We’ve all heard of the phrase “mind over matter,” but did you know that our minds also CREATE matter? Our minds create thoughts, and thoughts are actual things that hold physical real estate in our brain. Let me explain this in the simplest terms.
When we have a thought, it creates neural pathways and proteins. So our thoughts literally create physical matter. The neural pathways created by our thoughts influence our moods, habits, and behaviors, 95% of which are non-conscious, meaning we slip into these moods and habits and behaviors habitually, without even consciously thinking about it. The proteins created by our thoughts influence genetic expression. The scientific term for this is called epigenetics. “Epi” means “above” – referring to what is above or controlling your genes. Your genes are not deterministic, they don’t dictate an inevitable fate for you. Your genes are a blueprint – but they need to be turned on or off. In fact, your genes need to be told what to do. What tells your genes what to do? The proteins created by your thoughts and beliefs, your foods, your environment… all of these are inputs, information, direction… telling your genes to turn on or off, to express or not to express, to be active or inactive.
When we have a thought, it also creates an electromagnetic and neuroendocrine signal that causes our organs and muscles to react, brain chemicals to respond, and our glands to secrete hormones like cortisol. So our thoughts cause our bodies to change. This is basic science, the stuff of HPA-axis stimulation, better known as the fight or flight response. Positive, healthy thoughts cause positive healthy changes in our bodies. Negative, toxic thoughts cause negative, toxic changes in our bodies.
Our minds are incredibly powerful and greatly underutilized. We have much, much more power in influencing our health and life experience through optimistic thinking and positive daily speech than most of us realize.
Please hear me when I say that this does not minimize the importance of a healthy diet, exercise, avoidance of toxins, and proper sleep and rest. All of these are absolutely essential to great health. But in the multifaceted, layered macrocosm of what affects our overall wellness, our mind matters most. The gut matters, the liver and detoxification matter, foods matter, muscles matter, mitochondria matter, antioxidants matter. There’s no arguing that our biology – our body – should be well-tended to, because it’s our temple, our vehicle. But the MIND is at the wheel. The only thing that trumps mind is SPIRIT. Our spirit reigns supreme. This is not typical in traditional biomedical, scientific discourse, where personality and emotions boil down to just brain activity. But the truth is that the spirit and the mind are what give life and direction to the brain. Without the mind, the brain is just a 2-pound mass of water, fat, and neurons.
Remember the untapped potential of your mind – specifically, the beliefs you hold, and the thoughts and words you choose – on your journey towards true wellness. It’s easy to get caught up in laboratory diagnostics, dietary guidelines, supplement dosages, timing, measurements and the minutiae of medical and nutritional science. All of these things matter and we must honor the science – I certainly do every day in my clinical practice. I love science. It’s knowledge and understanding about the human body and the natural and physical world that God created. I use science-based diagnostic lab tests, supplements, and therapies every day to help my patients heal and get whole. I listen to hours of scientific lectures and read books and books on science continually, so I’m current with the latest research. But our mind and spirit matter most. Nurture your spirit, optimize your thoughts, and be impeccable with your speech.
So how do you reprogram your mind to think positive, so that new, healthy neural pathways and proteins are created? How do you optimize your “environment” to reduce the detrimental effects of a chronically activated stress response, and to help your genes to express positive health? The answer is: REPETITION. Repeat the positive thoughts and talk (and nutritious foods). Practice and practice and practice some more. Form new thought patterns and everyday speech (to replace your negative thinking and negative talk about your childhood, your work, your challenges, the difficult people in your life, your hurts, your pains, etc). It’s literally developing a new, good habit, which – now being a conscious habit – becomes your new non-conscious patterns that you can slip into and act out without concern, because they’re positive!
Positive mindset is not just one small facet of health and wellness. It’s the master control. So put your hands firmly on this wheel and steer it in the right direction, along with your nutrient-dense eating, your exercise, your prayer and meditation, your supplements, your deep breathing, your hikes in nature… make positivity a habit, a natural response, a way of life.
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world [anxious, worried, offended, stressed] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – Romans 12:2
“As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” – Proverbs 23:7