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Can You Think Your Way to Better Health?

Can You Think Your Way to Better Health?
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By Steven Salt

“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.

Having 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. Just like creating pleasing sound in music, producing harmony of mind and body is a thoughtful process, to say the least. You simply can’t skimp on quality thinking and sound reasoning when it comes to well-being.

The influence of thought on health is not a new thing. Its impact has been documented for some time now. There are negative influences like stress and anger that produce unhealthy bodily conditions. And there are positive factors, like happiness and gratitude, which boost wellness.

And speaking of thought as a health influencer, an interesting development has emerged in studies measuring the effects of placebos in health care. A recent study published in the Lancet, Time, and other sources reports a sugar pill is just as effective in relieving lower back pain as acetaminophen. This opens up all kinds of questions as to why a large majority of participants in the study were satisfied with the results when the prescription they were taking was an inactive substance. What does it tell us about the influence of our expectations on health and healing?

But let’s take it even a step further. Is there something more consistent than positive thinking where health is concerned? There are those who utilize their spirituality – their understanding of the divine in accentuating health – and indicate they find consistently good health.

The human mind is a remarkable thing. It has, however, its limitations, doubts and fears when up against the hurdles of ill health and other concerns. And the onslaught of ailment-mongering and sickness-advertising can alter our perceptions of health and negatively influence thoughts.

During moments of hesitation when feeling manacled by uncertainty, relying on something more powerful and outside ourselves gives us the impulse needed to fortify our thought. When addressing these limits, Mary Baker Eddy once wrote of the human mind as, “the harp of many strings, discoursing either discord or harmony according as the hand, which sweeps over it, is human or divine.”

What is divine thinking you might ask? Most faiths have a code for adherents to live by, values that shape thought and conceptions. I, myself, am a Bible reader and I have always appreciated Paul’s advice about what divine thinking should look like: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.” We can assume it was this thoughtful sensibility that helped Paul be such a prolific healer, and that taking up his advice can aid us in our pursuit of consistent wellness.

There are no shortcuts to success. Good ole Professor Hill learned that lesson the hard way. And when it comes to our health, there can be no getting around the responsibility of embracing the thoughtfulness that fortifies well-being. Each of us is holding the baton, each directing the performance.

We have an inherent aptitude for healing. Health is normal. And it starts with our thinking

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Steven Salt is a writer and blogger about health, spirituality and thought. He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything. You can follow him on Twitter @SaltSeasoned.