked to think of an old person and then write down the words that came to mind. The results included positive words such as 'compassionate', neutral terms such as 'white hair' and negative words such as 'feeble'. Three years later they tested their hearing again, and the results were astounding.

Time had taken its toll, and everyone's hearing did deteriorate. But not everyone's decreased at the same rate. Far worse off (by over 10% on the scale) were those, who three years earlier, used mostly negative terms to describe old age. So, negative feelings about old age can actually make people physically age faster. Similar studies have shown that negative stereotypes about aging contribute to memory loss and cardiovascular problems, and can even reduce life expectancy by an average 7.5 years.

These studies show that our minds and our bodies are inextricably linked in ways that defy our imagination.

Source: Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. Sway, the irresistible pull of irrational behaviour. Virgin Books 2008.

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