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Posts tagged ‘Yale’

How Your Prejudices Can Shorten or Lengthen Your Life

“There are only two ways to be quite unprejudiced and impartial. One is to be completely ignorant. The other is to be completely indifferent. Bias and prejudice are attitudes to be kept in hand, not attitudes to be avoided.” — Charles Curtis

The definition of prejudice in my dictionary is a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” Preconceptions are our underlying assumptions; they act as the lenses by which we see the world that henceforth color all we see. Just as we seldom notice the unique and familiar smell of our own home unless we’ve been away for quite a while, we often have no idea what our unexamined biases and prejudices are, since we take them so for granted.

“We all decry prejudice, yet are all prejudiced.” — Herbert Spencer

The word ‘prejudice’ carries a heavy implication that some of our inner biases result in harm or injury due to unfounded dislikes and hostilities. While our underlying biases can help us make daily discernments in life, most of us know that preconceptions and prejudgments can be needlessly injurious to others. What may come as a surprise is that we seldom recognize ways our own unconscious stereotypes can boomerang back and harm ourselves.

Recent research shows that one of the best things you can do to positively improve both the length of your life and the life in your years has everything to do with your prejudices and stereotypes.


Improve Your Life by Becoming What You Think

When you think of old people, what are the first five words or phrases that come to mind? It turns out that your answer to this question could make a tremendous difference in your health and longevity in later years.

Recent research shows that our subconsciously adopted “age stereotypes” regarding our expectations of what will happen as we age makes a tremendous difference in how we actually do age. An increasing body of scientific research studies show that when seniors expect that growing older means they will become incapacitated, confused, useless, weak or devalued they are less likely to take preventive steps against such deterioration and they actually will suffer from mental and physical deterioration.

Intriguingly, when seniors believe positive stereotypes about aging, such as that older adults are wise, involved with life and satisfied, such individuals actually experience higher levels of physical and mental wellbeing. A medical research team at Yale University led by Becca Levy reported recently in !e Journal of the American Medical Association that seniors with positive biases toward aging are 44% more likely to fully recover from a bout of disability—better able to bathe, dress and walk than those with negative aging stereotypes. The research team propose that positive age stereotypes are so effective because they operate through several pathways: limiting cardiovascular responses to stress, improving physical balance, enhancing self-efficacy, and increasing peoples’ engagement in healthy behaviors.

Dr. Becca Levy is a pioneer in the field of age stereotypes and aging, and has helped us better appreciate the importance of maintaining a positive mindset around our elders, because their exposure—even subliminally—to negative age stereotypes and expectations can prove debilitating. Levy conducted many laboratory experiments with older people to observe peoples’ reactions to subliminal messages prior to attempting to complete various tasks. Levy noted that seniors who’d subliminally received negative words, such as “decrepit” had worse handwriting and slower walking speeds afterward, whereas those who saw positive words such as “wisdom” did much better.

Dr. Levy studied a database of 600 people who’d been tracked over a period of 23 years, from 1975 to 1998, to see how people’s age stereotypes influence their lives. Levy noted that participants with positive age stereotypes lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with negative stereotypes. “This longevity gap persisted even after variables of age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health were considered as covariates. Participants were asked at the beginning of the research to answer either “True” or “False” to questions such as, “Things keep getting worse as I get older,” or “as you get older, you get less useful.”

Dr. Levy asks us to be more mindful of the ‘little things’ that add to quite a lot when we interact with seniors. Everything from our tone of voice, attitude, and use of loaded phrases or expressions make a huge difference. Rather than parroting whatever negative stereotypes we might have accumulated, each of us has an opportunity to “think about how to reinforce the more positive aspects of aging,” as Dr. Levy suggests.

Ask yourself again, when you think of old people, what are the first five words or phrases that come to mind? Hopefully you’re now adopting some new, positive stereotypes about the elderly! Pay attention to seniors who demonstrate these positive qualities, and imagine how you and your loved ones can get better and better with each passing year.


Quantum Jumps

Excerpted from Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity. Quantum Jumps describes the science behind instant “manifestation,” by presenting a radical new paradigm–that we exist in an interconnected holographic multiverse in which we literally jump from one parallel universe to another.

This book encourages you to have fun trying out scientifically verified, laboratory-tested techniques to improve your life with dozens of tips you can use to bring Quantum Jumps into your daily life.

Here’s the video summary of this blog post, with a glimpse inside the book at some of the lovely illustrations:

Love always,
Cynthia Sue Larson
email Cynthia at

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Sleep Learning with Lucid Dreaming

Cynthia Sue Larson

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” — Paul Valery 

If you saw the movie Inception, you might have found the idea of people utilizing lucid dreaming as a means for influencing others a bit creepy. Examples of dream inception in that movie crossed the line of ethical behavior, as suggestions were made to affect others at a subconscious level in their dreams.

While dream tampering in the style of Inception is science fiction, researchers at Yale University recently confirmed the scientific fact that lucid dreaming is a powerful way to master new skills. Lucid dreams are a special type of dream in which the dreamer is ‘awake within the dream,’ or aware of dreaming while in the middle of a dream. I’m especially intrigued by their finding that:

‘merely being a lucid dreamer seems to give you an advantage.’

Lucid dreaming has been known to be great for rehearsing new skills, and enhancing creativity… and now there’s even more good news. Just the act of lucid dreaming helps people learn. Clearly, there is much more to the matter of lucid dreams than meets the eye!

I can vouch for the benefits from lucid dreaming in learning new things. I’ve had lucid dreams in which I’ve gained proficiency in a variety of skills and activities, from developing increased proficiency in computer programming and foreign languages, to mastering new physical activities. I’ve even had some lucid dreams in which I’ve done things I’ve not yet tried in waking life… like repairing an automobile’s engine. These types of lucid dreams have sometimes occurred when I’ve been working extra hard on something by day to find with surprise I’m continuing to work on it through the night, getting some amazing insights in lucid dreams.

Here’s an example of lucid dreaming, excerpted from my novel, Karen Kimball and the Dream Weaver’s Web to give you a sense of how it feels to awaken within a dream:

Karen felt like she was both wide awake and yet also asleep at the same time. Her body was Karen Kimball and the Dream Weaver's Webnestled snugly in the branches of the mulberry tree, and even though her eyes were closed, she could see clouds in the sky and hear a warm summer breeze rustling the mulberry’s leaves. She felt the beating of her heart, and noticed that the vibrations that had passed through every cell in her body left her with a tingling sensation. Her left hand was still resting inside the tree, rubbing the rounded place where the branch met the trunk.

‘How amazing it is to feel the inside of a book and a tree, and how very peculiar,’ Karen thought to herself. She gently placed her right hand inside her book and once again felt the varying density and texture of the cover, pages, and bookmark.

Lucid dreaming gives us the opportunity to explore the universe and do things we’ve never done before. A big part of the beauty of this learning experience is that we are awake within these dreams, able to experiment, explore, discover, and the next day upon awakening remember and build upon these experiences.

Please watch and share my YouTube video summary of Sleep Learning with Lucid Dreaming, in which I discuss the recent lucid dream study results from Yale University, talk about how Karen Kimball solves a mystery through lucid dreaming, and provide a useful tip you can use to help you experience lucid dreams.

Sleep Learning with Lucid Dreaming video

One simple tip you can try to improve your chances of having lucid dreams is by recognizing the possibility that life itself might be a dream… and making a regular practice of observing this possibility. Simply making a regular practice of thinking and/or saying to yourself, “Right now… I’m dreaming,” can work wonders toward bringing lucid awareness into your dreams. A lucid appreciation for life can assist you in seeing your life symbolically, with fresh insights, a fuller sense of yourself being much more than your ego, and a greater sense of connection to everyone and everything in the world... and this is the foundational basis by which all reality shifts can best be observed.

Love always,
Cynthia Sue Larson
email Cynthia at

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