Over the last few decades, scientists have increasingly been recognizing the mind-body connection with regards to health. These initiatives seek to understand the impact of thoughts and feelings on the body’s ability to heal from chronic, degenerative conditions like cancer, heart disease and chronic pain.
For more than thirty years, award-winning social psychologist Ellen Langer has been examining the intricate, but often defeatist ways we define our physical health. She has discovered that with only subtle shifts in our thinking, in our language, and in our expectations, we can begin to change the ingrained behaviors that sap health, optimism, and vitality from our lives. Improved vision, weight loss, and increased longevity are just three of the results that Langer has demonstrated in her phenomenal book: Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.
How do you begin to change your mindset to one of health, wellbeing and longevity?
It can be as simple or complex as you make it. Let’s get started right now with these four keys you can use today to unleash the healing power of your mind.
1. From failure to lessons learned. Do you view failure as an embarrassment? Is it something you try to avoid at all costs?
What if you viewed failure as simply a step along the way to success? A failed attempt at something simply means that approach or technique didn’t work. That gives you an opportunity to reframe your process and try again. If you keep your learning hat on and keep making improvements, how can you possibly fail in the long-term?
2. Lead with values. Suppose someone valued charity, kindness, and modesty – what type of life would they lead? What if someone else valued freedom, adventure, and courage – where would the journey take them? Now, suppose a third person valued wealth, power and material possessions. It’s easy to see how each of these individuals would lead very different lives.
What are your core values? Do they support the life you want to live? Is your life in line with your values?
3. Believe this, not that. Beliefs color how you view the world and make decisions. If you believe that money is the root of all evil, that can certainly derail any efforts to amass wealth. If you believe that you’re just not good with people, your social life will suffer. If you believe you are meant to suffer, be ill and be subjected to bodily deterioration, you will spend most of your life in the doctor’s office.
Take some time to identify some of your beliefs about food, your health, and life in general. How are those beliefs helping or hurting you? What beliefs would be helpful for you to manifest and enjoy the life you desire?
4. Attitude is everything. Do you expect things to work out for you, or do you view each road with pessimism? You’ll be less likely to venture into unchartered territory if you have negative expectations. A positive attitude can fortify your diligence and ability to persevere when things aren’t going well.
What is your attitude towards your emotional and physical well-being? How is it impacting the results you’re generating with your healing processes?
5. Start with gratitude. Giving yourself a reminder of what is already working in your life can positively impact your attitude and expectations. It can also reduce anxiety and alter your perspective.
Take a few minutes in the morning and at night to mentally list the things that make you feel grateful. Think about being able to rise out of bed with energy and vitality. Not having to down shots of expresso to make it through the day. Finding time for a walk around your neighborhood. These are moments to express gratitude.
Making these internal mental shifts can catapult the outcomes you desire within your mind and body. If you are looking to lose weight, balance hormones, reduce the stressors blocking you from better health, willpower is not enough in the long-term. Changing your inner mental and emotional landscape can open your mind to what’s possible and can lead to better health at any age.