Friday, February 12, 2010

Less is more happiness

Thanks very much to RTBH reader Oliver who sent this story from UK newspaper The Telegraph today, about an Austrian millionaire who decided to part with all his property and belongings, in return for a simpler life. Karl Rabeder had humble beginnings and worked hard to acquire his fortune. But when he realized that his many properties - and six gliders! - were not only not making him happy, but had become a kind of weight around his neck, he began to sell them off. All proceeds are going to charities Rabeder supports in South America. The Telegraph quotes Rabeder: "More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now – all this luxury and consumerism – and start your real life'," he said. "I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need. I have the feeling that there are lot of people doing the same thing." That's surely true - though not many of us have six gliders... But perhaps Rabeder's story will cause some of the more privileged among us to stop and think: am I really living, or just living it up?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting positively younger by the day

It's official! Reading RTBH slows the aging process! Well, not quite. But nearly. An article carried by the BBC today (and linked from the post title above) outlines research that appears to demonstrate that thinking positively, and specifically thinking and acting as you did in the past, can overcome some signs of aging. Harvard professor Ellen Langer's groundbreaking research was actually conducted in 1979, but was only partially reported, until now. Her experiments entailed building a 1950s-style enclave and allowing elderly men (in their 70s and 80s) to recreate their past - reminiscing, reliving old political and cultural deliberations, and generally acting as they had 20 years previously. The amazing thing was that, for many of the men, this went as far as jettisoning their walking sticks, cooking their own meals, and even playing touch football - they really did feel and act 20 years younger. It's the excuse for lifelong immaturity that many of us are no doubt looking for! But more seriously, it also adds some scientific weight to the adage that "you're only as old as you feel"...