There is hard science to prove that our minds have a great impact on our physical health. There are practical applications and there are physiological responses of which we are unaware. Both are critical to our well-being.
In 1990 a survey was taken to begin to study the effect of perception on health.  Participants were asked how active they thought they were in relation to other people. Everyone’s activity levels were scientifically monitored and recorded. The people who believed themselves to be less active had a 71% higher death rate in the followup period than their peers, regardless of the accuracy of that belief. Some were equally active or more active than their peers. Their mindset is what changed their mortality rate. The mindset of being under par, or “less than”, can produce physiological changes such as depression and increased blood pressure, insomnia and more that shorten lifespan. Practically speaking, these people were less likely to take care of themselves in other ways and therefore made decisions that may have contributed to their earlier demise. Think about it. If you think you “messed up” aren’t you more likely to just toss in the towel? That is a deadly behavior.
The Placebo Effect
An extremely interesting part of this study was when participants were given an ordinary milkshake of 380 calories and some were told that it was a decadent treat of 620 calories, the ghrelin response was astounding. It plummeted. Ghrelin is the hormone that activates hunger. When the participants were told that the milkshake was a sensible treat of 140 calories, the ghrelin response stayed almost the same. So, drinking the same milkshake, with a different mindset, produced different levels of satisfaction. This shows that perception, or mindset, had a physical effect on the participants. The placebo effect is a well accepted fact in the practice of medicine and after this study, it has become an integral part of psychology.
Perception of stress was also studied and it was discovered that the combination of stress plus a participants belief that stress was bad for their health led to an increased risk of premature death. The combination had to be present. The stress alone was not known to be deadly but when combined with the belief that it was, it became life threatening.
We so often say and hear that our happiness is a choice. It really is. It comes down to the glass half empty or half full ideology. How do you see your life? Are you thankful for the positive things? Do you lament going to work or are you thankful that you have a job? Are you thrilled with the progress you’re making in your fitness regimen or are you constantly comparing yourself to false media images? Are you happy that you are stronger than ever or are you bitter about growing old? Do you believe loved ones who admire you or do you think they’re insincere? Are you thankful that you can survive financially or are you always angrily looking at what others have and feeling deprived? The answers to these questions not only affect your happiness and health now, they will play a part in how long you live. If you are a positive thinker, BRAVO! If you are not, learn to be. Your future will thank you for it. ;-*