by: Paul Lenda
Most of us know that the environment has a tremendous effect on our physical and mental well-being but did you know that our thoughts directly affect the way we physically feel? Remember always that we live and exist as part of a vast, elaborate, and intricate matrix of consciousness where everything affects everything else. There are numerous causes to any one effect. Reality is far more complex than we sometimes realize. It’s far easier on our brains to overly simplify Reality’s operating system yet by doing so we can end up blocking out an understanding of how we are living a shadow of the amazing life we could be experiencing. Let’s take a look at a program in the operating system of Reality that affects us on a daily basis in very intimate ways: our thoughts affecting our well-being.
Anger Makes You Physically Sick
According to a 2006 Harvard study, 10 million adult men in the United States are so angry that they’re sick. In fact, their disease has a name: intermittent explosive disorder, or IED. It’s been something recognized since 1980 but has existed for millenia before humans discovered the facts of the matter. Besides a person filled with anger and rage being an immediate threat to any property or people that may happen to be within swinging distance, there is some serious damage that is happening internally as well. People who experience frequent outbursts of anger have been found to be more likely to die of heart disease or stroke.
In fact, more than 30,000 heart attacks each year are triggered by momentary anger, according to a 2004 Harvard study. “People who have a lot of anger invest a lot of energy in trying to control it, and that kind of friction is likely to increase the probability of a heart attack,” says Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., a University of South Florida psychologist who developed the most widely used test to measure anger. “The more intense the anger, the more likely the heart attack.” Other studies have shown that angry men are three times more likely to develop premature cardiovascular disease, six times more likely to have an early heart attack, and three times more likely to have a stroke.
Your Attitude Affects How Long You Live
Research into the body-mind connection has discovered that if you expect illness you increase the odds of getting an illness and if you expect good health your chances of enjoying good health are increased. The University of Texas found people with an upbeat view of life were less likely than pessimists to show signs of frailty and disease. Another study that was published in the same journal suggests that physical performance can be influenced by mental attitude, indicating the intimate interplay between physical and mental systems.
Researchers from North Carolina State University did a study with results that showed that memory performance in older adults was lower when they were primed with negative stereotypes. In contrast, there was much less difference in performance between young and older adults primed with positive stereotypes. The researchers say their findings suggest that if older people are treated like they are competent, productive members of society, then they perform that way too. This shows that the thoughts of others about us affect the thoughts we have about ourselves if we are aware of what those thoughts are. Once again the intricate network of inter-connectivity shows itself to be very, very real.
Negative Emotions Affect Our Life Force on Subtle Levels
In the book Pranic Healing there is a more subtle look into how our thoughts and emotions affect our well-being. The following is a quote from the book on this
Energetically speaking, anger and frustration result in pranic (chi/qi/energy) depletion around the solar plexus and abdominal areas or may manifest as pranic congestion around the solar plexus and heart area. In the first case, it manifests itself as indigestion or loose bowel movements. In the long run, it may manifest itself as ulcers or as a gall bladder problem. In the second case, it may manifest itself as a heart enlargement or other heart related problems. It seems that a certain type of negative emotion may manifest as a certain type of disease in one patient but may manifest as another type of disease in another.
Anger and intense worry devitalize the whole bioplasmic body so that the body becomes susceptible to all kinds of diseases. Negative emotions cause disturbances in the bioplasmic body so that the whole physical body becomes sick. You may have experienced that after an intense anger or an intense altercation, you felt physically exhausted or became sick. This is because both the bioplasmic and visible physical bodies are drained of prana and became susceptible to infection.
Too Much Relationship Commitment May Increase Anxiety, Depression & Hostility
This one is definitely worth elaborating on. As in my article on what happens in a relationship when passion overrides love, we can find yet again what happens when we allow our egos invest an unbalanced amount of energy and focus towards one person. Because of the dynamics of human interaction and relationships when there is a state of disequilibrium the relationships can fail and when they do the emotional pain is magnified several times over.
A study by the University of Houston has found that there is too much emotional weight placed on a relationship one or both people involved will evaluate their self-worth by the out comes of their romantic interactions. This happens so commonly psychologists even gave it a name (relationship-contingent self-esteem).
People with high levels of RCSE are very committed in their relationships but can experience manic, needy, and obsessive behaviors with regards to love. Researcher Chip Knee said that “when something happens in a relationship, these individuals don’t separate themselves from it. They immediately feel personally connected to any negative circumstance in a relationship and become anxious, more depressed and hostile.” What goes wrong doesn’t even have to be a big event. It can be as simple as the other person not returning their texts, calls, snapchats, etc. The study doesn’t suggest that commitment is bad in itself but rather the wrong kind of commitment like the kind that arises from an egoistic desire to fill a void in a person’s life with another person that becomes a desolate wasteland when that person isn’t there in some capacity.
Being Happier Leads to Better Health
Monty Python famously sang “Always look on the bright side of life.” Yes there is death and destruction mercilessly given out but there is also compassion and creation introduced into our world. Just like the ancient adage says that the world is our mirror, so too does this apply to health through happiness.
Several studies have found that optimism does indeed lead to greater happiness and longevity. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine did a study on post-menopausal women and found that they were healthier and lived longer than their counterparts that chose to dwell in pessimism. With 100,000 women being a part of this study who were tracked for 8 years, the results are quite firm. Women in the “cynically hostile” group suffered poorer health, had a 16% higher risk of dying from any cause, and a 23% higher risk of dying from cancer.
If you have an optimistic state of mind you have a better ability to become accomplished in life, are better able to cope with stress, and can take on life challenges more resiliently…all of these have been confirmed by modern scientific studies but have been talked about by the wise ancients for millenia. In the book Being Happy! author Andrew Matthews looks to the scientific research that have been done that showing just how damaging a negative state of mind really is and the results are shocking. For instance, when blood samples taken from people who were feeling anger and fear were injected into guinea pigs they literally dropped dead in less then two minutes. Negative emotions are self-destructive and if there was ever a reason to consciously stop fear and anger in their tracks, that’s a big one for sure.
A Happy Positive Attitude Reduces Pain and Fatigue
Even when we are on death’s doorstep, happy a positive attitude about it will reduce the pain and suffering we feel. A study done by Dr Margot E Kurtz and her team from the Michigan State University with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy found that cancer patients with more optimistic outlooks were able to feel less pain associated with the cancers. Patients who had a strong sense of control over their environment experienced less severe fatigue.
It’s difficult to stay positive when you’re face with your own mortality in such a life-changing way but if you understand that there is a degree of pain and suffering that doesn’t have to exist on top of that which you can’t control, it all becomes much easier to cope with. At the very least, we can reduce the pain and fatigue we have in these kinds of life circumstances if we find ways to elevate our spirits out of the dark depths of confronting death.
Stress Can Literally Cause Cancer
Stress is called the mother of all dis-ease and with evidence of cancer being sprung into existence with the help of stress we can truly say stress is a menace to society. Prof Xu and a team of researchers at Yale University did a study on fruit flies and found that everyday emotional stress triggers the growth of cancerous tumors. What happens is that stress opens up pathways between cells that allow mutations to spread, leading to cancer taking over. Stress, be it physical or emotional, is never good. This seems like a given yet how often do we find ourselves unnecessarily stressing over things we either can’t control or that we blow out of proportion? Stress is something that can be controlled with things such as deep breathing, being tuned into the present moment, and of course having a regular meditation practice.
…and Bias Towards Negativity Causes Stress
Riding on the “stress causes cancer” train, researchers have found that people who notice negative information over positive information are more stressed out. This is especially true for ‘news junkies’ and ties into research that found reading the news can make you want to grab a bottle of antidepressants and swallow all the pills. Researchers from the University of Essex found that they could predict the body’s reaction to stress up to eight months after they measured a person’s bias towards positive or negative images. The results indicate that people who are biased towards negativity have a much greater risk of having an anxiety disorder as a result.
Optimists Are Less Likely To Get Heart Disease
Just by living in a positive state of mind greatly reduces your risk of heart disease according to new research. This was the first study, in fact, that made a direct connection between positive emotions and lower risk of heart disease. The study which went on for 10 years found that people that don’t dwell in positivity had a 22% greater risk of developing heart disease. That’s too large of a risk to not take to heart. Since happier people tend to sleep better and not have such erratic sleeping patterns, their bodies are less stressed and strained. Happier people are also better able to move on after something unfortunate happens to them than unhappy people who tend to dwell longer on negative experiences.
…and Fight Off Illnesses More Easily
It turns out that when we are pessimistic we actually have a weaker immune system response to illnesses such as viral infections. This can result in a prolonged cold or flu that we definitely would not enjoy. In a study where scientists tracked the well-being of students for a year and tested their immune systems, they found very strong responses to challenges to their immune systems if those students were generally optimistic. There was a clear demonstration that when they were optimistic their immune systems got stronger and when they were pessimistic their immune systems got weaker.
You Really *Are* As Old As You Feel
Obviously we won’t stay 21 forever but if we shift our perception of reality in such a way that we don’t fall into negative thinking about how we’re getting older and therefore we’re going to ache more, sleep less, weigh more, and so on, we’ll have more vitality. A study led by Markus Schafer found that if we mentally keep on imprinting our minds with the idea that we’re old (or rather, that we’re going to experience the negative effects of aging before we actually get old) it will have a direct negative effect on our physical bodies. “We found that these people who felt young for their age were more likely to have greater confidence about their cognitive abilities a decade later,” Schafer said. “Yes, chronological age was important, but the subjective age had a stronger effect.
Your Vision Can Improve If You Think It’s Improved
In a remarkable case of our thoughts shaping our reality, our eyesight can improve if we believe that we can see especially well. This finding, by psychologist Ellen Langer from Harvard University shows that perception can truly become reality, or at the very least help usher that reality into existence. Out of all the findings Langer had in her research, the most incredible one was when 20 men and women (all with normal eyesight) were shown a reverse eye chart that was arranged so the letters became larger the further down they went, not smaller. Surprisingly, they accurately reported more letters from the smallest two lines than they did when shown a traditional eye chart with the largest letters at the top. The conclusion from all of the findings was that while vision may not improve itself, out mind-set is more accurately perceiving what it is seeing.
Insecurity in Relationships Leads to Greater Risk of Heart Problems
People who feel insecure in their relationships have been found to have increased heart problems later on in life. In a study published by the American Psychological Association which examined data on 5,645 adults found that people who felt insecure in relationships or avoided getting close to others are at a higher risk of developing several chronic diseases. The cardiovascular system seems to be especially hard hit from relationship insecurity and this makes sense since a relationship is heart-based in nature.
Other Physical Effects of Negative Emotions
- A Harvard Medical School Study of 1,623 heart attack survivors found that when subjects became angry during emotional conflicts, their risk of subsequent heart attacks was more than double that of those that remained calm.
- Men who complain of high anxiety are up to six times more likely than calmer men to suffer sudden cardiac death.
- A 20-year study of over 1,700 older men conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that worry about social conditions, health and personal finances all significantly increased the risk of coronary heart disease.
- An international study of 2,829 people between the ages of 55 and 85 found that individuals who reported the highest levels of personal “mastery”— feelings of control over life events—had a nearly 60% lower risk of death compared with those who felt relatively helpless in the face of life’s challenges.
- Three 10-year studies concluded that emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than smoking; people who were unable to effectively manage their stress had a 40% higher death rate than non-stressed individuals.
- A study of heart attack survivors showed that patients’ emotional state and relationships in the period after myocardial infarction are as important as the disease severity in determining their prognosis.
- In a study of 5,716 middle-aged people, those with the highest self-regulation abilities were over 50 times more likely to be alive and without chronic disease 15 years later than those with the lowest self-regulation scores.
- A new study has found that our state of mind can either speed up or slow down how fast we heal from an illness. The study looked at diabetes patients and found that those with the worst depression were the least likely to heal quickly from foot ulcers.
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world”. This is how I start off a detailed section on how our thoughts and states of consciousness shape our reality in my book The Creation of a Consciousness Shift. These words, said by the Buddha over 2,500 years ago, have always been true (and on many levels), yet now we have verifiable proof of it using our scientific method of understanding our world.
Now that we are more aware and better understand the power of our thoughts, it’s time to take that awareness and understanding and apply it to our lives. Why choose to live anything less then the most optimal life you can? ‘Knowledge is power’, it is said. You have the knowledge now. Use your newly-found power to your advantage and elevate you well-being.
The physical arises from the subtle. Formlessness gives birth to form. Your thoughts, leading a seemingly vaporous existence, have more power over you then you may think. Initiate the Gamechanger…let your thoughts become your ally, increasing your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. You can either empower yourself or continue living life at the behest of untamed and uncontrolled thoughts. The choice is yours. What choice will you make?
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