#137 Positive thinking: health benefits Part 2 Nov. 21th 2016

                                       The Health Benefits of Positive Thinking : Part 2

In recent years, the so-called “power of positive thinking” has gained a great deal of attention thanks to self-help books. While these books often look at positive thinking as a holly grail, medical research has found that there are many real health benefits linked to positive thinking and optimistic attitudes.

Psychotherapy literature defines positive thinking in terms of how do we cope and explain good and bad things when they happen or may happen in the future. Here are the criterion:

1- Look at the positive side when facing negative things, events and people.

2- Find an opportunity to learn from negative things, events and people with an open mind.

3- Be more receptive and not fearless about uncertainty of the future, ongoing change and its consequences since permanent change is unavoidable and part of life. More precisely: Express positive expectations in the future and see current negative events as temporary and atypical

4- Have a positive self-image and self-esteem without being narcissist.

5- Tend to give themselves some credit when good things happen, and typically accept and learn from bad things when they happen. Of course, it does not mean being on an ego trip.

If positive thinkers are more apt to use an optimistic explanatory style, they may use also explanation such as “ It   is my fault” while dealing with challenging events or people

From the Mayo Clinic, a randomized, 15 years prospective study on 1,558 adults practicing positive thinking vs. a control group has showed a strong trend towards better physical and mental health.

  • Longer life span by around 5 years.
  • Better personal, social and professional relationships and achievements.
  • Less stress as confirmed by lower stress hormone cortisol and adrenalin blood levels.
  • Lower rates of depression and lower use anti-depression therapy.
  • Increased resistance to infections especially the common cold.
  • Better stress management and coping skills such as accepting negative events rather than resisting.
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death and hypertension.
  • Increased physical well-being.
  • Better psychological health.
  • Less use of gateway behavior such as alcohol, drugs, gaming.

Limitation of the study are the lack of complete statistical analysis in some criterion. However the trend is significant in all benefits.

Why exactly does positive thinking have such a strong impact on physical and mental health?

There are not yet scientific explanations. One hypothesis is that people who think positively tend to:

Less affected by stressors and their effects.

Have a healthier life style: Exercise, diet, sleep more and better.

Avoid unhealthy anti-stress behaviors such as tobacco, sweet food, etc.

Positive thinking does affect the anatomy and functions of the brain thru neuroplasticity (mind affecting matter)

specifically on our emotional brain also called limbic system.

Or, maybe we are dealing here with an “egg and chicken” dilemma for example: good health enhances positive thinking or positive thinking enhances good health.


Final words:

Positive thinking is not always expecting the best to happen in every hour of the day but accepting that whatever happens now to you and others ……is not that bad and could be worse. 🙂

Even if you see the glass half empty and are not a natural-born optimist, you can learn how to think more positively. As usual, the first steps is to pay attention to your self-talk and specifically when it is a negative one. We will talk about the tools in our next presentations.



#136 About consciousness. Nov. 14th 16

The following is an edited text sent by Sunil, a member of our Sat. meditation group.

At our meetings we keep coming back to consciousness. I feel its important to clear some confusions. Here is a short explanation that may help.

Consciousness is an common attribute, property and quality received by all living things rather than an independent thing in itself. If we start looking for it or try to understand it like an entity to be found through meditation or pilgrimage, we may find something very different. Consciousness of emptiness makes emptiness a reality.
Consciousness or awareness does not perform an act or control anything directly but through an object such as a human body or mind. The human body- mind acts as a receiver and processor of global consciousness the same way that TV, radio, cell phone and computer receive and process electromagnetic waves.

In fact all functions of any living beings can be attributed to its only property: their consciousness.

Eyes do not see, they funnel light through a lens onto a detector whose signals are processed into images in the optical areas of the brain then our consciousness allows us to see. Even with a perfect optical system from eye to brain, we cannot see without being conscious. Same with all other senses.

Thoughts and feelings are also just electromagnetic and biological signals produced in the brain and only consciousness make us aware of them with the ability to make an intelligent thought.

Let us take another example: Just like the red of a rose allows us to see it, fragrance of it allows us to smell it but neither is the rose. Similarly consciousness makes us aware or conscious of everything else thru our perceptions but it is not the outside trigger. Consciousness is the genuine property of all beings.

In that sense it could also be the genuine property of anything things including non-living beings. Maybe they but they express their consciousness in a different, inanimate way.

Perhaps it is the consciousness of an electron that allows it to be entangled with its twin, billions of light years away.
This doesn’t mean that consciousness isn’t the all pervasive god, brahma or rigpa scriptures speak of .It just means that looking for consciousness as an object or as just the biological product of the brain will always lead to disappointment because its just not there.

It is the attribute of everything in the universe; it makes us humans as humans, roses as flowers, earth as planet, sun as star and space as space. Consciousness has no space-time. It is a non-local entity.

You may read also the following blogs:

What is consciousness    #131 Consciousness vs. thinking

#135 Positive thinking: an introduction Part 1 (out of 4) Nov. 7th 16

Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?

In the Buddhist Scriptures: The first Noble Truth: life is suffering. In the second one the causes of suffering are desire, hate and ignorance of realities. The third talks about end of suffering and the forth about how to achieve serenity.

Your answer about the half glass relates directly to the concept of positive or negative thinking and whether you have a positive or negative outlook of you and on life. Positive thinking plays now an important role in positive psychology, a sub field of psychotherapy. Positive psychotherapy looks at what makes people happier and fulfilled and how to use this attribute as therapy.

Positive thinking is not always expecting the best to happen in every hour of the day but accepting that whatever happens now to you and others ……is not that bad and could be worse. 🙂