A good discussion on Clarence Bass’s website, “Think Yourself Young“, and an article in the Guardian “Can you think yourself young?” called my attention to this topic. There has been quite a bit of scientific research indicating that the answer is “yes”, and conversely, with a poor attitude, you can make yourself age faster. It is not a small effect. For example, From the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement, those who answer no to the question “Are people less useful as they grow older” will live on average almost 8 years more than those who answer yes.
This fits with my experience. People I know who are cynical about aging do not age as well. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. They have accepted the ongoing decline rather than treating it as something that can be fought off. Certainly, I continue to get slower with age. But I continue to find appropriate challenges to inspire me. I look forward to new adventures rather than continuously retelling the stories of adventures from the past. Friends that agree with this attitude are all aging better and enjoying the process more.
There will be a lot more on this in the upcoming book The Expectation Effect: How your Mindset Can Transform Your Life, by David Robson, which I look forward to reading.
Of course, as Clarence points out in his “my take” section of his article, in addition to good mindset, staying active helps too. But I also find that mindset helps with keeping physical fun.
Wurm, S, et al, “How do views on aging affect health outcomes in adulthood and late life? Explanations for an established connection”, Dev Rev., 2017, online here.