iStock photo

Can you think your way to better health?

“Now think, men, think!”

Professor Harold Hill’s desperate plea as he stands before his ill-prepared River City Boy’s Band with a broken pool cue for a director’s baton, is the iconic and ironic highlight of “The Music Man,” the endearing stage and film musical.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgHaving convinced the gullible parents that he could produce a band and taken their money for instruments and uniforms, the lovable con artist reluctantly turns to his own confidence scam, the “Think System,” in his desperate attempt to avoid the wrath of the townspeople as they are about to hear the not-so-melodious sounds of their children’s instruments.

Thinking actually had little to do with the scheme the professor devised. He was literally as well as figuratively handcuffed by a lack of musical know-how. Producing musical concord is a science, involving knowledge of the rules of harmony and their implementation. Ignorance of the principles and procedures ensures cacophony.

Health can be viewed in much the same way.  Read more…

iStock photo

The boomerang effect of being a good neighbor

iStock photo

iStock photo

“Whatever blesses one blesses all…” Mary Baker Eddy shared this verity a century ago.  It’s true.  The merits of neighborliness, brotherhood and sisterhood are countless and favorably impact entire communities as well as nations. And interestingly enough, being a good neighbor affects you!

Helping neighbors has a boomerang effect that comes back to bless you too. It might seem counterintuitive, but being the giver puts you on the receiving end of good things.

Never before has loving “thy neighbor as thyself” been so intensely scrutinized. Studies linking neighborliness with good health have intensified.  Who would have guessed there are tangible health perks to living next door to those who live by the Golden Rule?

The latest research out of the University of Michigan points to a positive connection between good neighbors and good heart health.  The findings published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health measured something called neighborhood social cohesion. It turns out the better we get along with our neighbors, the less risk for heart attack.   Read more…

iStock photo

Nudgin curmudgeon attitudes toward better health

Yep, another ‘significant’ birthday has come and gone.  AARP has extended membership benefits to me for… well, some time now.  And while I could be considered chronologically enhanced, I don’t consider age to be the topmost descriptor of my individuality. No way!

iStock photo

iStock photo

Age is a perception thing. The sooner we drop the stubborn views of aging from our constant contemplation, the better for our health. I am thinking of deleterious assessments like mental weakness, physical feebleness, illness – and the anxieties they all perpetuate.  Must aging be repeatedly linked with these complaints?

“Perception by the five personal senses is mental,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “and dependent on the beliefs that mortals entertain.” Believing that age must come with significant drawbacks only perpetuates those shortcomings. I guess you could say, you are what you believe.   Read more…

iStock photo

A healthy do-over

Makeovers are the rage.  Reviewing the “before and after” photos of someone’s physical alterations fascinate us. TV and internet outlets have exploited our insecurities over self-image by cranking out shows and segments that highlight superficial changes the viewer might accept as bona fide change.

Fresh hair style, makeup and wardrobe can provide a reboot needed to feel better and put a smile on your face. But do these changes contribute to a better you, to a longer and healthier life in both mind and body?  That’s questionable.

HealthInkLogo (1)What is it that creates lasting change in us and provides that spark allowing for authentic transformation?   Consider love, in this case a deep and brotherly/sisterly, Godly love.  That has been the focus of a four year initiative called the Flame of Love Project.

Over 80% of Americans directly feel God’s love according to a survey conducted by the organization funded by the John Templeton Foundation.  The findings also report a similar number “feel that God’s love increases their compassion for others.”

Three of the project’s co-directors, Matthew T. Lee and Margaret M.
Poloma from the University of Akron and Stephen Post, from the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, collaborated on a book, The Heart of Religion: spiritual empowerment, benevolence, and the experience of God’s love, published by Oxford University Press.

Detailed interviews in the book “shed new light on how Americans wake up to the reality of divine love and how that transformative experience expresses itself in concrete acts of benevolence.”

We innately sense that altruism is good for the other guy, but there are benefits for the giver too; healthy paybacks.   Volunteerism is good medicine. That’s according to UnitedHealthcare, a division of UnitedHealth Group, the largest single health carrier in the United States. On their “do good. live well.” website, they have amassed health info from a variety of sources that should not be ignored.

Through the research compiled they conclude that volunteering:

  • Improves physical well-being: The social activities associated with volunteering have been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, improve the immune system and safeguard from the effects of stress.
  • Raises self-confidence and self-esteem: Volunteering has a positive influence on social psychological factors. Confidence, self-assurance, and worth are heightened when participating in the act of helping others.
  • Encourages friendships that buffer against stress and illness:New opportunities and a fresh start come from activities like volunteering where you meet new people and get to know them.  These connections can help guard against despair and hopelessness and their associated illnesses – such as chronic pain and eating disorders.
  • Volunteering may help you live longer: Life expectancy has been shown in studies to increase through volunteer involvement.  Quality of life is improved too.

Affection, forgiveness, volunteerism and other hallmarks of love have lasting impact.  It was Jesus who long ago admonished us to, “Love others as well as you love yourself.” And this counsel is found in some form in many other sacred teachings.

Brotherly love delivers a real makeover with healthy benefits.  As Mary Baker Eddy once put it, “Love never loses sight of loveliness.”

 

iStock photo

Soul searching or data mining; distinctive pathways to health

What do you see when you look in the mirror; those funny ears, plentiful wrinkles; your physical features?  Perhaps your attention is drawn to something less evident but more significant; the glint in your eyes, your expression and demeanor, unique soulful qualities.

HealthInkLogo (1)I ask because the way you see yourself has a bearing on your health.

Philosophers, religious leaders, poets, doctors and thinkers have wrestled with the nature of man for eons. More than an intellectual exercise, the thoughtful assessment of one’s identity has pushed the boundaries of care giving and medicine.  Case in point: the advances in integrative medicine, which takes into account the multiple facets of a patient, including their bio-psycho-socio-spiritual dimensions.

Just what are we…physical, spiritual, some kind of mix?  Read more…