Now that I’m into my seventh decade, the simple question of how to feel younger is taking on a renewed urgency. So the article “This May Be the Secret to Feeling Younger and Living Longer” by Jamie Ducharme quickly caught my eye ( http://time.com/5363984/how-to-feel-younger-aging/? ). The answer may be simpler than you think.
We really have two ages — how old we are and how old we feel, which is called our “subjective age.” Research shows this can fluctuate with circumstances, and now the biggest circumstance appears to come down to one word — control.
Jennifer Bellingtier is a postdoctoral psychology researcher at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany. She recently surveyed 116 adults, ages 60 to 90, and 106 adults, ages 18 to 36, every day for nine days. Each day, participants were asked how old they felt, and how in-control they felt they were of their lives and actions. Both groups experienced day-to-day changes in their subjective ages. Changes in the younger group seemed to be tied to factors like health and stress. But in the older group, these fluctuations correlated with feelings of control; on days people felt more in control of their lives, they tended to feel younger.
What is the result of a relationship between control and subjective age? The thinking is feeling in control can drive subjective age down, which can motivate people to make healthier choices, like getting more exercise. And giving people a sense of control is not hard; it can be as simple as allowing people to plan their own menus. Even personal decisions, like what books to read, can make a difference. And these little differences can have major benefits, like better mental health…and a longer life.
So that old adage “You’re as young as you feel” might be right after all.