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Image by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash.

Ellen Langer’s new book, The Mindful Body, says when we’re happier our immune system gets caught it is important to tell ourselves that we’re happy and to BE happy.

If you don’t want to buy the book, she’s got lots of videos on YouTube. She was interviewed a lot for the book. Just search on her name.

She talks about lots of studies she’s conducted at Harvard. Three of. them are:

Chambermaid study: When chambermaids were told their work was exercise, they started to lose weight and their biomarkers changed! A control group was not told that their work was like exercise. Their biomarkers didn’t change.

Diabetes study and sleep study: When experimenters changed the clock, people responded to their perceptions. When the clock said they’d slept a full eight hours, they stopped feeling tired. When diabetics were told their insulin needed to be refilled, they went by perceptions, not reality.

Jumping jack study: People were told to do 100 or 300 jumping jacks. They started getting tired about halfway through, which meant the people who did more jacks got tired later.

Langer tells us the power of words is stronger than we may know. That’s why a decision to “take it easy” can have serious health consequences. In particular, I see so many articles where people say, “Now that I’m fifty I can’t do this.”  

We are always expanding our limits. We don’t know if there is a limit. We haven’t reached it.

What’s important is striving for a goal, not counting steps or hours of exercise. The NY Times just corroborated this with an article: it’s not the number of steps you take, it’s about challenging yourself to do more. If it’s easy to hike a certain number of miles, challenge yourself to go uphill!

In other words, stop pampering people. Tell it like it is. They’ll be happier…or at least, more fit.