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  • Writer's pictureNancy, the Empathic Organizer

An Ellen Langer gem about aging....

I heard about Professor Ellen Langer of Harvard from a WNYC offering called On Being.

Having looked up the work of Prof. Langer, I happened on this excerpt of Cara Feinberg's

interview with Ms. Langer. It was about Mindfulness in the September-October issue of

Harvard Magazine. It was clear to me that I wanted to share a paragraph that resonated

strongly although the entire article is full of insights that made my heart sing.

"... that our fixed ideas, internalized in childhood, can affect the way we age. In studies ... conducted with colleagues at Yale, Langer had already shown that memory loss—a problem often blamed on aging—could be reversed by giving elderly people more reasons to remember facts; when success was rewarded with small gifts, or when researchers made efforts to create personal relationships with their subjects, elderly memory performance improved. In another study (now taught in nearly every introductory psychology course in the country), she [Langer] ... found that simply giving nursing-home residents plants to take care of, as well as control over certain decisions—where they would meet guests, what activities to do—not only improved their subjects’ psychological and physical health, but also their longevity: a year and a half later, fewer of those residents had died."

This can be applied to how we conduct our lives and how we manage our space. Achieving a sense of control over our challenges paves the way for progress. And asking for help in moving forward is a way of making a decision too. And remember to reward yourself. It goes a long way. Words for the day.

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