Guest column/Building on our expectations
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like and do what you’d rather not.” Mark Twain made that observation years ago when jokingly offering his philosophy on what it takes to stay healthy. Obviously, his expectations for lasting health were not too high.
Today, we are treated to a similar message through various sources that a disease-free life is practically impossible to maintain without the intervention of diets, drugs, exercise routines, therapies and more. With the constant barrage in media to “do this to stay healthy,” we are accepting a subtle, but relentless sub-message that illness is inevitable.
What are your health prospects? It is an important question. If living by a “Murphy’s Law” mentality you are essentially portending anything that can go wrong will happen to you at some point in time adding to a life full of doubt and anxiety.
On the other hand, giving your consent to living a life grounded by spiritual, guiding principles that supersede health uncertainties empowers you to be the expression of wellness. There is Biblical authority behind having this kind of outlook. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
There cannot be any doubt as to the influence our expectations have in daily living. For example: Are you a coffee drinker? A report released by the University of East London suggests that a significant part of the kick we get from caffeinated coffee comes not from the caffeine, but from the expectation of the buzz. The research states, “Both caffeine and expectation of having consumed caffeine improved attention and psychomotor speed.” The report points to the mental influence of expectation on the body.
Another example of the influence of our expectations is the placebo. Scientists have long pondered why placebos do what they do, when to the researchers’ sensibilities the placebo should have no power to prompt the observed healthful influence. Placebos are just inert substance. They appear to break the rules.
Mary Baker Eddy studied the phenomena of placebos during her lifetime. She documented the healthful effects of “unmedicated pellets” while she researched the origins of health and wellness. She concluded that what she was observing was the powerful impact of one’s thought on bodily health. There is a direct relationship between thought and experience. She went on to discover “the healing influence of Spirit (God)” on the human mind and body which others continue to replicate today.
The rubric for health and healing over the last century has focused squarely on physical causation. Lately a lot more attention has been directed toward mental causality and spiritual influences. Dr. Harold Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University, has studied the links between health and spirituality for more than 30 years. He has cataloged thousands of quantitative studies that confirm the positive connection.
Countermanding the unhealthy possibilities we are treated to day in and day out goes a long way in promoting our welfare. Healthy expectations can have a positive influence in life and promote healthy outcomes in each of us. Expectations are powerful. As it is explained in Proverbs, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
(Salt, a Christian Science practioner, is a writer and blogger about health, spirituality and thought.)