In 2013, health professionals and researchers shared their experiences on the link between health and how we think. @GlowImages
In 2013, health professionals and researchers shared their experiences on the link between health and how we think.

Health is a major topic of conversation these days. What does it mean to be healthy? What makes us sick? When I read the parade of health care options available I ask myself the question – “ We live longer, but are we really any healthier?”

Here are some quotes or salient points I’ve gathered from my articles in 2013 that I feel can help us better understand a path to health in 2014. “Health is not just about [physical] healthcare – it is about seeing the person, rather than the illness,” said healthcare leader Paul Gallant as we chatted over coffee about his wishes for some new directions in the Canadian healthcare system.

A wider perspective than we usually consider in caring for our health is addressed in my article that mentioned the currently well-read TED book, the “The Upstream Doctors.” We read, “Upstreamists are the rare innovators on the front lines who see that health (like sickness) is more than a chemical equation balanced with pills and procedures. … They see, rather, that health begins in our everyday lives, in the places where we live, work, eat and play.”

However, along with the factors of where we live, what we eat or how much we exercise, is the effect of thought and consciousness, which have long been studied and discussed as vital factors in our health and well-being. 19th century Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger wrote, “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”

Naturopathic physician and First Nations healer, Adam McCloud, talked with me about these links, and finds that “How we act with intention every day is important. Do we start the day intentionally with freshness and energy, success and confidence, or do we start it by unconsciously dragging along the same old failed baggage of regret that has no purpose or use? That can hold us back.”

Nobel Peace prizewinner and missionary doctor, Albert Schweitzer, said, “Every patient carries his or her own doctor inside. Finding that “expert” within is really the key to our health.”

Schweitzer’s recognition that thought can play a key role in a healthier lifestyle was also mentioned by the Deacon at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. Alasdair Smith spoke with me regarding the role of forgiveness, saying “…we have to learn to forgive ourselves first, and that will make forgiving others easier. True forgiveness means we have to take those hard steps toward reconciliation – not just thinking about forgiving ourselves, or another, but actually doing something about it.” This can lead to a healthier life – spiritually, emotionally and physically. The research on the connection between forgiveness and health is still fairly new, but already it shows that forgiveness has a significant impact on health outcomes.

Another area where thought is a factor, is the view and attitude we take toward aging. Part of the problem is the general stereotyping and negative assumptions associated with age. “We encounter it everywhere,” said Professor Tuokko, Director for the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria. She feels we need a change of attitude. “Our society is full of ageism – look at greeting cards, for example. Is that humour masking an ignorance and dismissiveness of age within our culture?” 19th century American Christian healer and health researcher, Mary Baker Eddy, thought about these issues of age from a more spiritual perspective, and wrote, “Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.”

As part of a healthier lifestyle this new year, we could decide to take more responsibility for our thoughts. To own our thoughts is to ask, “Are they healthy? Where do they lead me?” In the new year I plan to publish further interviews with health professionals, thinkers and researchers about the new and old discoveries regarding the connection between health and thought being explored.

This article was published in the Vancouver Sun HERE