Monday, November 3, 2014

Lies About Aging

You know, they… they say that age kills the fire inside of a man.  That he hears death coming.  He opens the door and says, “Come in.  Give me rest.”
That is a pack of old damn lies!  I’ve got enough fight in me to devour the world.  So I fight.
                    -- Zorba the Greek

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
                    -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Dr. Ellen Langer is a social psychologist and a professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University.   Interestingly enough, she studied under Philip Zimbardo, seen in this recent post about the power of authority to get people to do evil.  Anyway, she suggests that we may have more power to control aging than we think:  What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?


James R said...

No article that mentions Langer, Zimbardo, Pinker, and Kahneman can be boring. I love her emphasis on "mindfulness."
"If people could learn to be mindful and always perceive the choices available to them."

"When we are 'actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual' categorizations, we're alive; and when we are alive we can improve."

It is a mistake to believe that you can cure cancer by using your mind. There's a terribly real world out there perceived. It is also a mistake to believe you can't cure cancer using your mind. There is a terribly perceived real world out there. It's why we love, use good bedside manner, and why mother acts/is 10 years younger when she's holding a baby.

While age is NOT nothing but a mind-set, everything, in a very real sense, is a mind-set.

Big Myk said...

Very well said. Like Scrooge's nephew, Fred, "You're quite a powerful speaker, sir. I wonder you don't go into Parliament." We can't deny death by the power of the mind (although we may delay it), but by mindfulness we can see what our real choices are while we live.

This dovetails with my man Heidegger. He speaks of giving ourselves over to the nameless crowd (das man) to let it do our thinking for us, essentially making us mindless.

As one philosophy professsor says of "das man": "We take pleasure and enjoy ourselves as they take pleasure; we read, see, and judge about literature and art as they see and judge; likewise we shrink back from the 'great mass' as they shrink back; we find 'shocking' what they find shocking. Because the 'they' presents every judgment and decision as its own [i.e., because we justify our decisions by appealing to what they do], it deprives the particular Dasein [human] of its answerability.... It remains indefinite who has really done the choosing... So, Dasein makes no [independent] choices, and gets carried along by the nobody. This process can be reversed only if Dasein specifically brings itself back to itself from its lostness in the 'they'."

In other words, it requires mindfulness.