The human body is not a machine, no matter what you have heard.
Deepak Chopra said it beautifully when he wrote “Today the body-as-machine model prevails thanks to the reductionist method of science. Machines are repaired by mechanics who tinker with its defective parts, and that’s basically what doctors do in their practice. But it’s obvious that your body isn’t a machine. Your body is alive, for one thing. It can heal itself. It’s self-organizing and self-regulating. Exercise makes it stronger, whereas a machine, if used more often, begins to wear out.”
So where it can seem as though bio-systems like our immune cells run on autopilot, they don’t. The immune system needs input and care … and the good news is, immune cells get stronger when you give them TLC.
If not, well, the immune system is not perfect. We all get sick from time to time — some of us chronically. Yet the kind of TLC that prevents and reverses illness most isn’t necessarily taking care of your physical body.
New research offers compelling evidence that the mind plays an equally (if not more) powerful role in keeping you healthy.
It’s called “The Science of Happiness,” and it blends psychology, immunology, physiology, infectious diseases, neuroscience and endocrinology.
What all those big words boil down to is this small idea: People who have a positive mental outlook are less likely to get sick and more likely to recover from illness, failure and stress.
The research is even more remarkable the deeper you look.
In 2010, Harvard-trained psychologist, Shawn Achor, challenged the long-held belief that happiness is a natural byproduct of success and health.
In his groundbreaking book, “The Happiness Advantage,” Achor argues that happiness is not an outcome. It’s something you add. By focusing on positive outlooks first, all other goals become more achievable, even greater health.
It sounds like a wild notion, but plenty of independent research supports this idea. In a famous study, a terminal patient made a miraculous recovery in part by watching Marx Brothers movies.
And in the Whitehall experiments, researchers discovered that prolonged work stress increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
One of the main “inputs” you can give your body for optimal health and wellness is to find some purpose and meaning in what you do.
Achor cites an experiment in which two groups of hotel cleaning staff received different information:
- The test group was told that vacuuming provided cardiovascular exercise.
- The control group was told simply to vacuum as usual while performing their job.
After a few weeks of cleaning, the “cardio” group not only lost weight, they also had improved markers of health, like better cholesterol levels. It was the same work in both cases, but the test subjects found their work had a purpose, and some meaning for their wellbeing. With this “happy” input, they were able to improve their health.
Achor’s advice is that for the next 21 days, you write down three positive things for which you are grateful.
By making these gratitudes work-related, you increase the chances of finding greater meaning in your job. Making them life-related can give you greater fulfillment at home.
Achor recommends doing this for a minimum of 21 days. You’ll likely see results immediately, but it takes about three weeks for new habits to become routine. Yet after this short time, you could find yourself less stressed, more successful, more fulfilled, and healthier!