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Researchers Find That If You Think You’re Old, You’ll Age Faster

Researchers Find That If You Think You’re Old, You’ll Age Faster

“Many of you likely know someone firsthand who has seemingly defied the hands of time, looking, thinking and acting the age of someone decades younger. Your lifestyle — healthy diet, exercise, avoidance of pollutants, etc. — certainly plays a role in how well you fare as you get older, but so too does your attitude.” — Dr. Mercola, Mercola.com.

Your attitude towards something can directly affect the outcome. This is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy, where you unknowingly cause an event or outcome to come true simply by expecting or believing that it will happen. If you think you are old, chances are you will age faster. Several studies demonstrate this self-fulfilling prophecy, and they share key insights into how your attitude affects both your physical and emotional health and ultimately how quickly you age.

Study 1: Determining How Attitudes Towards Aging Effect Health

One study by researchers at the University of Exeter asked 29 people between the ages of 66 and 98 about their experiences with aging to determine what impact their attitudes and beliefs had on aging.

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Participants had varying degrees of physical health. Some lived in care homes whilst others lived alone. The majority of participants indicated that they were in good shape, even though there were others in better condition.

Two people identified themselves as old and frail, even though they were in better physical shape compared to other participants. Their negative perceptions of their age led to a marked decline in health through participants removing themselves from social activities and exercise. 

Study 2: Longevity Increased by Positive Self-perceptions of Aging

In another study, 660 people participated in a community-based survey known as the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement. Again, the findings were telling. Positive perceptions of aging during middle-age led to increased longevity of 7.5 years.

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Another study reinforced the power of positive perceptions towards age. When positive age stereotypes were strengthened, it led to improvements in physical function that rivaled those achieved by six months of exercise.

Study 3: Association Between Positive Age Stereotypes and Recovery From Disability in Older Persons

People with positive perceptions of aging were 44% more likely to recover from severe disabilities.

For this study, the sample consisted of 598 participants. They were recruited from a health plan in greater New Haven and interviewed monthly for 129 months. Home-based assessments were completed every 18 months, from March 1999 through to December 2008.

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According to the study:

“Positive age stereotypes may promote recovery from disability through several pathways: limiting cardiovascular response to stress, improving physical balance, enhancing self-efficacy, and increasing engagement in healthy behaviours.”

Study 4: Effect of positive well-being on incidence of symptomatic coronary artery disease

Finally, a study of nearly 1500 people with a risk of early onset coronary artery disease found that those with a positive outlook on life, who were relaxed and cheerful, had one-third reduction in coronary events such as heart attacks.

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Even more revealing was those with the highest risk of coronary artery disease enjoyed a 50% reduction. And this was true even if other risk factors such as smoking and diabetes were factored in.

Choose to be happy. Choose to be positive. Choose to seek out new experiences

The studies reveal the importance of how your view of your age can affect your health. It is a clear self-fulfilling prophecy that cannot be ignored.

While your lifestyle (healthy eating, exercise, etc.) has a very tangible and important influence on your health, and should be used to complement your attitude and views, the importance of views toward age cannot be overstated. There is a clear and significant connection between the perception of age and a person’s health (both positive and negative).

The message then is simple. Start to make a conscious decision to not act your age. Choose to be happy. Choose to be positive. Choose to seek out new experiences. Failing to do so and falling into the trap of believing you are old can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with your mind and body following suit. What follows then, surely, is a rapid cycle of decline in your health.

Featured photo credit: Disney via disney.wikia.com

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Nick Darlington

Nick is a Multipotentialite, an entrepreneur, a blogger and a traveler.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

More Tips on Building Confidence

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
[2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
[3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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