By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn
There are many studies that show the mind has a powerful effect on the body. We all know that we can control our thoughts, but how many of us actively do? Since our thoughts, like diet and exercise, determine body function, we should also practice healthy thinking.
The Power of Thought Over Disease
Many research studies show that positive thinking is an effective tool in the fight against cancer and other diseases.
Stress is a leading cause of disease. Stress can be reduced with modified thinking as stress levels are based on an individual’s interpretation of how stressful something is. Basically, if we believe an event is stressful, our bodies will respond accordingly. The reverse is also true. So, how do we control our thoughts in order to remain disease and stress free?
Recently, I benefitted from reading The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. This book is a great tool to learn how to move our thoughts, and our behaviors, into a healthy direction. This book dramatically changed my thoughts and life, and so in honor of the holidays and your health, I will summarize the four agreements.
The first agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Your word is your power to create and is how your intent manifests. The word is a force, the power you have to express, communicate, think and create the events in your life. The word is like a double edged sword. It can create a beautiful reality or cause destruction around you. Your word can be pure magic, but, to misuse the word is what the author calls black magic. Too often words are used that injure or create fear. Impeccable means “without sin”, so to use your word impeccably means to speak without sin, or with good intent. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.
The second agreement: Don’t take anything personally. This one is a bit more self-explanatory however, for most people it is easier said than done. If someone sees you on the street and says, “Hey, you are stupid.” it is not about you it is about them. If you take it personally, perhaps you believe you are stupid. How would this person know if you are stupid or not? Is he psychic? Ruiz points out that this second agreement is based on the first as if we are all impeccable with our word, we will not shout comments at others like “you are stupid” nor will we speak that way to, or believe these negative things about, ourselves.
The third agreement: Don’t make assumptions. The first thought that comes to my mind is the wife or girlfriend who pouts without saying a word hoping the husband or boyfriend will figure out what is wrong (I of course have never done this!). Most men are not psychic and he is therefore probably not going to figure it out, unless she tells him. This is the idea behind the third agreement. Don’t assume people know your wants, needs or expectations; communicate them instead to avoid hurt feelings and arguments.
The fourth agreement: Always do your best. This agreement allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. Doing your best can mean doing better one day than another, as your best will vary depending on whether you are tired or well rested, unwell or healthy, but always do your best—no more and no less.
There is a reason this powerful little book was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over seven years. I highly recommend it to adjust your thoughts, improve your health and change your life.
This book will also make a great gift. Giving a positive gift like this may also boost your health as there are studies that show acts of kindness improve the mood and health of those who perform, receive and witness them.
There are many of us who can benefit from improving our thoughts and therefore our health. Additionally, when I see television commercials with wives criticizing their husband’s laundry folding abilities and those that condone lies and humiliation, as well as programs like “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and those with characters that regularly insult each other, it only enforces my already held belief that our society can benefit in many ways from practicing The Four Agreements.
May peace, love, positivity and kindness always be with you. Happy holidays!
Ruiz, M. A. (1997). The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing; San Rafael, CA.