Your Very Own Heaven or Hell

Everyone knows we can think ourselves into a good mood or think ourselves into a bad one. But few realize that we can actually think ourselves well if we are sick or think ourselves into feeling sick if we’re well. And this applies to every area of our lives.

The Bible says, “For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. There is also a book by the same title by James Allen. This book is the basis for the law of attraction that has gotten popular over the last few years and is a big part of how reality really works.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

But is there any science to this? Well actually there is. The last few decades has slowly but surely shown this through research in a field called psychoneuroimmunology which studies how our immune function is influenced by our psychological state. Here are a few examples of how our mental state can influence our health and well- being from

Bereavement: stories of recently bereaved individuals dying soon after their partner are common. These tales are not just apocryphal. A study that followed 95,647 recently widowed individuals found that during the first week after bereavement, mortality was twice the expected rate. There is more to this than a metaphorical “broken heart”.

The gut: it is now fairly well established that there is a strong association between sustained stressful life events and the onset of symptoms in functional gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cancer: health professionals working with cancer patients know only too well that a patient’s outlook and their quantity and quality of psychological support can hugely impact the outcome of their disease.

Wound healing: the speed at which a surgical patient heals has been linked to psychological factors. For instance, increased levels of fear or distress before surgery have been associated with worse outcomes, including longer stays in the hospital, more postoperative complications and higher rates of re-hospitalization. In one study on patients with chronic lower leg wounds, those who reported the highest levels of depression and anxiety showed significantly delayed healing.

A lot was discovered in the 80’s and 90’s about the connection between the brain and immune system. In an article by Scientific American it states, “…studies during the 1980s and early 1990s revealed that the brain is directly wired to the immune system — portions of the nervous system connect with immune-related organs such as the thymus and bone marrow, and immune cells have receptors for neurotransmitters, suggesting that there is crosstalk.”

A study done on people who were chronically lonely had a pro-inflammatory effect which would predispose them to a number of health problems in the future. In an article by Dr. Mercola, he states that, “Positive emotions also have a decided impact on your health. Steve Cole, Ph.D. a professor at Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, has done a number of studies investigating the genetic effects of various mental states.

For example, he and his team found that chronic loneliness tends to upregulate genes involved in the regulation of inflammatory response while downregulating genes involved with antiviral control — the combination of which results in decreased immune function.

In sociable people, the reverse gene activation took place, leading to improved immune function. Other research has shown that happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, and other positive psychological attributes are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.”

Then there is the placebo effect that according to a Wired UK article, is growing in its effects on drug trials in that more and more new drugs are being scrapped because the placebo is working as good as the drug. This is very worrisome to the pharmaceutical companies and poses a serious threat to their bottom line. Imagine the power of the mind when a sugar pill works just as well as a laboratory tested and developed drug! The problem is so bad that the same article goes on to say, “Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out because of their inability to beat sugar pills.”

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” John Milton

So not only do we know instinctively that we have a lot of control over our mood and how we feel, there are examples of various states of stress where the stressed person’s health suffers immensely sometimes fatally. There is also scientific evidence and evidence from wise people of old that our mind is critical to our health and happiness.

So next time you wake up on the ‘wrong side of the bed’ or just find yourself in a bad mood just remember that your mind is a powerful thing — always have a backup plan to pull yourself out of the bad mood as soon as you can by thinking of pleasant thoughts or counting your blessings. We all have many things to be thankful for and thinking negative thoughts is a waste of time and very unproductive, not to mention it’s bad for your health. We can always find something good in any bad situation we find ourselves in.

We create habits all the time and our thinking is a habit. Getting in the habit of positive thinking is not just good for our health but its life enhancing and life changing as well. Try it I think you’ll like it!