The Experiment to Make People Younger…And It Worked


Since the dawn of time people have tried to turn back the clock. From secret potions to outlandish quests, people have tried just about everything they can to slow down the aging process. Unsurprisingly, none have worked. Then in 1979 Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, had an idea she wanted to try to make people young again. This one actually had some success.

She took eight men in their 70s from nursing homes and brought them to a place that made them think they were walking right back into the year 1959. There were vintage radios, Ed Sullivan welcoming guests on black and white TV’s, as well as books and magazines from that time. The instructions to the men were simple, “Behave as if it were actually 1959.” The men did so, living and acting as though they were 22 years younger.

One week later, Ellen Langer reported that the men showed improvements in their “physical strength, dexterity, gait, posture, perception, memory, cognition, taste sensitivity, hearing, and vision” (MSN). Even if they were not younger in years, they felt better and more youthful. In fact, four independent volunteers who knew nothing about the study looked at before and after photos of the men. On average, the “before” photos were seen as being two years younger. While Langer did not literally turn back the clock, it seems the happiness and familiarity she brought to the men made them feel better and could have brought long-term benefits.

Even though this study may have had some level of success, no matter what people do, time is going to catch up to us. While it can sometimes be slowed, aging is unavoidable. Of everything that has been tried to make people younger, there is really only one guaranteed and proven cure. 2 Corinthians 4:16 reveals it to us, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

The only thing we can keep from getting old is our spiritual selves. We can keep it healthy and vibrant. We can keep it renewed and growing. We do this by focusing not on the earthly things, but on the things that are eternal (vs. 18). We keep our focus on heaven and the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-2). We work more for spiritual gain than earthly gain (Matthew 6:19-21). We keep ourselves from sin and temptation (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

The secret of eternal youth is not found in this world, it’s found in a healthy relationship with the Lord!

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