Encouraging News Shows How Training Your Brain Can Extend Your Life
Did You Know Your Brain Was This Powerful?
There’s a saying I’m sure you’ve heard.
Perception is Reality.
And it’s something I totally agree with.
In the Bible, readers are encouraged to speak life rather than death. Both over themselves, as well as those they know.
The purpose is so people are able to experience more joy and happiness even if circumstances are less than ideal.
Think about it like this.
Right now, Americans are finally picking on bullying (how ironic). People all over the nation are saying bullying has got to come to an end.
Why, what are they beginning to notice?
They’re seeing just how powerful words are. Thousands of people are picked on, berated, and told they’re less than nothing. They then believe those lies, and in their own minds condemn themselves to death.
These lies spoken over them aren’t true!
But, because they hear them repeatedly, they begin to speak them over themselves and then their lives begin to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Look, just because I’m a physician trained to diagnose and treat the body doesn’t mean I can’t share encouraging news about the power of the mind.
And what scientists have begun to discover is your health really can be shaped by how you think.
Now of course there are some limitations. I tried thinking myself 2 inches taller and it never happened.
And you can’t think a sickness away, I wish you could.
But, if you practice maintaining a positive attitude and cultivating a personality of hope, thankfulness and awe, you will live a much healthier and fuller life…no matter what you’re going through.
Scientists Have Shown Practicing This Will Enhance Your Quality of Life
It’s always nice to be around optimists, even if you’re a pessimist.
Sure, their bubbly optimism can be tiring, especially if you’re a Grumpy-Gus who doesn’t understand how someone can be like that all the time.
As it turns out, optimists really do have better lives than pessimists, (or realists for that matter).
Both that, and they have a reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.
So yes, being an optimist might help protect your heart.
Scientific American noted in a recently published article on just how powerful optimism can be.
“This conception is important because optimism is particularly associated with positive immunological functioning and health. A 2012 review conducted by Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky concluded that in healthy populations, 'Optimism and vitality are consistently associated with reduced risk of incident cardiovascular events'. In fact, across both healthy and patient populations, optimism was “the most reliably associated with a reduced risk of cardiac events.”*
That’s a pretty cool thing to hear, optimism can keep you healthier.
Truth is, more than a few studies have picked up on this correlation.
And it’s easy to see why that’s the case.
Being an optimist doesn’t mean denying reality. It doesn’t mean avoiding pain and heartache either.
What it does show is that being (heck, choosing) to be an optimist helps you find silver-linings so the trappings of normal life don’t “break” your heart.
As Scott Barry wrote, “One possibility is that optimists employ more adaptive coping skills when faced with adversity. Indeed, there is research suggesting that optimists are more likely to engage in ‘active problem-focused coping’ and cope more adaptively with stress by giving a more positive interpretation to stressful events. Optimistic strategies predict a greater likelihood of engaging in healthy behaviors (tobacco avoidance and moderate alcohol use) and are correlated with more positive health profiles.”
But that’s not where it ends.
There are actually other mental exercises you can participate in that will help dictate better health.
Reducing Toxic Inflammation Can Be Done Following This Practice
This might come as a shock to a lot of you, but the words awesome can help reduce inflammation and enhance your immune system.
Well not the words, per-se, but experiencing awe can help.
UC Berkley conducted a study and noted that experiences that produce awe can actually help you live a longer and healthier life. They noted, “[the fact that] awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions -– a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art -– have a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”
I’m not going to apologize at all by saying, “That’s awesome.”
You can literally take it as doctor’s orders to go out late at night and gaze into the universe.
The same goes with attending a concert in the woods, watching a sunset or a sunrise, or practicing a religious or spiritual discipline.
Any and all events that produce sensations of awe or smallness and gratitude are recommended for life-extension purposes.
I think the way one of the researchers puts it sums up my exact feelings rather succinctly.
Dr. Jennifer Stellar said, “Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kind of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind.”
You shouldn’t need to make an excuse for doing things that help you appreciate a world that’s much larger than you.
Which leads me to the next point that’s closely tied to how awe changes your health.
An Attitude of THANKS Does Wonders For Your Body and Mind?
Maybe you’re tired of hearing it.
But I think it’s worth repeating.
Being thankful really can help change your life.
Again, with perception being reality, it’s probably best you understand how thankfulness can change your perceptions on life.
What researchers have found is when people give thanks, it literally changes their brain function.
A study conducted by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research noted when people practiced thankfulness it actually helped them sleep better.
And we can make safe conclusions that better sleep is a predicator for better health.
Another study was able to show that when older subjects exhibited thankfulness to God it helped them to deal with stress in later life.
Again, the Bible mentions this when it says that people are to give thanks in all things. So it looks like researchers are only confirming something that both the bible and other religious texts have known for some time.
Thankfulness helps put things in perspective. It helps you realize that your present circumstances aren’t the totality of life. They are not the end-all be-all.
And, for that matter, being thankful lets you also see what’s right in your life, too.
Which is great to maintaining healthy levels of optimism.
All of this to say it’s so incredibly important to be thankful…if you want to sleep better and deal with stress better and possibly even live longer.
Here’s How to Use This Information
First thing is to understand a lot of what you just learned is within your control.
You can choose to be optimistic when you’re confronted with the harshness of reality.
That doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice, but it’s one you can make.
The same is true of being thankful.
It takes a strong person to be thankful, even when the feelings aren’t there. But, the practice of gratitude has huge dividends, far greater than you might imagine.
And all of this has to be understood in context.
Optimism, awe, and thankfulness aren’t cures.
You can’t think yourself out of certain situations or circumstances. I wish that were the case.
All the research shows is that your mind is incredibly powerful and can help protect your health when you train it to think certain ways.
I think that alone is enough reason to practice these three disciplines.
I do, and it’s given me tremendous opportunity to live a life I love.